Why Capitals' Game 3 gaffe looked familiar to Kings fans

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Why Caps' Game 3 gaffe looked familiar to Kings fans originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For a game that went into double overtime, Wednesday’s Game 3 between the Capitals and the Boston Bruins felt wrong that it ended with a gaffe behind the net. 

But a Stanley Cup playoff game ending like that wasn’t exactly unprecedented. 

In 2013 during Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, goaltender Jonathan Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, misplayed the puck behind his own net and Alexander Steen slammed home the loose puck to give the St. Louis Blues a 1-0 series lead. To make matters worse, Quick’s mistake came with the Kings 40 seconds into a four-minute power play. 

Wednesday, a similar situation occurred when Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov and defenseman Justin Schultz misplayed a puck behind the Capitals’ net in double overtime. Craig Smith won the battle and pushed the puck home as the Capitals lost 3-2 and fell behind 2-1 in the series.

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“It looked like one of them went for 'leave it' and one went for an outlet pass,” coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “There was just a little bit of a miscommunication. It was a tough break the way the game ended. I thought Sammy played a hell of a game for us. It was just tough the way it ended.”

Samsonov was stellar, except for the final play, in his first ever Stanley Cup playoff game and stopped 40 of the Bruins’ 43 shots on net. But that last mistake will linger throughout the series, especially if the Capitals end up losing in six or seven games. 

There's certainly been many, many other instances, like in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final during Game 1 when the Oilers gave away the puck behind the net and Carolina Hurricanes forward -- and now head coach -- Rod Brind'Amour put home the loose puck with 31.1 seconds left to play to lift Carolina to a win. That series, Laviolette was the beneficiary as coach of the Hurricanes. Six games later, they hoisted the Stanley Cup. 

If there was a silver lining to the play for the Capitals it’s that throughout the game, Samsonov asserted himself as the team’s No. 1 goalie through the first 80 or so minutes and someone that can keep a team in a game if need be.

And for Samsonov the silver lining is that Quick, in that series in 2013, rallied to lead the Kings to a series win and posted a .934 save percentage in those playoffs. Los Angeles made it to the Western Conference final that year and won its second Cup the next all with Quick in net. 

“Sometimes we have a bad situation behind the net,” Samsonov said. “But we fix it, and we will (be) better next time, more communication, we’ll (be) better.”