When a front office constructs a veteran-laden roster, such as the case with the Washington Capitals, they are banking on smart and savvy established players rising to the occasion in key moments to guide their team to victory when it matters most. And make no mistake, Caps coach Peter Laviolette places a premium on experience and consistency when filling out his lineup card on game nights.
The downside to trotting out one of the oldest roster in the NHL is that players closer to the end of their careers than the beginning often times struggle to stay healthy. Case in point: Washington is without the services of Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, Carl Hagelin and Connor Brown as they all recover from long-term injuries.
Compounding matters, Washington hosted the Vegas Golden Knights without defenseman John Carlson and forward T.J. Oshie, after losing both to lower-body injuries against Nashville. Vegas arrived with plenty of momentum, riding a four-game winning streak, as well as the best record in the Western Conference. The beleaguered Caps probably wanted nothing more than a nap and a night off, playing the second half of a back-to-back.
And yet, for the briefest of moment, it appeared as the Capitals had stolen a much-needed win as forward Garnet Hathaway lit the lamp at the end of regulation. Sadly, a replay review showed Hathaway’s goal came after time had expired. Vegas scored a goal that actually counted less than a minute into overtime and escaped with a 3-2 win over the Red Rockers.
Backup goalie Charlie Lindgren played well, stopping 28 shots in his home debut for Washington, who drops to 5-4-2 on the season.