When the Washington Capitals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena on the final day of February, the bout featured two franchises trending in very different directions. Auston Matthews and the league’s top powerplay visited our nation’s capital for the first time this season riding high — lighting up Detroit for 10 goals in their last game.
Conversely, the Caps have struggled in nearly all phases of the game in 2022. Since the calendar flipped, Washington has posted a less-than-impressive 8-11-2 record which includes a five-game losing streak at home — the team’s longest home losing streak since 2007. Considering the Capitals ended 2021 tied with Tampa Bay for the most points in the league, they’ve picked a bad time to take their foot off of the gas.
The maddeningly inconsistent Ilya Samsonov started in net for the Capitals … and gave up a goal on the second shot he faced. The 25-year-old netminder then allowed two goals in the final 71 seconds of the first period prompting coach Peter Laviolette to end his night early.
While Washington was able to keep things relatively competitive for most of the evening, Toronto ultimately cruised to a convincing 5-3 win. Tom Wilson scored twice, once on the powerplay and once shorthanded, and Conor Sheary added his 12th goal of the season for the free-falling Caps — who drop to 3-8-1 at Capital One Arena in 2022, with none of those victories in regulation.
If this season is going to be remembered as anything other than a disappointment, Washington needs to get back on track sooner rather than later.