Power Play Bad in Caps 3-2 Loss to Canucks

December 18, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

The Caps were in Vancouver on Friday night to take on the Canucks but their power play let them down and Vancouver capitalized on some Washington mistakes to win 3-2.

Below is the live blog followed by the end of game analysis:

Based on all of tweets coming from the Caps personnel and media out there, it appears that Alexander Ovechkin is immensely popular in British Columbia and has been the story since the team arrived on Wednesday. In fact, Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post just tweeted that the Great #8 received an ovation as he left the ice after warmups. This should be a great game with the Caps offense going up against one of the best goalies in the NHL in Roberto Luongo. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau is using the same line-up from Tuesday night in Colorado, so that means Jose Theodore in net and Mike Green and Shaone Morrisonn will go despite being banged up in the Mile High city by David Koci.

10:03 – Hershey Bears update, courtesy of Tim Leone and John Walton blogs and tweets: Hershey 3, Rochester 1. Jay Beagle with a goal and an assist, John Carlson with an assist and plus one. Braden Holtby stops 26 of 27 shots. Bears were 1 for 1 with the man advantage while they killed off all 5 Rochester power plays, including two 5 on 3′s (29 and 38 seconds). According to Walton, this was Holtby’s fourth win in six appearances.

10:09 – Sedin twins and Alex Burrows pressure Theodore early. I thought 22 got away with a hold on Alexander Semin.

10:11 – Ovechkin with great set up to Nicklas Backstrom in front but #19 taps puck wide. Great chance there.

10:14 – Caps going to net hard so far. They will need to keep that trend up in order to beat Luongo.

10:17 – Pretty clear that the Canucks are trying the long stretch pass to try and beat the Caps aggressive forecheck. It will be important for the third forward to support the Washington defense tonight to prevent Vancouver odd man rushes.

10:19 – Ryan Kesler scores on a delayed penalty on a fluke bounce off of Jeff Schultz after a save by Theodore. Bad bounce for Washington but they need to tighten up their defense. The gap between #55 and #52 was too wide giving Kesler a lane on a 1 on 2. Brutal.

10:23 – Brooks Laich takes the hit, and he ended up in the Canucks bench, to make the pass and that allows Alexander Semin to fire a screened shot by Luongo to tie this one up at a goal a piece. I tweeted earlier in the week that I would re-sign #28 long term. Plays like that just cement that view.

10:25 – Corey Masisak tweeting that Brendan Morrison and Burrows have been nose to nose a couple of times already. #14 for Vancouver is one of the biggest pests in the NHL.

10:29 – After a rough shift by Karl Alzner and John Erskine, the official calls #4 for holding. That looked like the same type of thing he let one of the Sedins get away with in the first minute on Semin. Once again, no consistency from the referees. But given the lack of consistency from the league office shouldn’t we expect this? Maddening.

10:33 – Caps kill the penalty and Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Mike Knuble put on good pressure but just miss on connecting. Better shift for Alzner there. Perhaps he is a little nervous playing in front of friends and family?

10:38 – Penalty on Rick Rypien for roughing. Washington on their first power play of the evening.

10:40 – Caps PP doesn’t connect but Tom Poti made some good plays at the point on the second unit to set up some chances.

10:42 – Hard working shift results in Chris Clark shooting from the slot, which the Canucks d-man blocked, but it got Luongo down and the Caps captain picked up the puck and snapped it by the Canucks cage minder. 2-1 Caps with 1:34 left in opening period.

10:46 – End of Period One Analysis: The Caps lead 2-1 and had an 11-7 shots advantage. Washington carried the play with only a small number of under par shifts and one of them led to the fluky Canucks goal off of Schultz. Semin was my star of the period and he was all over the ice. The Caps are getting good efforts from a lot of players and the 8-19-22 line nearly connected several times. Boudreau’s crew is firing the puck on net and going for rebounds, which is the best strategy against one of the best goalies in the NHL. They will need to continue to implement that game plan in order to win this one.

10:52 – Think people in Vancouver like hockey? They have 280 straight sellouts for the Canucks. But guess what? Capitals fever is catching on in this area too. According to Caps Media Relations Director, Nate Ewell, Washington has 22 straight regular season sellouts and the streak is up to 30 games if you count last spring’s playoffs. This is a club record and I see that number continuing to grow as the Verizon Center is a hot place to be these days when the Caps take the ice.

11:02 – Period two underway and once again the Sedin line goes right down the ice. A brutal Poti giveaway leads to a scoring chance but goal by #22 waved off because the net was off its mooring. That is two straight periods in which the Sedins went right down the ice on the opening shift and nearly scored.

11:08 – Boudreau switches up defensive pairs after 1st period. Green and Schultz still together but Alzner now with Morrisonn and Erskine and Poti are paired up. The 2007-08 Jack Adams award winning coach is typically spot on with his in game changes.

11:11 – Perhaps there was shift overlap there but the 1st period pairs: 52-55, 26-3, and 27-4 are all back together now.

