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Capitals Vs. Coyotes: No Love In Desert For Caps, Drop Third Straight In 3-2 Loss To Coyotes

After leaving Washington, D.C. for a week serenaded by boos from their hometown faithful, the Capitals headed out on a five-game road trip looking for some love. On Valentine's Day, the Caps' search for love came up empty again in a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

A scoreless first period that saw 10 combined shots got the game off to a slow start, but both teams would make up for it in the next two periods. Marcus Johansson opened the scoring at 8:46 after a centering pass bounced off several players in front and somehow beat Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Less than a minute later, Martin Hanzal would respond with a wrister past Michal Neuvirth (15 saves) to tie the game at 1-1. Ray Whitney added a power play goal late in the period to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

In the third period, Vernon Fiddler made it 3-1 at 4:24 after an interesting sequence. Fiddler was in the faceoff circle in the Capitals' offensive zone, but the referee excused him. Fiddler set up on the side as the Coyotes won the faceoff and then sprinted down the ice as John Erskine pinched, leaving the Caps facing a 2-on-1. Scottie Upshall fed Fiddler for the goal as Neuvirth had little chance to slide across the crease.

But just like in the second period, there was a quick response. Matt Bradley scored 40 seconds later on a low wrist shot in the slot which fooled Bryzgalov for his fourth goal of the season. Jeff Schultz, who sent the puck into the offensive zone, and David Steckel, who was able to get the puck to Bradley despite being surrounded by several Coyotes, assisted Bradley on the goal.

The Capitals would do their best to strike again, but a high-sticking double minor penalty on Nicklas Backstrom to former Cap Eric Belanger would put them down by one man for four minutes with only 2:26 remaining. Washington's power play didn't do itself any favors either; the Caps went 0-for-5.

The loss is the Caps' seventh straight against Western Conference opponents, third straight overall and sixth in last eight games.