Updated November 14, 2023 - 9:38 pm
WASHINGTON — Bruce Cassidy let out an exhale in the Capital One Arena basement before running through the Golden Knights’ missed chances.
There were two breakaways from center William Karlsson. One from left wing Ivan Barbashev. A three-on-one that ended with right wing Jonathan Marchessault’s pass getting intercepted. A shot from right wing Pavel Dorofeyev in the slot that was turned aside.
The Knights had more than enough chances to break through the Washington Capitals and goaltender Charlie Lindgren on Tuesday night. They couldn’t do it.
Lindgren made 35 saves for his third career shutout, and the Capitals won 3-0 to improve to 7-1-1 in their past nine games.
The Knights, one day after being honored at the White House for the Stanley Cup championship, didn’t score a goal for the first time since Feb. 27 against Colorado.
“We’re getting the looks, for sure,” captain Mark Stone said. “We just got to score the goals, I guess. I don’t know. It’s pretty simple.”
The final stats tell the tale of an opportunity lost.
The Knights generated a season-high 15 high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five, according to the website Natural Stat Trick. They created look after look in front of Lindgren, including several with no defender in the near vicinity to stop them.
It didn’t matter.
Karlsson, who entered Tuesday with five goals in his previous five games, couldn’t solve Lindgren on two breakaway tries. Neither could Barbashev, who was turned aside even after following his own rebound.
Stone fired a season-high seven shots and saw them all saved.
“We had some great chances,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “Their goalie played good, so good for him. … Tonight wasn’t our night where they were going in.”
The Capitals didn’t miss on one of the few looks they had.
Center Dylan Strome scored on a two-on-one with 3:21 left in the first period to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Goaltender Logan Thompson then kept the Capitals at bay for a while, but it turned out one goal was all it would take.
Center Connor McMichael added an empty-net goal with 49 seconds remaining, and left wing Beck Malenstyn added on 16 seconds later with Thompson back in the net.
It was the Knights’ third loss in their past four games. The last time they got two points from four games was their 0-2-2 road trip from Jan. 22 to 28.
“I think what it came down to today was they beared down on their one chance,” Stone said. “And we didn’t.”
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
1. Cotter’s penalty problems
Left wing Paul Cotter watched the final 34:42 from the locker room.
The 23-year-old received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head on Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov in the second period, resulting in a five-minute power play for Washington. It was Cotter’s second penalty of the game after being whistled for tripping with 1:04 left in the first.
“I don’t think there’s any intent with Paul,” Cassidy said. “Caught him high, and that’s it. He’ll have to deal with it.”
2. Perfect PK
The Knights hung around in large part because of their penalty kill.
They didn’t allow a goal in Washington’s five minutes of power-play time after Cotter’s hit on Kuznetsov and also killed two more minors. The Knights finished 3-for-3 in nine minutes of power-play time to improve to 43-for-50 (86 percent) on the season.
It helps that the Capitals’ power play has struggled all season. Washington ranks last in the NHL on the man advantage at 3-for-41 (7.3 percent).
3. Power-play struggles
The Knights’ success on the kill made their lack of it on the man advantage stand out.
They finished with two shots on two power plays, dropping them to 0-for-8 in their past four games. Both opportunities came with the Knights trailing 1-0.
“When you kill nine minutes before the game’s half over, that’s where your power play has to pick you up,” Cassidy said. “And that’s where it was disappointing with our PP.”