A lot has gone well for the Washington Capitals this season, with points in nine of 10 games, but there’s one area that hasn’t been as successful: 3-on-3 overtime. Washington earned a bonus point in their 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night after erasing a 4-1 deficit in the final 22 minutes of regulation to grab a point. But they lost a chance for a second one with a poor showing in the extra session.
The Panthers controlled play from the face-off and kept the Capitals hemmed in the defensive zone. They also kept forward Tom Wilson from being able to change on the far bench at FLA Live Arena. Just before the overtime reached the two-minute mark, Eetu Luostarinen’s centering feed went off Wilson’s stick and hit the back of the net for a disappointing end to the Capitals’ comeback effort.
The Capitals are now 0-4 in overtime this season without ever reaching the shootout.
“We got to overtime and never really got possession of the puck,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “It’s frustrating to not get the second point.”
In terms of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Capitals’ overtime troubles are minor, since the 3-on-3 format doesn’t exist. However, it does pose a problem in losing much-needed points in what figures to be a competitive Metropolitan Division race. What’s more frustrating is that two of the Caps’ four losses have come after they erased a three-goal deficit, only to fail to fully take advantage of the building momentum to steal both points.
Capitals’ Extra Setbacks
Washington’s woes in overtime began on Oct. 16, in the second contest of the season, a 2-1 setback to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They blew a 1-0 lead in the third period – a lead that might have been two if an Alexander Ovechkin shot had crossed the goal line before being covered late in the second period. After a back-and-forth extra session, Steven Stamkos won the game with just 15 seconds left.
A week later, against the Calgary Flames, Washington erased a 3-0 deficit in the second period but could not produce the go-ahead goal after pulling even. In overtime, Calgary’s Elias Lindholm completed a hat trick. Four days after that loss, the Capitals blew a 2-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings before Dylan Larkin sealed Washington’s fate 97 seconds off the Red Wings’ only shot on goal in overtime.
Finally, in what was the ugliest overtime performance so far this season, the Panthers controlled the entire session before a Florida centering feed ended up behind Vitek Vanecek for Washington’s fourth straight overtime loss.
Dating back to last year’s playoffs, the Capitals now have a half-dozen straight overtime defeats, including a pair of losses to the Boston Bruins in their first-round series of the 2021 Playoffs. Their last win after regulation was in Game 1 of that series, the Capitals’ only win of the postseason.
Capitals Have More Overtime Losses Than 2020-21
For a team that ranks fifth in the league in goals, the Capitals have been surprisingly ineffective with more open ice and have already have surpassed last season’s overtime loss total. Washington was 7-5 in the extra session in 2020-21, including three losses in the five-minute 3-on-3 overtime – all against the Pittsburgh Penguins – and a pair of shootout setbacks.
Only two of their losses came after the halfway mark of the extra session; the most recent two didn’t even reach the two-minute mark and ended before there was much of a chance for an opening shift change.
At 3-on-3, Washington has had trouble maintaining possession, and on Thursday, failed to control the puck, allowing the Panthers to tire them out, as we saw with Wilson, who was trapped on the ice for nearly two minutes before the game-winner was deflected off his stick.
“It’s unfortunate the way the last one went in with Tom,” Laviolette said afterward. “He was a guy that couldn’t get off the ice and he tried to take his man to the back post, he was in position and it goes off his stick and in the net — and that is where we are at with overtime right now, so we will just keep battling,” (from, “Capitals rally to force overtime but once again can’t close the deal,” The Washington Post, 11/4/21).
Washington has played some tight games, with just one regulation loss in their first 10 games (5-1-4), and they have yet to lose by more than a single goal. But they will need to turn this overtime trend around with valuable points up for grabs.
The Capitals are clearly missing Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, two regulars in 3-on-3 play. But they can’t afford to let too many extra points slip away in what figures to be a tight race in the Metro. Fortunately, they have time to correct the issue, and they haven’t lost an extra point to a divisional foe. But they will need to put on a much better showing before it prevents them from earning a top seed in the division.