Tomas Vokoun has been very good this season and he has pretty much single handidly won some games for the Capitals early on. Tonight he basically lost the game for the Caps on Long Island letting in three soft tallies in a 5-3 loss to the Islanders. The game winner came from PA Parenteau (1 goal, two assists) with 1:46 to go as #29 allowed a point shot from former Capital Milan Jurcina to trickle through his pads and #15 tapped it home. It was a save Vokoun had to make and it cost Washington at least a point. The Capitals fall to 9-3 and lost to the Islanders in regulation for the first time since October of 2007.
Here are the highlights and analysis of a defeat that snaps the Caps 12 game regulation unbeaten streak (11-0-1) against the four time Stanley Cup Champion franchise:
– The Caps played a really solid first period and got goals from Joel Ward and Alexander Ovechkin en route to a 2-0 lead prompting Islander fans to call for goalie Rick Dipietro (25 saves) to be yanked from the cage. But Washington left their skating legs in the locker room for the middle frame and New York fired 15 shots on Vokoun. However, there weren’t too many quality ones and #29 gave up a terrible rebound on a Frans Nielsen shot and John Carlson didn’t do a good job of tying up #51, who put a weak backhander through the legs of the Caps cageminder to make it 2-1. Then with 3:05 left in the period Brian Rolston, who does have one of the hardest shots in the NHL, rifled one by Vokoun from the blueline. That made it 2-2 and gave the Isles momentum heading into the last 20 minutes.
– Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau shuffled his lines tonight after the success in Carolina on Friday night. Mathieu Perreault was inserted for Cody Eakin and the coach also broke up his very effective third line of Ward, Brooks Laich, and Jason Chimera. By the final frame Boudreau put that line back together and the Caps carried the opening five minutes of the third period before a Jeff Schultz turnover led to a Steve Staios point shot that was not handled cleanly by Vokoun. Matt Martin, who provided the initial screen and was not cleared out by Dennis Wideman (-4) then batted it home at 6:28. Ovechkin, who was all over the ice, drew a penalty on Staois and Laich tied it up a couple minutes later on the power play, with the Gr8 cutting across the crease, setting the stage for the tough loss.
– This was the first time all season that the Caps had to play back to back games and it really showed in the second period. The Islanders, who had lost six games in a row, started winning the battles to the loose pucks while Washington didn’t move their feet and did too much reaching with their sticks. In addition, the Capitals weren’t nearly as aggressive at getting to the front of the opponents net as they had done in their first 11 games.
– Backstrom (2 assists) and Ovechkin were the best Caps tonight and the Gr8 could’ve had more goals. On one sequence in the opening frame he totally undressed Mark Eaton but the puck rolled slightly on him and his shot in tight went out of play on DiPietro. #19 is now 3rd in the NHL in scoring with 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) in 12 games.
– In closing, despite the fact that the Caps lost their legs for stretches of this contest, they still should’ve won the game if their goaltender had turned in an average performance. It was not Vokoun’s night and he’s never won at Nassau Coliseum despite having a very good goals against average against the Islanders overall coming into this one. Bad nights are going to happen, we’ve seen some poor play from the 35 year old Czech goalie in spurts already, but for the most part he has been superb so the team nor Vokoun shouldn’t let one terrible performance upset the apple cart. After all, it is only November 5th, not April or May 5th.
Notes: Perreault was -3 and didn’t have his normal jump in this game…Alexander Semin had a good first period then faded into the abyss after that. Washington needs to find a way to get that guy going…the faceoff battle was tied at 25 each. Laich went 8-4 to lead the Caps…the Capitals went 1 for 3 officially on the power play but they only had 1:07 of man advantage time so that stat is misleading (a major boarding penalty to Parenteau combined with an Ovechkin rough and Ward trip caused that situation)…New York went 0 for 2 on the power play…the Caps next game is Tuesday at the Verizon Center against the Dallas Stars.