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Carlson: Capitals 'just need to play better' as playoff hopes sink

Ottawa Senators Mark Kastelic scores vs. Capitals - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Charlie Lindgren allowed three goals on 21 shots, the last by Jake Sanderson in overtime, and the Washington Capitals lost a sixth consecutive game, a 3-2 defeat to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night that's yet another blow to their playoff hopes late in the NHL season.

The Capitals sit on the outside looking in with five games left to play, despite goals from Max Pacioretty and Aliaksei Protas. They're tied with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, all one point back of Detroit for the second and final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference and two behind the New York Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

“We just need to play better," said defenceman John Carlson, who was celebrated before puck drop for reaching the 1,000 games milestone. "I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders like we were there for a little bit. Too many turnovers, too many mistakes that we shouldn’t be making and giving teams more life than they deserve or need.”

Carlson and his teammates visit the Red Wings on Tuesday night in a game that could prove pivotal in the post-season chase, though losing to Ottawa already put Washington in a difficult spot.

This one fell apart similarly to Friday, when the Caps allowed the go-ahead goal to Carolina with 1:51 left in regulation. This time, Ridly Greig scored with 7:17 left in regulation and Sanderson got the winner 41 seconds into 3-on-3 overtime.

"Obviously, it’s frustrating," centre Hendrix Lapierre said. “You want to win at this time of the year, especially. A couple overtime games, a couple games where you let the goal in the last couple minutes. It’s just been a little tough, but we’ll put our head down, keep working.”

In addition to losing the game, they also lost defenceman Rasmus Sandin to what the team called an upper-body injury. His head hit a stanchion after getting bumped on his final shift, and coach Spencer Carbery said Sandin will miss some time.

“It’s not ideal," Carlson said. "He’s a big part of our team, and you never want to see that, too, from everybody. It’s a blow to us, but we don’t have time to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to win out and hope for the best.”

Mark Kastlic also scored and Joonas Korpisalo made 19 saves in net for the Senators, who ended their three-game skid.

“It wasn’t easy," Greig said. "The boys stuck with it all the way. Good to see us battle back and put together a full 65 minutes there.”


Senators: Visit the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

Capitals: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.