Doug Pensinger - Varly

This guy. (Photo: Doug Pensinger)

The Capitals kind of blew it on Saturday night. Easing off the metaphorical gas in the third period, they gave the Coyotes the opportunity to tie the game and end Washington’s winning streak. That was a disappointment and perhaps reason to lower expectations for Sunday night’s date with the Colorado Avalanche. The back half of back-to-back games, following an overtime loss, played in a city where it’s apparently hard to breathe or something: those are the excuses we might sling around to explain the Caps’ performance. Regardless, they definitely weren’t the better team on Sunday, and despite a good rally in the third period, this was pretty much all Avalanche, all the time.

Cody McLeod chipped up the puck up high to beat Braden Holtby in the first. Joel Ward crashed the net to tie it up in the second, but Nick Holden was like nu-uh and tied it back up 30 seconds later. The Capitals couldn’t score on a longer power play, and then P.A. Parenteau put the Avs up 3-1. Gabriel Landeskog got the dagger with under two minutes left.

Avalanche beat Caps 4-1.

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Colorado’s Jan Hejda tripped Alex Ovechkin near the end of the second period of the Sunday’s Avs-Caps game. Ovechkin went horizontal, his face smeared into the boards. He lied motionless for over a minute while every Caps fan did his or her best not to lose his or her mind.

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Tom Wilson - Patrick McDermott

Finally. Inevitably. (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

Riding a four-game win streak (now a five-game point streak), the Capitals made no adjustments to their lineup this week. That’s not surprising, and it seems apparent now that Adam Oates is nothing like the tinkerer Bruce Boudreau was when it came to fiddling with lines and pairings. That’s not a value judgment– just an observation.

We’re now 17 games into the season– a little over one fifth– and the Capitals are sitting three points out of the division lead. I probably don’t need to tell you that the Caps’ success so far has been driven by special teams (#1 power play, #2 penalty kill). At even strength, things seem to be improving, though you shall be the judge as to how much.

Let’s do the numbers.

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