Saturday, October 24, 2009

Caps Squeak Off Long Island

Capitals 3, Islanders 2 OT
Scoresheet - Post - Times

It may have not gone according to plan, but the Washington Capitals were able to grab 4 points on their quick two game road trip. The Caps rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the New York Islanders just a minute into the overtime period. The win wasn't a perfect game for the Caps as they were badly outworked through the first half of the game. Their power play has also suffered during this two game stint as it went 0 for 4 on the night.

"In the first period we were definitely out-worked and out-played and out-hustled," Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau said.

"The game in Atlanta, I thought we played well in the first half and then we let them back into it. And tonight I don’t think we played well in the first half and played well the second half," Brooks Laich said of their effort in the last two games. "Winning you are always happy. But we are not satisfied where our game is at. And we will be better."

Mike Green finally broke out of whatever funk he was in to score in the first half of the third period and get the helper on the game winner in overtime. Kieth Aucoin was able to tie the game just seven minutes later to get the Caps into overtime. From there Green sparked the game winning play by doing what he did best, using his speed to gain the zone. He threw the puck to the slot to a waiting Brooks Laich who squeezed the game winner under Dwayne Roloson's pads.

The Caps found themselves struggling early to get any kind of spark going as the Islanders played a solid defensive game against them. Jose Theodore, who returned to the ice after back spasms kept him from starting the last three games, played an inspired game stopping 28 shots and keeping the team within striking range.

But things seemed to turn for the Caps after a knee on knee hit. Nate Thompson took out Green in the second period by swiping his knee with the Caps' defender. The hit seemed to be a wake up call for the Caps, and to Green in particular.

"Maybe the hit woke him up a little bit, made him a little angry," Laich said of Green's performance in the second half of the game. "But the goal he scored was just a big time goal."

"[Green] got mad and he said “To heck with this” and he played the way he can," Boudreau quipped about his defenseman.

The Capitals power play through the last two games is 0 for 11 and has now allowed two short handed goals against. That is Caps power play zero, opponent's penalty kill 2. Not a especially good place for a power play of the Caps' caliber to be. There seems to be a lack of movement and an aggressive penalty kills knocks the them off kilter. Their pitiful power play will continue to hinder this team if they can not start scoring on opportunities their opponents give them.

Alex Ovechkin nearly spent a second game off the scoresheet, until his helper on Aucoin's game tying goal. He seemed to be struggling through the game to get shots through the Islander's defenders who blocked 25 Capitals' shots on the night. Ovi had 5 of his shots blocked on the night and only registered a pair of shots on net.

Bottom line, the Caps come away with 2 points. But their overall effort in the last two games has been not something the Caps are particularly proud of. Nothing will help the Caps more than some focus and effort on their part.

"[We are] happy with the four pionts," Laich summed up. "[But,] I think we still have a lot of things to work on."

Caps Notes:
  • Just when you think Don Cherry has run out of hot air, he comes back at Ovi over his "slew foot" hit at the end of the Atlanta game:
    "Ovechkin - I love you as a guy, I love you as a player, you play my type of game. You take no prisoners, that's fine. But you're running out of lives, I'll tell you right now. Watch what you've done. Too many times have you hit guys from behind. You won't fight so guys right now have you on a list. I'm telling you, you better be very careful right now. You're going to be very, very sorry some day because somebody is going to cut you in half. I hope it doesn't happen because he's an exciting player. ... When he gets it, it's going to be a goodie."
    Perhaps in response, Ovi was first to give Islander Thompson a good shove after his knee on knee hit on Green.
  • Jeff Schultz's goal in the Atlanta game maybe taken away after video shows the shot being deflected off of Mike Knuble's stick. Even if Schultz gets an assist on the play, he now has 4 points in the last two games with an assist on tonight's game tying goal.
  • Boudreau did some line shifting through out the game. Often putting Chris Clark on the top line with Nick Backstrom and Ovechkin and keeping the tandem of Brendan Morrison and Knuble together. The line shifting mostly had to do with poor play from some players and exceptional play from others. He put Aucoin on as a winger for his play making ability and it paid off with the game tying goal.
  • The face off dot was not a fun place to be for the Capitals. Backstrom was only 28% on draws and Dave Steckel was worse at only 28%. The Islander second goal was a direct result of Backstrom losing the face off.

    "I was just praying for no more face offs in our own zone," Boudreau said of the face off fiasco. "We got terribly out played in the face off circle tonight."

  • Backstrom was also the only Capital on the ice for both goals against and was not on the ice for any of the Caps' goals. He was listed as having a -2 rating. Which is incorrect, because a plus or minus would not be given to any players for short-handed goals just as they are not given on power play goals.

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