Caps Win in Shootout
The Caps knocked off the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, 3-2, in a shootout and now trail the division leading Hurricanes by four points with five games to go. This was a game the Caps dominated but a couple of quirky goals, one of which was questionable and took five minutes to decide, cost Washington a victory in regulation. The other bad news of the night was that both the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers won and so the Caps still trail the Flyers by four points and the Bruins by two points (Boston has a game in hand on both teams).
Washington outshot Carolina, 44-27, and carried the play for most of the game but Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward played outstanding in net. Cristobal Huet won his fourth straight game in goal for the Caps.
Alexander Ovechkin was his usual dominant self putting 11 shots on net and scoring his 61st goal of the season. The Great #8 was named the #1 star of the game but the hero for Washington was Viktor Kozlov who put a beautiful wrist shot over the glove of Ward to win the game for Washington in the shootout after the Caps failed to capitalize on a power play in overtime.
Next up for Washington is the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Both of these games are on the road before the Caps finish with Carolina, Tampa, and Florida at the Verizon Center next week. As crazy as it seems, the Caps may have to win all five remaining games to make the playoffs because they aren’t getting any help from any other teams right now.
Since acquiring defensemen Brian Campbell from the Buffalo Sabres the San Jose Sharks have won 12 of 13 games with their lone loss coming in a shootout against the Edmonton Oilers. Campbell has been terrific in San Jose and was just the puck moving defensemen this team desperately needed. They are quietly becoming the team to beat in the west but Sharks fans shouldn’t get too excited because you can usually count on Coach Ron Wilson to say something stupid in the playoffs that will hurt his team. I’m sure Caps fans remember when Wilson said the Caps would play the Penguins all seven games in Pittsburgh and still win the series. Then Washington proceeded to handily lose the first round series to the Pens.
The NHL Northwest Division is quickly becoming the “I don’t want it, you take it” division as neither Minnesota, Calgary, Colorado, nor Vancouver has taken control of the division with a solid run of wins. With the NHL schedule focused on division games from here on out this one will likely go right down to the wire. Calgary’s rally from behind against the Canucks tonight puts them on top of the division with 90 points, one ahead of the Wild. Wednesday night it is Vancouver at Colorado in a huge game for both teams.
Anybody notice who one of the other hottest teams in the league is right now? The Edmonton Oilers! The Oilers have won 12 of their last 15 games to give themselves a chance at making the playoffs and are just three points behind eighth place Colorado but Nashville is in between them in ninth place just two points behind the Avalanche. It looks like a case of “too little too late” for Edmonton. The Oilers are in Minnesota to take on the Wild on Wednesday night.
Speaking of Nashville, if the Predators make the playoffs after the salary purge they endured last off-season due to ownership issues then Barry Trotz should be right there with Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau in the running for Coach of the Year. Of course, if both teams miss the playoffs then it will be tough for either to win the award. NHL voters tend to be partial to teams that make the post-season.
There will be no playoffs once again for the Toronto Maple Leafs and as usual the team played just well enough down the stretch to ruin any chance the team had at a very high draft pick. There appears to be no quick cure for Leaf Nation.