With a two game losing streak in tow, the Washington Capitals looked to get back into the win column on Monday night in Ottawa and for two periods it sure seemed like they would do so easily. Then a horror show third period ensued and the Caps gave up two goals while taking three penalties to allow the Senators to tie the game up on deflections. Mike Green then decided to roll the dice and gamble too much in overtime on back to back occassions. After a spectacular Varlamov save on the first two on one break, #52 took a chance again and this time the Senators scored on another deflection to win 4-3, in overtime. The loss drops the Caps to 13-5-6 on the season. Here is the period by period recap followed by the post game analysis:
End of 1st Period: Caps 2, Senators 1
Washington came out looking very fresh and nothing like the team that had cement in their skates on Saturday night in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Leafs. The Caps dominated the first couple of shifts but could not get the puck by Senators goalie Brian Elliott and when Jeff Schultz gave the puck away up the boards with a blind pass, Ottawa threw a shot on net and Peter Regin went right behind Green to the front of the net to tip it by Semyon Varlamov 7:27 in. That gave the Sens momentum and they hit the post shortly thereafter. But then Alexander Ovechkin, who “Manned Up” for playing subpar on Friday and Saturday night, made a nice pass to Brian Pothier who shot one off of a planted but turning Chris Clark’s skate and into the net to tie things up. Nice job by Comcast play-by-play man, Joe Beninati, explaining why the goal counted. The spark plug, Mathieu Perreault, who was the center on the Caps great first shift, then drew a hooking penalty and although Washington did not score during the power play they got it right after it expired, as Green set up Brendan Morrison for a tap in.
The Caps look like they have so much more energy tonight than over the weekend against an Ottawa team that is off to a good start on the season at 11-6-3. Both goalies are playing well and all three goals were put in from right in front. Washington is going to the net but so are the Senators and Green is fortunate that Varly bailed him out with the best save of the period on Jonathan Cheechoo right before the penalty that Perreault drew. Ovechkin looks determined to win tonight and is more focused in his own zone.
End of 2nd Period: Caps 3, Senators 1
This period was pretty much all Capitals but they could only pocket one tally. Elliott was good and lucky in net. He robbed Clark late after being set up by the birthday boy, Nicklas Backstrom (22), and the right post stopped Ovechkin early in the period. Washington is moving their feet tonight and the forecheck has been relentless. That super forecheck led to a turnover and Jay Beagle received the puck all alone in the slot and buried it, low blocker, by Elliott for his first ever NHL goal for the only second period lamp lighter. Ottawa had a few good shifts but were outshot 10-7 in period two. The Caps have yet to take a penalty but they have a history of doing that in 3rd periods this season. Tonight would be a good time to turn this one into a rout early in the final stanza. The Great #8 seems focused and #19 is overdue for a goal too. The win is there for the taking if Washington continues to play the same way they have in the first two periods.
End of 3rd Period: Caps 3, Senators 3
Tell me if you have seen this movie before? The Caps, on the strength of two terrible Dave Steckel giveaways, one while shorthanded, give up two Ottawa goals. Both were from long range blasts with traffic in front. Ovechkin took a penalty on a rough after it looked like he was interfered with. Washington took three penalties in the last period after taking none in the first two periods. Simply put, they stopped moving their feet and Ottawa racheted their energy level up. The Caps had no answer for the Sens and were fortunate to get to OT.
Green takes a couple of bad chances and gives up consecutive odd man rushes. Varlamov came up big on a Spezza-Alfredsson two on one break but on the next rush he would lose on what appeared to be another fluky deflection. Mike Fisher, who is currently dating Carrie Underwood (I thought she was holding out for WNST’s own Glenn Clark??!!), tipped in a Chris Phillips pass from the corner allowing the Caps to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Here is the post game analysis on this one:
The Caps took zero penalties in the first two periods and then took three in the third period. Why did it happen? Really simple, Washington stopped skating and Ottawa took advantage. Maybe the Capitals thought this would be easy going up 3-1 heading into the 3rd period but Ottawa is back this year? Ottawa, who was being outshot 25-15 through two periods went on an 18-3 tear in the 3rd. This was a terrible, terrible loss and Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau went ballistic on his guys afterwards, even though they are dealing with a bunch of injuries. The outburst was justified as Boudreau used an expletive to describe his teams play in the last period, then corrected it to “bad,” and said Ottawa outworked his team in the third period. He finished by saying “we let our goalie out to dry.”
Steckel, other than face-offs, is really struggling and his defensive giveaways were just awful. On the first one he throws the puck up the boards without even looking and then on the second miscue, with Washington shorthanded, he chose to not make the simple dump out and when he tried to pass the puck it was stolen from him. #39 has no goals this season.
Green had been playing very well until tonight. He had a good pass to set up the second goal but his ability to clear the front of the net was not there and the decisions he made in overtime were absolutely boneheaded. In fact, Ottawa put on a clinic in the third period on how to beat the Caps defense: throw the puck to the point and go to the net for deflections and rebounds. Those who continue to call for defensive help, specifically a body to clear the front of the goal, have lots of room to talk after this poor Capitals defensive zone third period performance.
Ovechkin and Backstrom had 8 shots on goal but they also had 8 miss the net, many of them on good opportunities. Simply put: these guys have got to get it on the cage more often. The two of them disappeared after their solid first shift in period three and the Great #8’s penalty, which was a borderline call, did result from Ovie getting a little careless with his arms (the league is focused on cracking down on hits to the head). Ovechkin looked healthier tonight but wasn’t able to deliver when the Caps needed him. In his defense, he did backcheck much harder tonight. The Caps clearly miss Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble as Clark is on the top line, and although he gives everything he has night after night, he is too slow footed and he can’t finish like #28 and #22.
Washington was buried in the face-off circle, 36-24, and ended up getting outshot, 37-28. Ottawa basically played 20+ minutes of hockey and walked away with the two points. Elliott and the Caps constant off target shots saved the Senators through 40 minutes. To top things off, the Capitals power play went 0 for 3 and they are now 0 for 10 in the last three games (all against Canadian teams).
So the Caps end up going 0-1-2 against teams North of the Border over the last four days and will try to break their three game slide on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center against the Buffalo Sabres at 7pm.