Capitals 3, Stars 4 OT/SO (0-2)
With two fist pumped and a look to the rafters as if to say "It's about time," Alex Ovechkin shook the slump he was in off with a snap of a stick past Stars' goaltender Marty Turco. But the second period power play goal would not stand as the Caps lost their two goal lead in the final period and the Stars score three to take their own lead. The Capitals would tie it up with a beauty of shot from Ovi, but they would end up losing it in the shootout to the Dallas Stars 4-3.
"I think the whole team had a hiccup in the third period," Bruce Boudreau said.
The Caps 13 home game win streak came to an abrupt end as they unraveled in the third period. Before then, they were riding high. The home team was dominating with 42 shots on net through the first two periods, a franchise record. The took a two goal lead into the third. Things were looking all rosy for the Capitals.
Tom Poti opened the scoring in the first off of a smart pass by Dave Steckel who saw his defenseman breaking for the net. Poti put it past Turco for his fourth goal of the year. Then the Stars started taking penalties. They would only take three minors in the second period, even giving the Caps some 5 on 3 time. Ovechkin would make them pay with his first goal since his hat trick against the Penguins on February 7th.
The only reason the Caps were held to just two goals in the first two periods was the play of Marty Turco. He was able to thwart the Caps 5 on 3 advantage and came up with a few good saves. "He was on top of his game tonight," Boudreau said.
But the Dallas Stars came out with a better work effort in the third period. A stupid hooking call penalty against Brooks Laich would give the Stars some life. Brad Richards shot a laser past Semyon Varlamov who had looked sharp up until then. Matt Bradley took a holding call and the Stars again scored evaporating the Capitals lead on a power play goal by Trevor Daley. They would take the lead when rookie James Neal snapped a shot through Varlamov's five hole.
"We were due to get a [power play] against us," Mike Knuble said. "We weren't able to kill them off. That is obvious what got them back in the game."
The Caps would tie up the game on a beautiful deke and shot in one by Ovechkin. His second goal of the game would pull him up to a tie with Sidney Crosby for the league's scoring title. It would force the game into overtime, where the Caps nearly ended it there. But Turco came up with the saves.
In the shoot out, the only Capital able to score was Nick Backstrom. He had a pretty deke to the back hand that had Turco cursing at the ice. But Ovechkin (14.3% on shootouts this season) and Alex Semin (20% on shootouts this season) could not beat Turco. Brad Richards scored and Loui Eriksson would score for Dallas giving them the extra point.
The Caps laid down in the third and the Stars fought back by outworking them. Normally when the Caps have the lead going into the third, it is a sure win. They are 28-0-3 when they have the lead going into the final frame. But they just got out worked and nearly let the Stars get away with three unanswered goals by the Stars.
"We had the chance to bury them, put [ourselves] up three nothing," Poti said. "We couldn't get that done and ultimately that is why we lost."
This can not happen so late in the season. It has been a problem for the Caps in the past where they were unable to keep a lead late in the game. It is a wake up call for the Caps as this month gets tougher, not easier. They have to be able to put teams away, especially when they show such dominance in the first two periods as they did tonight.
Washington will play Carolina Wednesday night.