Time is ticking for the Washington Capitals in their hopes of a Stanley Cup playoff birth. In the most recent contest’s that have been some of their most important games to jump ahead in the standings, the team has failed to come out with a superb effort.
The first forty minutes against the Flyers Wednesday night was as bad of hockey the Caps have played all season. They fought back in the third period, but it was too late to muster two points. With back-to-back road games, Washington had to put their suffering loss behind them as they faced the Boston Bruins Thursday night.
Dmitry Orlov, John Erskine and Mikhail Grabovski were among the scratches for the night, so Washington had to rely on some of their younger players to step up. Cameron Schilling was called up from Hershey to replace Erskine for the night and recently acquired forward Chris Brown saw his first action as a Capital. Schilling was paired with Connor Carrick in the third defensive set.
Boston drew a penalty early in the second frame and Tuukka Rask went to the bench. With a six on five-man advantage on the ice, the Bruins moved the puck well across the ice. Patrice Bergeron fired the puck to the net and Gregory Campell got a stick on it to tip the puck in past Holtby. The Bruins had two bodies in front of the net, creating good traffic to prevent Holtby from stepping in front of the deflection.
The Bruins added to their lead when Carl Soderberg was working behind the net in the Bruins offensive zone. Eric Fehr lost track of his man Loui Eriksson on the crease and Soderberg made a great pass to Eriksson for the layup goal. Brad Marchand added an empty net goal near the conclusion of the game to increase the final score to 3-0.
Washington simply put out a lackluster effort in a very important game at TD Garden. Rask got his first win ever vs. the Caps in a shutout fashion. Washington has had a trend as of late which is not something to brag about. In their last two games, in the first forty minutes of each match they have only put out eight shots on goal.
It is essential for a team on the road to get off to a fast start and put the pressure on the home team. Washington was inept on offense throughout the night at TD garden. They could not get the puck through the neutral zone, as the Bruins defense was stout. When the Caps dumped the puck down, Boston was quick to get to the puck and start transition the other way. Washington could not get any type of cycle going in the offensive zone to help generate solid possession time.
There is only one positive you could draw away from this game and it was the Capitals goalie play. A night after getting pulled early, Braden Holtby knew he had to put on a good show. Holtby stood on his head all night in Boston giving his team a chance to win the game. Holtby made 40 saves on his 42 shots faced, which amounts to be a .952 save percentage. It is always good to see a goalie respond in that type of fashion the day after a poor performance.
The season is winding down and the opportunities are beginning to fade away for the Washington Capitals. They remain just one point out from the final wild card spot and two points out from third place in the Metro division. Luckily for the Caps, four of their next five games are at home. This becomes the most crucial stretch for Washington, as they must take advantage of being on their home ice. The first of those home games takes place Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Martin Erat makes his return to the Verizon Center in an opposing uniform and it seems like newly acquired goalie Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Capitals.