Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Special Teams None Too Special For Caps

Capitals 3, Panthers 4 OT
Game Summary

The Capitals would pull a point out of this game, but it would be the wrong way to get a point against a Southeast Division foe. After taking some ill advised penalties and giving the Panthers a pair of 5 on 3 opportunities, the Capitals would not be able to make a comeback. The fall in overtime to the Florida Panthers 4-3.

The Capitals, who have been relatively disciplined in their play to this point in the season, took too many penalties against a hard working team in the Panthers who have found sudden confidence against a team that they were unable to even win a game a season ago. It would start with a Mike Knuble penalty for interference and then Nick Backstrom would be called for boarding at the same time kicking off a full two minute 5 on 3 for the Panthers.

The penalty killers for the Capitals did their best, but a harder working Panthers team was able to capitalize on their power play opportunity as well as score a goal on the momentum gained by the power play to put the Caps in a two goal hole early. Florida would be 3 for six on their power play (that had been struggling up to that point) including two goals on two chances 5 on 3 and the game winner in overtime was a power play tally.

In contrast, Washington's power play continues to struggle going 0 for five with the extra man advantage. That was including a golden opportunity with the game tied for them to get the go ahead goal. But they floundered the chance, often turning the puck over before they could even enter the zone. Bruce Boudreau would even move Alex Ovechkin around on the PP to try to gain some kind of spark for the forward and the extra man advantage to convert just once.

Ovechkin would start in his usual position on the point  with Mike Green his partner. But in the third, Boudreau would move him up to wing letting John Carlson see some time on the power play opposite of Green and Brooks Laich would be the odd forward out from the first power play unit.

(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Not all of this game was bad news for the Caps. They did mount an impressive comeback down 3-0. Marcus Johansson was a big part of that rally as he scored on a pretty give and go with Laich to cut the lead to just two goals. His shot would beat Tomas Vokoun five hole and trickle into the net.

Mike Knuble would get the Caps a goal closer when buried a pretty feed from Ovechkin up over the glove of Vokoun. Again it would be Johansson giving life to a near dead Capital offense, tying the goal up at 3 after Matt Hendricks threw the puck on net. MJ90 would trickle one in through Vokoun. Johansson nearly had the hat trick when he deflected a picture perfect pass in front, but Vokoun's glove was in the right spot at the right time to make the save, denying the rookie his first career hat trick.

Michal Neuvirth played a as solid of a game as he could with the amount of penalties his team took in this game. he came up huge in the second and third periods to allow the Caps to comeback. He had good rebound control and relied on his quick reflexes to shut down the hard working Panthers sending pucks to the net. He also got some help in the blocked shot category as the Caps helped their rookie goaltender out stepping in front of 19 shots. But in the end it would not be enough.

Green would take a hooking call after the Panthers had sustained pressure in the overtime period. The Caps would fail to even get a shot on net in the extra period. In fact the Caps have not had a shot on net in the last 2 overtimes they have played. They do take home a standing point that pulls them dead even with tomorrow night's opponents.

The Caps have to have a better self control as they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night. It is their chance to take over the lead to the Southeast Division. A title they have struggle to maintain this season as Tampa and Atlanta pressure for that top spot.

Caps Notes:
  • Brian Willsie's return is due to Alex Semin's hip injury. Semin is listed day-to-day. Willsie played well getting on the score sheet with an assist and would draw a penalty with his veteran savy.
  • The last time the Capitals came back from a 3-0 deficit was last season in the NBC game of the week featuring the Caps versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Nick Backstrom scored the game winner in overtime to complete the comeback win. There would be no such ending tonight however.
  • The Capitals have won 12 games when they give up the first goal (12-11-3). That is three more wins than any other team in the league. 
  • Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green were chosen for NHL's All Star Game. Snubbed were Alex Semin (might not be a bad thing considering his injury) and struggling Nick Bacstrom. John Carlson was snubbed as well for the rookies.

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