Washington has been outscored 7-2 since that point, and the New York Islanders, owners of a 3-0 series lead, are now the ones brimming with confidence as Game 4 nears in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal on Tuesday night.
For the Capitals, they are staring at a second straight first-round exit after they hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time, and without question, an offseason of change lingers. Last season, the Capitals fell to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Obviously, for us right now it’s nothing to lose, right? So we just have to go out there and play,” Ovechkin said. “Don’t think about the score in the series.”
Goaltender Braden Holtby, a question mark for much of this series, had 32 saves in Game 3 on Sunday but allowed the game winner in overtime to New York’s Mathew Barzal 4:28 into the extra session in Toronto.
“I know it’s a hard situation, but it’s not over yet,” Ovechkin said after the 2-1 loss. “We won the Cup when we were down 2-0 against Columbus, coming back, and we’re going to try.”
The Capitals appeared to start Game 3 sluggish and were fortunate Holtby bounced back with a solid performance after giving up four goals in each of the first two games.
Washington coach Todd Reirden will have to figure out how to help his team generate more scoring to stave off elimination perhaps without Nicklas Backstrom, who missed a second straight game in concussion protocol Sunday.
Reirden, a former Washington assistant coach, replaced Barry Trotz, who resigned after the Stanley Cup season, eventually joining the Islanders. And now, Reirden’s job is to try to outcoach his old boss.
“I put pressure on myself all the time,” Reirden said. “I have belief in myself as a coach and belief in our team and our leadership group that we can focus on getting this one win here and seeing where that takes us from there.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.