Bad Dump-in On Power Play Costs Caps

Posted January 19, 2021

Kuznetsov has made a career out of puck-control, but a power play decision may have cost the Caps the game. (Caps Outsider)

There are very few plays in hockey that are more demoralizing than giving up a shorthanded goal, but the 5-on-3 shorthanded goal has got to be one of the biggest momentum-changing plays in the game, especially considering it only happens to a team about once a decade.

With a 4-2 lead, the Caps had a 5-on-3 power play for about a minute, just as the Penguins had earlier in the game. Odds are high that a team scores with a two-man advantage, so it seemed certain the Caps would be leading 5-2, and if they failed, it would still be 4-2.

In the second period, the Caps had possession on what should have been a routine zone entry. Evgeny Kuznetsov inexplicably dumped the puck in. Perhaps he was trying to go into the corner, but instead it went right to the Penguins goaltender. For a guy like Kuznetsov, who normally carries pucks in on zone entries, even retreating if it isn’t clean, the dump to the goalie was a bad move even if it didn’t result in a shorthanded goal. By all accounts, the Penguins would have easily been able to clear it from there.

Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith then did exactly what he was supposed to do: Launch it. That was the right play, even if Teddy Blueger wasn’t waiting for the hail-mary pass and breakaway, as he scored on Vitek Vanecek. Though the Caps still had a 4-3 lead, the Penguins had the momentum after that, scoring on another power play goal and then in overtime.

Kuznetsov admitted that it was his fault after the game and didn’t spend much time answering the question about what happened. He also scored a goal earlier in the game, so the Caps likely wouldn’t have gotten the losing standings point without him, but the loss still stung.

“We should have closed the game there when we were up 5-on-3 power play I think, but we just let em back in the game so hopefully …. The mistakes really cost us a point today so I hope we learn from that,” Lars Eller said after the game, talking especially about the shorthanded goal. Caps coach Peter Laviolette said the Caps shot themselves in the foot but still saw the opportunity to test themselves in the third period, but didn’t play up to par.