NEW YORK — A third-period penalty on Artem Anisimov looked to be just what the Washington Capitals needed.
“To be down by a goal and get a power play in the third, you at least want to create momentum, if you’re not going to score,” forward Jeff Halpern said.
Instead, some aggressive play and a bad bounce led to a New York Rangers short-handed goal that all but put the game out of reach.
As John Carlson pinched in from the point, the puck appeared to bounce off Mathieu Perreault’s skate and out to a streaking Brandon Dubinsky. With Brandon Prust joining him on a two-on-one against Alex Ovechkin, Dubinsky made the pass and ignited a capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden.
There was plenty of blame to go around on that one, but it was one of the key moments that led to the Caps’ 3-2 loss and their sixth in the past 10 games.
“The short-handed one is the critical goal,” coach Dale Hunter said. “You want to always say critical goal of the game — that was the big one where you give up a shorty and it ended up being the game-winner.”
Perhaps the ice was in part the problem as Carlson lost his footing, though Ovechkin shouldered a lot of the responsibility for not being better as one of the last lines of defense. He called it “my mistake.”
“I try intercept it, but it goes under my stick,” the captain said. “It was pretty good play by Dubinsky.”
As Halpern pointed out, even not scoring on that power play might have been all right. But giving up a short-handed goal hurt pretty bad.
“We didn’t take care of the puck, and they go down on a two-on-one,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a back-breaker, but it’s not how you draw it up.”
It was just one of a series of mistakes for the Caps all over the ice Sunday.
“That’s unacceptable in that kind of game,” Ovechkin said.
• Stephen Whyno can be reached at email@example.com.
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