11:13 – Sedins cycle the puck for a good bit in the Washington end but a nice poke check by Sarge allows Green to break the puck out quickly. A streaking Tomas Fleischmann just fires wide on Luongo from the left wing circle.

11:16 – Erskine tripped by Ryan Johnson at point. Caps power play on the ice.

11:19 – Well that power play was terrible. Backstrom had the puck at the point in one instance and Ovechkin and Green took off down low leaving #19 with no options and the Canucks forced him out of the zone.

11:20 – Washington gets their third power play of the night as Dave Steckel draws a Kevin Bieska hook.

11:24 – Another dud Caps power play as they get no shots on net. The Canucks did a great job of getting to the loose pucks and not letting Washington set up. 0 for 3 on man advantage for Capitals.

11:29 – Lots of end to end action but both teams doing a good job of limiting shots on net. Still 2-1 late in 2nd period.

11:33 – After being very disciplined in the second period Washington has a major breakdown as Green jumps in the play and his shot is knocked to the corner after hitting Luongo. Flash, instead of covering for #52, jumps up on the right wing boards and that allows Mason Raymond to score on a 2 on 1 break against Morrisonn. Fleischmann needs to make a better decision there. He had to see Green ahead of him. 2-2 game, 1:15 left.

11:38 – End of 2nd Period Analysis: Well the Caps had a chance to extend their lead with two straight power plays but the Canucks did not allow Washington to get set up and they got some easy kills. The play was very tight in period two but late in the stanza Washington’s Green jumped up in the play and the third forward (Flash) made a bad decision and that led to a 2 on 1 on Morrisonn for an easy goal. Morrisonn needs to play that 2 on 1 better as well, brutal overall sequence on that second goal. The overall play was fairly even but Vancouver did not give the Caps the room they had in the first period. Shots were 8-6 Caps in that period. Vancouver is the 2nd highest third period scoring team in the league so Washington will have their hands full against a good skating team that gets the last line change.

11:55 – Morrison with nice drop pass to Semin and his snapper just goes high and wide glove side of Luongo.

11:57 – Ovechkin telegraphs a cross ice pass to Green and Raymond, who is having a good game, steals it and races down the rink and fires on Theodore but #60 makes the save. Bad giveaway there.

11:59 – Semin with another nice chance in the slot but Luongo comes up big. #28 seems to have that first period jump back.

12:01 – Craig Laughlin and Joe Beninati saying that Boyd Gordon is doing well and could be headed to Hershey for a conditioning stint. Gordo is a great penalty killer. Quintin Laing apparently close to returning too and is finally eating solid foods (recovering from broken jaw).

12:07 – Caps going on their 4th power play of the evening.

12:10 – Perhaps the Caps should decline these power play’s because the Canucks seem to win every loose puck battle when shorthanded??!! Vancouver had better chances to score there and had Christian Ehroff not fumbled the puck at one point the Canucks were going to have an odd man rush. Brutal power play, now 0 for 4, could end up being the difference between winning and losing tonight.

12:16 – Poti called for borderline cross check but Vancouver had the arrow. Caps shorthanded with 7:20 remaining in regulation.

12:19 – Poti argues with referees and gets two more minutes. Stupid move by a 10+ year veteran who should know to be more composed in a tight contest. The Canucks score on a Raymond rebound goal off of a Kesler shot.

12:21 – Semin then breaks in shorthanded and is pulled down. The referees amazingly give him a penalty shot. No joy as Luongo stops him and Caps still have 90 plus seconds to kill off the rest of Poti’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I thought that should not have been a penalty shot, and if I am Boudreau, I would have rather had the minor call, not a penalty shot.

12:25 – Caps kill off second Poti minor but only 4 minutes left. Ovechkin time?

12:28 – Poti’s bad night continues as he gives the puck away and the Canucks almost close this one out but Theo saves him. Semin has been moved up to play with Ovechkin and Backstrom with Caps down a goal.

12: 32 - Washington furiously attempts to tie this one up but fall short and Canucks win 3-2.

End of Game Analysis:

The puck really did not bounce the Caps way tonight but the primary reason they lost was their pathetic Friday night power play. Washington was 0 for 4 and barely put any pressure on Luongo and the Canucks. The Canucks were able to score once on the man advantage and they capitalized on the few Caps mistakes. That was a game the Caps deserved a point in but didn’t get it against a speedy, hard working, and talented team.

At the end of the game Boudreau put Morrison on defense to try and tie the game up using four forwards. As a result the total ice times for some of the defensemen were lower than normal: Erskine (16:08), Morrisonn (15:o9) and Alzner (15:17).

Ovechkin in 24:23 of ice time, was a -1 and only had 3 shots on goal and 2 hits.

Now things get even tougher on Washington as they head to Edmonton for the second half of back to back games. Washington has lost the last three times they have had to travel for a Saturday contest after playing on Friday night. The Caps fall to 21-8-6 overall and no longer lead the Eastern Conference or the National Hockey League in points (Pittsburgh and New Jersey have 49 points and lead the Caps by one).

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