The Washington Capitals played a pretty good road game for 50 minutes but then the Caps started taking lazy penalties in the offensive zone and the New Jersey Devils made them pay, scoring two goals on the power play in the last 10 minutes to win, 3-2. The Capitals, who played without injured superstar Alexander Ovechkin, are now 1-4 in their career when the Great #8 misses the contest.
Semyon Varlamov (29 saves) got the start in goal and he played pretty well in his first loss of the season against five wins. The first goal he allowed to Brian Rolston was a deflection off of Mike Green in front. #52 put his leg down in the slot to block a centering pass and the puck ricocheted off his shin pad and into the net. So once again a wrong decision to leave their skates cost a Washington defender. The Devils other two tallies, as mentioned above, came on the power play. The first was on the rush and Niclas Bergfors just ripped a puck top shelf over Varly’s glove while the final tally, that made it 3-1, came on a Bergfors deflection from up in the slot with a Devil forward in front of the net. I’m not sure Varlamov could be totally faulted on any of the three Devils tallies and his rebound control was good. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau, after the game, called the last two New Jersey goals “iffy” but I think when he watches the replays he will see a great shot and then a tipped goal.
The Caps played a very good 1st period outshooting the Devils 11-6 and grabbed a 1-0 lead when Mathieu Perreault, playing in his first NHL game, made a beautiful backhanded saucer pass to Tyler Sloan and #89 roofed it past future Hall of Fame goalie, Martin Brodeur (26 saves), for his first goal of the season. Perrault, who I have always been impressed with when I have seen him play, added another assist on Tomas Fleischmann’s top shelf goal with 1:37 remaining but the bad penalties, four of them in the third period, ultimately sunk Washington.
Here are some quick thoughts and analysis on this one:
I don’t know how many times the “bad or lazy penalty” words can be used to describe some of the plays this team makes and one of the usual suspects, Alexander Semin, took three of them. Clearly Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy with #28 because after his third infraction he was not put on the ice at the end of the game.
“If you go behind the net and you put your stick on the guy you are going to get a penalty. Brendan Morrison has been in the league 10 years and he knows that as does Semin. [Those penalties] are dumb” said Boudreau.
Ovechkin was interviewed by Comcast’s Joe Beninati after the 2nd period. He said he was feeling good and that he could be back tomorrow, Friday, or one or two weeks. So basically nobody knows, other than Alex and perhaps some Caps medical personnel, how close the Great #8 is to returning to the ice.
Brodeur was his usual outstanding self in net for the Devils. #30 robbed Green with a beautiful glove save in the second period and he made a sparkling stop on Semin by stacking the pads after #28 skillfully navigated through the New Jersey defense. The Devils are now 9-4 overall and Brodeur is a huge reason why.
Perreault was all over the ice for Washington and really played well in his debut. His size hurt him in the corner one time when Bryce Salvador physically took him off of the puck but otherwise the small forward used his speed and hockey smarts to make several plays tonight. GM George McPhee and Boudreau certainly had to be pleased by what they saw from #85 tonight.
The Caps were outshot 32-28 but won the face-off battle, 34-30. Nicklas Backstrom was 15-9 to lead Washington in that department. New Jersey went 2 for 5 on the power play while Washington was held without a goal on their only attempt.
The Caps drop to 8-3-4 and have a home and home series with Florida that starts on Friday in Fort Lauderdale and finishes on Saturday at the Verizon Center.