Michal Neuvirth was superb in goal tonight for the Washington Capitals against the New York Islanders, but it just wasn’t good enough, again.
The Capitals generated six power play chances but couldn’t get a biscuit by Evgeni Nabokov (22 saves) and lost a tough one at the Verizon Center, 1-0.
Only a screened point shot by Andrew MacDonald got by Neuvy at 2:16 of the third period and that was good enough for New York to get a win that the Capitals desperately needed. This defeat drops the Capitals to 25-23-9 and they are three points out of playoff position with just 25 games to go.
If you are a glass half full guy, which you might have to be these days to prevent yourself from stressing out watching this team, here are the positives from this game:
– Neuvirth was outstanding stopping 27 of 28 shots, including a penalty shot by Michael Grabner when it was 1-0 New York. Neuvy gave the Caps every chance in the world to win on Tuesday. Great performance. Goaltending is not the problem with this club, despite what others may think.
– The Caps did enough good things to draw six penalties. When you do that, you should win the game.
– Washington won the face off battle, 27-22.
– The Caps killed off all five Islanders power plays, including 12 seconds of 5 on 3 time.
– John Carlson played 29:13, had 3 shots on net, and four blocked shots.
– Tom Wilson had a great neutral zone hit in the 3rd period that led to some 5 on 5 pressure.
– The line of Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, and Joel Ward had a great first period but unfortunately F16’s rebound try from in close on a 2 on 1 with Chimera hit the post.
After that, there wasn’t a lot of things that stood out positively. Washington was sloppy and played a sleepy game (the Islanders had the puck more, as evidenced by the 61-49 shot attempt advantage for New York). I am not sure if it was the ice or something else but the Capitals had a lack of energy and intensity in a game they really needed to win? It’s very disappointing.
Tyson Strachan had a rough 11:24. He screened Neuvirth on the only goal and he had an untimely first period fight with Matt Martin when Washington’s grind line of 25-16-42 were dominating play in the offensive zone. You have to pick your spots better.
Dmitry Orlov was a target all night by the Islanders as they ran him at nearly every turn. He was hit by Martin badly from behind in the middle frame but the zebras only called #17 for two minutes when it easily could’ve been a major. Orlov also took a big hit from Cal Clutterbuck in period three but if 81 had gotten rid of the puck much sooner, he doesn’t have to get plastered into the boards. Again, you have to be smarter on the ice.
Overall, this was a tough one to watch and lose. You can’t go 0 for 6 on the power play against the 30th ranked PK unit in the league. Doing that costs you hockey games, and possibly a playoff spot too.
Next up for the Caps are the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at the Verizon Center. The Jets are 9-2 since Paul Maurice took over as their new coach.