Wings Squander Opportunity, Lose 3-2 To Capitals

Had you seen these two stats prior to watching the Red Wings take on the Capitals Tuesday night, you would have been overjoyed:

* Jose Theodore would have to face 46 shots.

* Alex Ovechkin would have no shots in 22:13 of ice time.

And for 53 minutes, it looked just that good for the Red Wings.

But in a period of 81 seconds, everything changed. An ill-advised Todd Bertuzzi penalty with goals from Nicklas Backstrom and David Steckel turned the 2-1 lead into a painful 3-2 loss: their third straight loss.

The key difference for the Capitals was that Theodore made 44 saves, on a night that he stood on his head. Meanwhile, Chris Osgood made 20 saves on 23 shots, and the question that will come out of this is whether you blame Osgood or the team in front of him for this loss.

Even the vaunted Capitals power play, ranked first in the NHL at 25.1%, seemed stifled tonight with only one shot. But that shot would prove to be the difference.

The Red Wings scored first on an incredible effort by Dan Cleary. After a Valtteri Filppula shot that was blocked by Theodore, the puck went to Theodore's right. Cleary skated up, missed the open net, but doubled back, regained possession of the puck and, in one motion, flicked it back in from almost along the goal line. It was Cleary's 10th goal of the season, making him the fifth Red Wings player to hit double digits in goals.

In the second period, the Capitals tied it up. Mike Green make a cross-and-up-ice pass to Boyd Gordon, who passed it to a streaking Matt Bradley. Before Osgood could react to the defensive collapse, Bradley had it in the back of the net for his eighth of the season.

The Red Wings struck back in the third, as just after a Capitals power play expired, Filppula was near the far boards when he found Brian Rafalski slowly moving in. Rafalski ripped a shot that seemed to freeze Theodore, despite having plenty of time to prepare for it. The puck found the back of the net to get Rafalski his fourth of the season.

But Washington would respond hard, with a pair of goals. First, with Bertuzzi off a penalty at the opposite end of the ice, Backstrom skated around Brad Stuart and put the puck past Osgood to net his 20th. Then 46 seconds later, it was Steckel who deflected a shot from Alexander Semin that froze Osgood again for his fourth of the season. Suddenly a 2-1 lead flipped to a 3-2 deficit, which the Wings couldn't overcome.

The Red Wings head to Minnesota on Thursday to take on the Minnesota Wild.

Player of the game: Valtteri Filppula. A pair of assists and some heads up play, but it wasn't enough.

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