The Washington Capitals brought a six game winning streak into Friday night’s contest against the New York Islanders, a team they had gone to overtime against three of the last four times they have played one another, but tonight they finally were beaten, 4-3 in extra time, on Mark Streit’s blast in the slot off of a great feed from John Tavares. The Caps do pick up a point while dropping to 8-2-3.
Washington struck first on the second half of a double minor for high sticking to Islanders forward Kyle Okposo when an Alexander Ovechkin slapper squeezed through the pads of Dwayne Roloson for Ovie’s 14th goal of the season. The Caps then successfully killed off a Shaone Morrisonn tripping penalty thanks to goalie Jose Theodore alertly freezing the puck after Nicklas Backstrom lost his stick, which effectively gave New York a five on three advantage.
The Islanders then tied things up when Theodore gave up a long range snap shot from the top of the slot to Okposo after Keith Aucoin and Chris Clark could not corral the puck at neutral ice. Okposo carried the puck in to the zone but Morrisonn, who had Milan Jurcina to his right for assistance, backed up instead of challenging the Islander. #26 also partially screened Theo, but #60 still should have had the shot. The soft goal made it 1-1.
Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Alexander Semin had a few chances to score again but they overpassed the puck. Semin gave up a great shot in front on one sequence and then the Great #8 had a two on one break with #28 after a steal and he passed up a glorious opportunity from the slot and the Islander defender broke the attempted pass up.
Mike Green took a shot off of the foot on his last shift of the first period but he returned to start the 2nd period. Early on in the middle stanza, Clark took a tripping penalty off of a defensive zone face-off and other than a nice move by the 2009 1st overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Tavares, Washington easily shut down the Isles power play.
A brutal Green giveaway on a fanned pass up the middle of the ice led to a golden chance for Frans Nielsen and he put it top shelf on Theodore to give New York the lead. With the bad state of the ice #52 has to be smarter about the plays he is making directly in front of his own goal. But Washington quickly struck back as Clark intercepted an errant pass by Roloson behind his own net and he fired it in front and Tomas Fleischmann jammed it home for his first goal of the season (only his second game of the year). Theodore then got a lucky break when Tavares hit the right post on a 3 on 2 break. Semin followed that up with his best chance of the game when he got the puck all alone in front of the Islanders goalie but he could not beat Roloson, who came up big for his club.
With under five minutes left in the second period Mike Knuble worked hard to draw a hooking call on Mark Streit and the Caps power play made the Islanders pay. Washington kept the puck in the New York zone for 79 seconds and a dog tired Islander penalty killing group were resigned to standing still like orange cones when a Green slap shot ricocheted off of Roloson’s pads and Fleischmann swatted it home at the right post for his second goal of the night to give the Caps a 3-2 lead. But that advantage vanished quickly as the lack of aggression from Washington’s defense cost them again. Milan Jurcina had position on Nielsen in the slot but he did not force #51 and the Islander slid a low soft shot under Theodore to tie the game up at three. #60 was slightly screened but he would like to have that one back.
The Caps received a scare when Ovechkin took a Backstrom pass off of his skate and limped to the bench but he did not miss a shift and Backstrom was tripped in the corner with 13:06 left to give Washington a power play. Roloson then just got enough of a Green point blast and gloved a backhander from #19 in front as Washington put a ton of pressure on in the first 40 seconds of the man advantage. After the next face-off Knuble was called for goalie interference when Roloson did his best Paul Newman impersonation and on the ensuing power play Theodore robbed Tavares in tight.
On a delayed penalty call, interference on Streit, the Caps came very close to taking the lead with Theodore off for the extra skater but the Islanders finally got possession with 4:20 left. Roloson then made several good saves and the game went to overtime.
In the OT, Morrisonn decided to carry the puck into the offensive zone, instead of dumping it in, and when the biscuit was taken from him behind the Islanders goal he was caught up ice and was out of position. #26 then was beaten badly behind the net by Tavares who centered the puck to Streit for the game winner.
Here is my analysis and comments on tonight’s game:
- Had I known remembered this game was not on TV in high definition I would have gone to the Verizon Center. No HD is just bad news. Thanks for nothing Wizards.
- I thought the worst Capital on the ice tonight was Morrisonn. His hockey sense on Friday was awful. He took a bad penalty early, misplayed Okposo on the first Islanders goal, and had several brutal shifts, including the final one of the game. My question to #26 is this: Why are you carrying the puck behind the opponents net in overtime instead of dumping it in? Morrisonn should realize he is not Green or Tom Poti and needs to stay within himself. The mental mistake set up the entire closing sequence of this contest. The former first round draft pick was -2 in only 14:43 of ice time.
- Washington outshot the Islanders, 40-30, but for the first time in several games the opposing goalie, Roloson (37 saves), outplayed the Caps net minder. Theodore gave up four goals on 30 shots and two of them, despite partial screens, should have definitely been stopped. #60 is 3-2-3 this season and did not follow up Tuesday night’s superb performance against the Flyers with a solid outing.
- The ice, from what I could gather in low definition on televison, looked awful and as a result there were several pucks that were fanned on, including the one Green gaveaway in front for a goal. Semin misfired on several shots and I don’t know if it was the ice or his lack of focus. #28 continues to float at times and he has to be a very frustrating player for Bruce Boudreau to coach. The guy has all of the talent in the world but sometimes he appears to not give a hoot when he is on the ice.
- Much has been made of the fact that the Caps haven’t been giving a 60 minute effort but tonight they outplayed the Islanders overall. As I mentioned above, goaltending was the difference and Washington just made some mental mistakes as well. You also can’t discount the way New York plays.
- “They work and they play hard. They have lost one of their last six in regulation,” added Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau.
- Fleischmann, who was only playing his 2nd game of the season, has been really good in both contests and definitely adds some scoring punch to the line-up. For the most part his line, with Aucoin and Clark played very well for Boudreau.
- Backstrom went 10-7 from the face-off circle as the Caps won the overall battle 32-28.
- The Caps power play was really good again (2 for 6) and might have had three or four goals if not for Roloson, who was the clear #1 star of the game, in my book. The Islanders did not score on any of their three power plays.
- I watched the post game covergae on CSN+ and based on some of the questions I heard from the media who regularly covers the team you would think the Caps are 3-10 and in last place. This team has 19 points in its first 13 games and is in first place in the Southeast Division. You cannot win the Stanley Cup in October so people need to relax a bit. This is a very good hockey team that needs to clean up some bad tendencies and perhaps some tweaks to the roster are needed, primarily on defense when salary cap room is freed up, but overall everyone needs to ease up!