Sunday, March 08, 2009

Fourth Straight Loss At Home

Capitals 3, Penguins 4 OT/SO
Scoresheet - Post - Times

This could have been a tale of two teams heading in two different directions. The Pittsburgh Penguins, needing to win to stay in the race for the playoffs, and the Washington Capitals, who have dropped three straight at home and have hit a lull, played in what many think could be a key first round match up in the post season. If they do the Penguins would have the momentum as Sid Crosby scored the only shoot out goal to give them the edge over the Caps 4-3.

But would they really? The Penguins at one point held a 3-1 lead into the third period only to lose it in the opening two minutes. It had looked like Alex Semin was going to be the only goal scorer all game and the Penguins pulled ahead in the second with some interesting chemistry suddenly with newly acquired Bill Guerin and Crosby. But Alex Ovechkin scored a power play goal and Brooks Laich followed that up with a break away goal just 49 seconds later.

The roughing filled game seemed to play right into the hands of the Penguins who looked to get under the skin of the Caps. The linesmen were kept pretty busy through out the game having to separate people, but the center of the cheap shots seemed to center around the Caps' star players. Chris Kunitz, a late season acquisition for the Penguins took a pretty good whack at Mike Green's hands as the horn sounded to finish regulation. No penalty was assessed on the play.

While the Penguins might have come away with two points, the Capitals did play much better then they have in the previous three games. The Caps lack of scoring is a troubling thing, as the Caps have had a hard time finding the net. In their last three games they have been outscored by their opponents 11-5 on home ice.

The bottom line comes down to chemistry. Chemistry that seemed to be rock solid at the beginning of the year, but is struggling now. Finding that right line up, tweaking and re-tweaking, has been the job of head coach Bruce Boudreau who see signs of that chemistry starting to come back.

Puckhead player of the game has to be Alex Semin, who has played as well as he could in the past four games, and was at times brilliant in this game. He had a goal and was one of only two Capitals who were a +1 ( Green was the other). He also had 6 take aways.

The Caps have to realize that teams near the playoff bubble will be the toughest teams they face here on out. While they only grabbed a point, they are still a quite aways from Boston for Conference lead. Plus, They can't fall very far behind or Florida, who is making a serious push could catch them. The Caps hit the road this week and must come away with points.

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