Whatever funk the Washington Capitals are currently mired in carried over into their game on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
Despite playing what was arguably their most dominant period of the season in the first, one in which they thoroughly dictated the pace and were rewarded with a 2-0 lead while holding the Wild to only one shot, the Capitals completely unraveled.
Washington's well-deserved lead evaporated less than eight minutes into the second period as undisciplined play and egregious defensive-zone coverage allowed Minnesota, which had just snapped a franchise-record six-game losing streak (all in regulation), to rally for a 5-3 victory.
It was the Capitals' fourth straight loss and sixth in their past seven games, but this was by far the worst as they pushed the boundaries of historic futility.
The Capitals, who are the only team in the NHL to have never won at Xcel Energy Center (0-6-1), actually set a franchise record on Saturday, allowing the fewest shots (11) they ever have in a road game, breaking the previous record of 12 set on Jan. 17, 1996, against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Yet in doing so, they became the first team since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1973-74 to allow five goals on fewer than 12 shots, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The loss was the second in team history in which the Capitals held their opponent to 11 shots (they lost 3-2 to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 3, 1995), and only the 11th such loss throughout the NHL since the aforementioned game.
That is far from it. Wild defenseman Ryan Suter's hat trick -- the first of his 634-game career -- was the second in as many games against the Capitals. Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner earned his second-career three-goal game on Thursday, marking the first time since Dec. 23-26, 1992, that Washington has surrendered hat tricks in consecutive games (Buffalo's Alex Mogilny and Philadelphia's Eric Lindros).
All of these dubious distinctions -- which dropped the Capitals to third place in the Metropoltian Division -- make a disheartening loss and the team's recent woes even more depressing.
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