Costly mistakes add up in Capitals’ loss to Blues

Costly mistakes add up in Capitals’ loss to Blues originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — Coming off one of their most uplifting wins of the season, the Capitals failed to build on their momentum Friday as a series of odd-man rushes and breakaways allowed the St. Louis Blues to secure a 5-2 victory at Capital One Arena.

The Capitals (33-30-7) have faced long odds for a playoff spot over the last two months. They appeared to breathe some life into their postseason chances Wednesday with a comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres that goaltender Charlie Lindgren described as “the best-feeling win all year.”

Unfortunately for Washington, those good feelings didn’t carry over into Friday’s game. The Blues (30-33-5) grabbed the lead less than two minutes into the contest and never trailed. They kept finding ways to get behind the Capitals’ defense, scoring each of their first three goals without any opposing skaters standing between netminder Darcy Kuemper and the goal-scorer.

What did carry over was the Capitals’ turnover problem. After recording 18 giveaways against Buffalo, they committed another 17 with St. Louis taking the turnover margin 26-20 overall. The Capitals entered play Friday tied for the 12th highest rate of giveaways per game in the NHL at 9.16, though that number has risen to 12.06 since Feb. 1 — 31st in the league over that span.

The Capitals scored a pair of goals in the third period off the sticks of Martin Fehervary and Nicklas Backstrom, but it was too late of a push to turn the result around before a Blues empty-netter iced the game. Backstrom's tally came on a 6-on-4 situation with Kuemper pulled, the second time in as many games the Capitals scored with the two-man advantage.

Twelve games remain on the Capitals’ schedule and it’s going to take a historic run down the stretch for them to make the playoffs. They’ll look to get such a streak started Sunday when they travel to take on the Minnesota Wild, who are playing without injured star left wing Kirill Kaprizov.