Capitals blow four-goal lead as Ducks snap winning streak
The rout was on in the second period. The Washington Capitals were up by four goals, cruising to their eighth straight win that felt like an absolute given until suddenly it wasn’t.
The Anaheim Ducks methodically scored goal after goal and came back from a four-goal deficit to beat the Capitals 6-5 Sunday at Capital One Arena, ending the Capitals’ seven-game winning streak and sending the high-flying team crashing back to earth.
The Capitals chased net-minder John Gibson with three goals in the first period, yet their team defense collapsed in the latter half of the game as Anaheim grinded out offense. Pontus Aberg scored the Ducks’ go-ahead goal off a few rebounds with about five minutes left.
Washington fell to 15-8-3.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist, Tom Wilson kept his point streak going and the fourth-liners had two points apiece.
Fresh off his third career hat trick, Nicklas Backstrom picked up where he left off Friday and scored 41 seconds into the game on a two-on-one breakaway with Alex Ovechkin. The center popped in his 10th goal of the year, showing why Reirden has kept the center on the top line with Ovechkin despite Kuznetsov returning from injury.
The fourth line also got in on the action early. Chandler Stephenson shot from a wide angle off the right circle, and the puck deflected off his defender and squirted through Gibson’s five-hole.
Ryan Getzlaf got on the board for Anaheim, but after the Capitals’ third goal a John Carlson laser shot re-directed by Wilson Gibson was yanked, ending what was billed as a goalie duel between him and Braden Holtby.
Washington kept control throughout the opening minutes of the second. Kuznetsov dangled past Gibson’s replacement, Ryan Miller, and Nic Dowd crashed the net and kicked another puck in. But the Ducks scored twice in the two minutes that followed to bring it to 5-3.
Dmitry Orlov was called for boarding twice midway through the third period, leading to power-play goals by Aberg and Hampus Lindholm and an improbably tied game. Aberg’s second goal was the deciding one.
Holtby surpassed 10,000 career saves in the first period, the only goalie in Washington history after Olie Kolzig to do so. Backstrom (219 goals) moved into sole possession of fourth place among Capitals goal-scorers all-time.
The Capitals play four of their next five games on the road, starting Tuesday at the Vegas Golden Knights. Washington beat Vegas 5-2 in October, in the two teams’ first rematch since the Stanley Cup.