The Capitals' Peculiar Third-Period Performances

The Washington Capitals blew three separate one-goal leads against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, most painfully a 3-2 lead with less than 12 minutes remaining en route to a 4-3 loss, their third straight and ninth in their past 12 games (3-4-5). 

Forward Jussi Jokinen scored the game-tying goal exactly three minutes after Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals the aforementioned lead, and rookie defenseman Olli Maatta scored the game-winner with 1:54 to go. 

The Capitals may be one of the more mercurial teams in the NHL in general, but that also seems to be the case within the last 20 minutes of regulation.

No team in the League has won more games when trailing in the third period this season than the Capitals, who have won nine (not to mention a League-high 49 since the start of the 2008-09 season):

  • Oct. 3 v. Calgary Flames, trailed 4-3, won 5-4 in a shootout
  • Nov. 7 v. Minnesota Wild, trailed 2-1, won 3-2 in a shootout
  • Nov. 12 v. Columbus Blue Jackets, trailed 3-2, won 4-3 in overtime
  • Nov. 15 v. Detroit Red Wings, trailed 3-1, won 4-3 in a shootout
  • Nov. 29 v. Montreal Canadiens, trailed 2-1, won 3-2 in a shootout
  • Nov. 30 v. New York Islanders, trailed 2-1, won 3-2 in overtime
  • Dec. 10 v. Tampa Bay Lightning, trailed 5-4, won 6-5 in a shootout
  • Dec. 15 v. Philadelphia Flyers, trailed 4-1, won 5-4 in a shootout
  • Jan. 10 v. Toronto Maple Leafs, trailed 2-1, won 3-2 

Yet Washington's loss on Wednesday was its fifth when leading in the third period (and third in regulation), tied for fifth-most:

  • Oct. 1 v. Chicago Blackhawks, led 4-3, lost 6-4
  • Oct. 28 v. Vancouver Canucks, led 2-1, lost 3-2
  • Nov. 9 v. Phoenix Coyotes, led 3-1, lost 4-3 in a shootout
  • Dec. 21 v. New Jersey Devils, led 3-1 and 4-2, lost 5-4 in overtime
  • Jan. 15 v. Pittsburgh Penguins, led 3-2, lost 4-3

For what it is worth, the Capitals have scored 38 third-period goals in 47 games, 25th in the NHL, and have allowed 44, which ranks 13th. 

This is a rather peculiar trend, but when considering that the Capitals have struggled to find consistency all season long, perhaps not.

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