Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lightning Strikes Twice

Capitals 2, Lightning 3 OT (Tampa leads 2-0)
Game Summary

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals just kissed their home ice advantage good bye. Again the Caps could not come up with the first goal and found them selves trailing or tied in this series thus far. Vincent Lecavalier would be the hero scoring the early first period goal on the power play then ending the game just over six minutes into overtime. The Caps are left scratching their heads and looking to find a way to win on the road down two games to none after this loss 3-2.

Alex Ovechkin shook the series goal monkey on his back by scoring a dramatic, game tying goal in the final two minutes of the game. Brooks Laich would also score a grinder's goal in the second. But in the end it was a series of bad luck plays and a loss of focus in over time that would spell their doom.

The Caps power play is a worthless thing. It is not even worth analyzing and it is starting to lose games for them. The Lightning gave the Capitals three straight penalties. The Capitals would flounder on all three, wasting all five opportunities in the game. Then Alex Ovechkin took a high sticking call and Lecavalier scored on a lightning shot that at first looked like it rang off the post. But the puck did enter the net and the Caps would have to come from behind besides having a great start.

The Bolts looked to settle into their one-three-one and for the most part, it did its job. But the Caps did a fantastic job of staying patient and kept shooting on Dwayne Roloson. Eventually it led to a offensive chance off of a turn over just inside the Caps defensive blue line. Martin St. Louis failed to get the puck in deep and the Caps were able to transition to offense with numbers. Nick Backstrom, still struggling to find a goal this post season took a shot on net but it was blocked by a Bolt defender. The shot bounced up and Laich was able to direct it toward the net and past Roloson.

A bit of bad luck for the Capitals when St. Louis directed a pass to Lecavalier and Mike Green's skate was in the way. The puck was redirected in behind Michal Neuvirth. The Caps were once again chasing the leading Lightning and it looked like it was going to be a repeat performance from game one.

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
But the Bolts iced the puck with 1:46 left in the third and then called a time out. The Caps pulled Neuvirth and the early pull payed off when just 1:08 left on the clock, Ovechkin found the back of the net. It happened when Victor Hedman failed to clear the puck as his stick broke and he took the wrong handed stick from a forward. The puck worked around behind the net where Jason Arnott, nearly invisible in game one, shuffled the puck to the front of the net to find the wide open Ovi.

In overtime, it seemed the Caps were dominating play again, until a bad shift change lead to disaster. Ovechkin nearly had the game winning assist when he fed the slot as he attacked the zone. But Marcus Johansson for some reason let up skating and missed what would have been a wide open shot on net, just inches from his stick blade.

What would result would be a horrendous shift change when the Caps dumped the puck in deep. Scott Hannan would go off leaving the right side of the ice wide open. Lighting defenseman Randy Jones (playing for injured Pavel Kubina) shot the puck from behind his goal line to Teddy Percell on the Caps blue line. Percell sucked Green out of the play and left a wide open Lecavalier in front of the net alone to take on Neuvirth. He shot it over the Caps' goaltender's out stretched glove and just like that, the Bolts hold a two game advantage in the series.

The Caps PK was sufficient, but once again allowed a goal on the power play for a second straight game and gave the Bolts the early advantage. The power play, as previously mentioned, was worthless. It allowed the Lightning to play a tight checking game with out the fear of retribution because their penalty killers were getting the job done.

Now Washington finds themselves down two games to none, and need to win on the road to even extend the series to make it back to Verizon Center. Just a split would have been a big win for the Lightning taking the series back to Tampa, but a two game lead puts the Capitals in desperation mode. With their backs to the wall, it will be a must win situation for them for both games on the road. A tough place to be.

Caps notes:
  • Brooks Laich scored his first goal of the playoffs and also recorded his 5th assist of the post season. 
  • Mike Knuble made his return to the line up and Matt Hendricks sat this game out. Knuble had two shots on net in 18:12 of ice time.
  • The Capitals have not allowed a first period goal in all five games against the Rangers, but have allowed two first period goals in two straight in this series against the Lightning. The Caps have lost both games.

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