There was only one mood in the Washington Capitals' locker room: irked. The Caps were irked they got off to a slow start, irked they once again let power play opportunities go awry, and irked that the Montreal Canadiens only needed two goals scored in the first ten minutes of the game to decide game 5 and force a game 6 back in Montreal.
"We're not getting 20 guys playing," An irked head coach Bruce Boudreau said in his press conference. "We're getting thirteen and fourteen guys every night rather than every one playing. Tonight we had 5 or 6 passengers again."
Alex Ovechkin was the only goal scorer in the game. His tally was of the garbage goal variety as John Carlson's point shot bounced off Jaroslav Halak and Mike Knuble in front and Ovi dumped in the loose change. It would be the only bright spot in the game for the Capitals who came out flat to start.
"It's not like we didn't address the start," an irritated Bredan Morrison said to reporters. "We knew they were going to come out and [try to] put our backs to the wall and they out played us in the first twenty minutes. We made too many glaring mistakes that ended up in our net."
Right off the face off, Montreal had a scoring chance. Just nine seconds in Brian Gionta gets the Habs off to a great start, nearly scoring and having Caps' goaltender Semyon Varlamov make the save early. Then in the shift after next, 1:30 into the game, the Canadiens would get a puck past Washington's netminder. Mike Cammalleri had the honors.
"We wanted to win the game," Ovechkin said of the slow start. "We start[ed] pretty badly right away, and they get opportunity to score goals in the first ten seconds. We [can't] start like this."
It would take just six minutes later for the Habs to score again. It would be the eventual game winner as the Capitals' defense bit on the low forward Gionta and Travis Moen was alone in front of the net. Moen made a move and put the backhander past Varly and the Habs had the lead from there.
Montreal would come back and play tough defense against the Caps. Falling back into their trap, the Habs' defense did a great job of getting sticks into passing lanes and jumping on loose pucks. The Caps' high octane offense was forced to take outside shots to no avail. Halak seemed to gobble up shots and avoid any reckless rebounds.
"We missed some very good looks," Boudreau said of his team's lack of offense. "When you have players that are suppose to be scorers and they miss really good looks, it's like a checker not doing his job in my mind. They got to score those goals."
The Capitals sudden loss in offense was helped along also by a struggling power play. The best power play in the league is one of the worst in the playoffs, just one goal in 24 chances. Montreal's penalty killing is not that special either, they are clogging up passing lanes and playing aggressive on the player who is bobbling the puck.
"Our power play is not helping us," centerman Brendan Morrison said. "It is not helping us right now. They're doing a good job pressuring us. We talk about adjustments, but it hasn't translated onto the ice yet. If we want to win this series, it has to help us win a game. So far it hasn't done that."
The game was laden with missed calls on both side of the puck. Varlamov played the puck outside the trapezoid area but the refs missed it. Eric Belanger took a stick up high by Andrei Markov and ended up losing a tooth, but the officials seemed to miss it. They also called a slash and a too many men penalty on Montreal, but only awarded the later to the Capitals. Instead of a 5 on 3, it was a 5 on 4.
It seemed the Caps couldn't catch a break when they needed it either. The officials didn't miss the mix up with Eric Fehr and Varlamov as the pulled the goaltender, leading to a too many men call on the Caps which thwarted any chance of a comeback.
"If we score goals we feel good," Ovi said. "But we didn't score."
The series goes back to Montreal, where the Capitals are hoping to wrap things up to avoid a 4th straight series that has gone to seven games. If the Caps wish to end things quickly, they will have to come out with a much better effort early. They will also have to crash to the net as well.
Boudreau made things clear that a shake up is likely with his lines. Most likely Tomas Fleischmann whose play has been stagnate in this series will be a healthy scratch, but more players could be watching from the press box at Bell Centre.
When asked if he was going to shake up his lines, Boudreau responed, "I will think very deeply about it in the next few days."
- David Steckel has been a healthy scratch for three straight games after starting in the first two. Shaone Morrisonn also has an undisclosed injury keeping him from being in the line up, he has missed two straight games. Tyler Sloan replaced Mo on the back end and finished the night with two blocked shots and a minus one rating.
- Alex Semin leads the league in shots with 29. He has zero goals.
- Former Capital Donald Brashear was at the game, a guest of Alex Ovechkin. A brief montage of number 87 flashed on the big screen and he got a standing ovation from the crowd.
- In response to the Habs' fans booing the American National Anthem in Montreal, Caps fans cheered when " O' Canada" was sung at Verizon Center.