Caps Let Golden Opportunity Slip By in Loss

March 17, 2012 | Ed Frankovic

The Caps lose "four point" game in Winnipeg, 3-2. Lots of good and bad in tough loss.

The Washington Capitals had a chance to pretty much end the season of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night but they let a golden opportunity slip by in a 3-2 regulation loss in the second tilt of a five game road trip.

The loss, which wasted a superb goaltending effort from Tomas Vokoun (25 saves), ends the Caps four game winning streak. Winnipeg has now won the last two meetings against Washington and trail the Caps by just two points in the race for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Buffalo Sabres are just a point in back of Winnipeg. All three teams have 11 games remaining.

The Caps, who not only fought a desperate Jets team in a raucous MTS Centre, also had to play against the referees as well. Mike Leggo and Kyle Rehman were downright inconsistent in this one and they also missed a blatant head shot by Mark Stuart on Marcus Johansson that would’ve given Washington a 5 on 3 power play. Stuart should get one of those Brendan Shanahan tapes made on his behalf this weekend. In addition, Keith Aucoin was high sticked and was bleeding late but only two minutes were called. Add in several other missed hooks and holds (see Winnipeg winning goal) on the Jets against Alex Ovechkin and others, some of which were whistled on Washington the other way, and you have to wonder what these guys in stripes are watching?

But even despite the bad zebras, the Caps still had their chances. With 2:22 to go they received the power play they needed but curiously the coaching staff put Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman on the points with the goalie pulled instead of moving the Gr8 down low and putting Mike Green at the blueline. It was a move that doesn’t make any sense unless Green is not 100%. Ovechkin has been getting his goals from in close lately and with him in front of the net it opens up room for other Capitals players. It was a key sequence in the game and the personnel decisions were not up to par there, plain and simple.

On the plus side, Washington’s penalty killing was specatcular, and it had to be with ECHL calibre referees bowing to every whine from the Manitoba faithful (boy are those fans annoying, but they certainly helped their team on Friday). Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, and Karl Alzner, along with Vokoun were outstanding during a 99 second sequence where the Jets had a 2-1 lead and a five on three power play. #83 blocked several shots and Vokoun flat out robbed Blake Wheeler at the side of the net. It was top notch penalty killing that unfortunately was wasted in the loss as the Jets went 0 for 5 on the power play.

In games like this one, where you have a chance to separate yourself from the teams chasing you in the standings, your top players need to produce. Ovechkin and Alexander Semin did not do that on Friday night. Yes, the Gr8 was clutched and grabbed most of the night but he is too predictable with the puck. When a mediocore defenseman like Grant Clitsome takes him out so easily on the boards it is clearly a sign that Ovechkin needs to find some new moves. In addition, the two-time NHL MVP’s free lancing style in his own zone cost the team a goal. With the game tied Ovechkin abandoned his man to chase the puck behind the net. At that point the entire d-zone coverage broke down and ultimately Ovechkin’s original man, Nik Antropov, potted the tally that put the Jets up 2-1 late in period two. Ovechkin has to work harder and be smarter in his own end. Semin only played 12:19 and was -2. That was one of his worst games since Dale Hunter took over behind the bench.

So there are three games left on this important road trip and the Caps have split the first two tilts. They had a great chance to put some spread between them and their pursuers, but they didn’t get the job done and now move on to take on the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday night. That will be a tough test followed by a quick turnaround in Detroit on Monday. It is time for the stars to show up in the Windy City and Motown.

Notes: Johansson left for a portion of the contest after taking the hit from Stuart but did return. Stuart deserves three games for that hit, at least….Mike Knuble did not have a good game and his penalty late in period two was an awful decision and play…Beagle was outstanding playing 19:53 and winning 14 of 20 draws..the Jets are in town next week, so the Caps get another chance at putting the Winnipeg club away for the year.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. Yaw Axis Says:

    Yes, the reffing sucked, but let’s be honest here – it sucked both ways. Leggo and Rehman kept their whistles in their pockets pretty much all game.

    The Stuart hit – it’ll definitely be reviewed. As a Jets fan, I wouldn’t want to see him sit, but he definitely got his arms up. The other part of it is that Johansson was too busy looking behind himself to prepare to take the hit. Might be 2, but don’t think it’d be more than that – and I’m only gonna say about a 50% chance of a suspension being levied.

    Judging from what Brooks Laich said post-game, though, the rematch in a week is gonna *mighty* fun to watch.

  2. eric s Says:

    again,hunter played not to lose instead of playing to win.when the jets scored the 4 on 4 winning goal,semin nor ovechkin touched the ice.i’m sorry but beagle and hendricks and ward and whoever arent going to put much pressure on a team playing 4 on 4 and it cost the caps the game.semin was a -2 tonight but neither of those goals were his fault at all.chimera had 3 shots on goal while playing under 10 minutes of 5 on 5 and semin had 2 shots on goal while plaing under 10 minutes of 5 on 5 compare that to beagle and brower who played over 17 minutes each(beagle almost 20 minutes)they had 2 shots on goal have to put the guys on the ice that can score and if you think jay beagle,troy brower or joel ward(who played more then semin tonight) will lead the caps to the playoffs you’re crazy.and perreault who scored tonight on the pp only played 8:57 minutes of 5 on 5.the jets played their stars tonight,the caps played their grinders.again for the third game in a row i will say aucion should center semin and chimera.also throw semin out there on the pk,he might actually score a shorthanded goal.bruce did it and bruce won alot more games then hunter.

  3. eric s Says:

    the jets also hit the pipe 3 or 4 times,this game could have been really ugly

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