Capitals beat Red Wings with only nine healthy forwards

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The Washington Capitals had a brutal first period on Friday night when they lost three forwardsT.J. Oshie, Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky — to injury.

None of them returned.

That meant they had to play more than two-thirds of their game against the Detroit Red Wings with only nine healthy forwards, basically becoming a three-line team.

That is a staggering run of bad injury luck for one game. But the most amazing thing about the night is that it still did not stop them from winning the game, 1-0, thanks to a Jay Beagle goal with five minutes to play in regulation.

It’s worth wondering if this game says more about the Capitals and their ability to fight through a tough-luck night, or the Red Wings’ inability to do anything against them.

On one hand, it’s an impressive effort by the Capitals to play with that short of a bench for that long and still come away with a win. Especially when they ended up not only winning the game on the scoreboard, but also continuing to control the play for most of the game. They outshot Detroit 28-25 in all situations and 23-19 at even-strength. And it’s not like those were just run-of-the-mill players that had to exit the game. Those are all top-nine forwards.

That is also what makes it a pretty bad loss for the Red Wings.

The fact they could only generate 19 even-strength shots against a team dealing with that kind of injury situation has to be a discouraging development for a team that has now won just two of its past 10 games after a 6-2-1 start. Even worse is that there is little to indicate this is just bad luck. Once the most dominant puck possession team in the league, the Red Wings currently sit 29th in the NHL in shot attempt differential (ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes) and are giving up 32 shots on goal per game.

Not a good sign for what might be still to come this season.