The Caps lost a heartbreaker in Toronto tonight to the Maple Leafs, 3-2, giving up the winning goal with 29 seconds left in the game. Mats Sundin of Toronto scored the game winner on a rebound of an Alexander Steen wristshot that was handled poorly by Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig. In addition, Sundin was free for the rebound primarily because Alexander Semin allowed Sundin to skate by him to the net. Semin can score goals but playing defense is not in his skill set and Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau made a huge mistake having Semin on the ice when the team was less than 30 seconds away from at least getting a point in the game (once a game goes to OT in the NHL each team gets at least one point). Bottom line: Semin shouldn’t have been on the ice and this was a spot where the Caps sorely missed captain Chris Clark who likely would have been on the ice and prevented Sundin from getting the rebound. In the future I would suspect that Boudreau won’t put Semin on the ice in the last minute of any game where the Caps are tied or up by a goal because it could once again prove costly. Losing one point and the shot at two points tonight definitely hurts Washington in a very tight playoff race.
I had a feeling this would be a tough game for the Caps because the Leafs fired GM John Ferguson Jr. on Wednesday and replaced him on an interim basis (although I am not sure 19 months is considered “interim”) with former GM Cliff Fletcher (this scenario was mentioned in my blog on January 16th). The Caps outplayed Toronto much of the night and outshot the Leafs 32-24, however, Toronto goalie Vesa Toksala outplayed Kolzig in net to give the Leafs the opportunity to win the game.
On the positive side for the Caps, Alexander Ovechkin scored his league leading 39th goal and Semin remained hot on the offensive side of the rink, netting his 12th goal and sixth in the last six games.
With the loss the Caps remain only three points behind Southeast Division leading Carolina (52 points) but the Caps have three games in hand on the Hurricanes. Atlanta (49 points) is still tied the Caps but has played two more games.
The Caps get another shot at Toronto tonight at the Verizon Center. Faceoff is at 7pm and this is the last game for Washington before the All-Star break this weekend.