BALTIMORE—The Washington Capitals’ recent pattern of up-and-down play continued last weekend.
They turned in a bit of a sluggish effort in a 5-2 loss in Buffalo on Feb. 23. That often happens on the final game of a long road trip – this was the last part of a six-game trip – but the Capitals still struggled the next day at home.
However, they came out on top in a 6-5 overtime victory over the New York Rangers at home in a Feb. 24 matinee. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game-winning goal in the extra period that gave Washington two points in a wild contest where they blew two two-goal leads and saw New York score in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
“We got off to a slow start,” said Caps coach Todd Reirden. “Obviously, they were able to score on the first shift. Our team hung in there, never quit, battled. That game had a little bit of everything in it for certain, and then we found a way to get the winner.”
Washington made trades to acquire left wing Carl Hagelin and defenseman Nick Jensen last week, both of whom will be used to help the struggling penalty killing unit. Each made their debuts last weekend with Hagelin playing twice, and Jensen going once.
The Capitals have been at or near the top in taking minor penalties for a while now, and they have not killed the penalties off nearly as well as last season.
FOR THE WIZARDS, LOSSES ON CONSECUTIVE NIGHTS
The Wizards wasted two great performances from Bradley Beal leading to a loss on Feb. 22 and the following day.
Beal scored 46 points in the first game, where Charlotte handed Washington a 123-110 loss. The next game saw the All-Star guard post 35, but it went for naught as Indiana beat the Wizards 119-112.
Beal told the team’s web site that the Wizards, who are still fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, must be at their best every night.
“We’ve got to understand that every team we play here on out is a playoff team,” Beal said. “We are going to get everybody’s best shot, and everybody is a pro. We’ve got to respect everybody on the floor, every single possession.”
In the loss to Indiana, Thomas Bryant pitched in with 23 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. He’s been more of a force in the second half of this season.
The loss to the Pacers left Washington four and a half games out of the final playoff spot.
SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR BAYSOX
The Bowie Baysox, the Class AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, will have their schedule and possible playoff scenarios look different this season due to Eastern League moves announced last week.
The Eastern League said that it is going away from the full-season format and changing to a split-season format. That means that whichever teams is in first place at the end of each half of the season makes it to the playoffs.
For 2019, the last day of the first half will be June 19. The second half finishes up on Sept. 2, which also is going to be the last day of the regular season.
The league said that this will be used in both the Eastern and Western Divisions.
But if one team wins both halves of the season, then the team with the best full-season record gets the second playoff berth. This will be determined by won-loss record and not winning percentage.
The playoffs are going to have the first- and second-half winners from each division playing each other. Those winners then move on the Championship Series.
Bowie won its only franchise championship in 2015.