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It was a tale of two teams for the Washington Capitals tonight. The one with Alex Ovechkin in the line up and the one with out. In the first half of the game it seemed the Caps were lackluster and content, but when Ovechkin left the ice with 13:50 left in the second period the team seemed to rally around the star's absence. But it would be penalty woes that once again shoot the Caps in the foot as they can't seem to figure out how to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets and fall in overtime for a second straight game 5-4.
Alex Ovechkin took a tumble when he ran into Raffe Torres landing awkwardly and hard to the ice. When he got up, he favored his left shoulder and motioned with his hands as if to say, "I can't play" as he skated to the bench. Just 6:10 seconds into the second frame, Ovechkin would leave the game and not return. He is listed day-to-day with an upper body injury, his status will be re-evaluated on Tuesday when the team practices next.
The Capitals were down 2-1 to the Blue Jackets at that point, but the injury was a wake up call for the rest of the team. It seemed every line worked a little bit harder and the result was two goals back-to-back for Brooks Laich and the Caps would take the lead 3-2.
Jose Theodore played well the entire game, but he lost his stick on Torres' wrap around attempt and the Blue Jackets were able to tie the game again. But the Caps persistent hard work seemed to keep the Jackets pinned in their own zone and the result was a goal by the recently quarantined H1N1 flu survivor Quintin Laing.
Two bad penalties late in the game and in overtime, however, did the Caps in. Mike Knuble was called for a slash that resulted in a 6 on 4 situation. Just as the Caps were coming back full strength, the Jackets scored. Then, in overtime, Brian Potheir ran interference on a surging forward and Columbus takes the game as R.J. Umberger gets two whacks at the puck in front of the net to beat Theodore and the Caps.
With Ovechkin out of the line up, the Capitals seemed to put their hard hats on. Every line, not just one or two, had a great shift in the second half of that game. When one line had finished, the next would pick up where the other left off. The Caps seemed to be working harder and the result was two quick goals by Laich, who looked really good playing with Brendan Morrison and Knuble.
The Nick Backstrom, Alex Semin and Thomas Fleischmann line had a few good chances, but with Ovi out of the line up, the Jackets treated that line as the Caps number one line. Mike Green extended his point streak now to 9 games which is a career high for him, even when he broke the record of consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman.
The Caps earn a point for taking the game into overtime, but the Caps had the lead twice and let it slip away. It was the second straight game the Caps lost in the overtime period. The Caps will have some time to collect themselves before Wednesday's game in New Jersey.
- Ovechkin and Jason Chimera are not the best of friends. Ovi pasted Chimera along the boards and in the first period. Chimera didn't like that and gave a few choice words to Ovechkin after the hit. Then Chimera gave Ovi a shove as he was going to the bench for a change between whistles. That set off a firestorm and a scrum ensued. There is some speculation that Ovi might have been hurt there. Ovechkin would leave the ice in the second favoring his left shoulder. He would only have one shot on net and two minor penalties for his efforts.
- It was a game of weird tumbles. Milan Jurcina took a bad fall in the corner with Kristian Huselius. Both players would lay on the ice for some time before skating off under their own power. Both returned to make their next shifts. Whether it is a reflection on the ice conditions or not, players didn't seem to have a good footing on the Verizon Center floor.
- The Caps did a better job in the face off circle in recent games. They were 53% in draws. Backstrom, who has been struggling in that department, was 10 of 19 draws. He scored the first goal on a beautiful passing play that involved Fleishmann passing it to Backstrom, Backstrom throwing a behind the back pass to Semin, Semin passing it to Fleischmann and Fleischmann finding Backstrom again for the goal. Highlight reel stuff. That line accounted for 14 shots on net.
- Rick Nash loves playing the Capitals. He had another highlight reel goal when he walked around Green to score the Jackets' first goal. Green gave him the outside, not realizing that Nash has some wheels. Nash took it and deked around Theodore for his team's first goal.