Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Caps Fall Apart

Capitals 2, Senators 3
Game Summary - Event Summary

It started well enough. The Washington Capitals were playing with a bit of confidence off their home winner against Buffalo. They would jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. But it would not last, and the Ottawa Senators would defeat the Capitals by scoring three unanswered goals, including a late power play tally. The Caps would blow their lead and lose the game 3-2.

Troy Brouwer scored on a nice little dish from Wotjek Wolski. His back hand saucer pass found Brouwer cutting to the front of the net and number 20 put it on his back hand to beat Craig Anderson stick side. Matt Hendricks scored just under five minutes later as the power play just finished for the Capitals. The offense took adavantage of the brief scramble for position by Ottawa as they returned to full strength. John Erskine kept the puck alive at the blue line and found Jay Beagle with a nifty pass. Beagle shot it at the net and it Hendricks tipped it in.

Given about a five minute span from the end of the second period and the beginning of the first, the Capitals allowed the Senators to climb back into the game. Ottawa scored late in the second period after some good offensive zone pressure by the Caps, but a sharp break out by the Sens and some poor back checking got Ottawa on the board. Followed by a quick goal early in the third off the face off where it looked like no one was quite ready for Milan Michalek's backhander that beat an unsuspecting Neuvirth.

The killer was a tough call late in the third period by the officials. Joel Ward took a swipe at a bouncing puck to shoot the biscuit deep. The follow through hit an Ottawa defender in the face and Ward was called for the high stick penalty. A tough call for the Capitals who would eventually allow the game winner power play goal in off a point shot by Sergei Gonchar deflected in front by a Caps player.

The Caps made a last ditch effort to tie the game and pulled Neuvirth with over a minute left. Mike Ribeiro scooped up the loose puck after some break downs by Ottawa in their own zone. Ribeiro was all alone on Anderson when he shot it right into the big goaltenders chest. It was the Capitals last opportunity to tie the game, snuffed out by Ottawa's net minder. 

What looked like a great game played by the Capitals was spoiled by some lapses in system late in the second period and for moments in the third. Just when they were getting the hang of it, the Capitals stopped moving their feet. Because of that, they had to retreat to a defensive shell. Instead of pressing the play, they were on their heels and Ottawa gained slow momentum from that.

The Capitals power play showed signs of more movement yet. It showed they are getting more confident in the power play system and they are showing better signs of creativity. On the last Caps' PP, they found success finding the open man only to see Alex Ovechkin pull a one timer and Brouwer break a stick on an open shot. The power play shows potential and with a little time, the players will adapt and play off one another.

The penalty kill just came up one goal short. It just happened to be the game winner.

There are plenty of silver linings to this tale of woe for the Capitals. If nothing else, games like these are sometimes the best teachers to correct problems. It is still an early season and it will be a work in progress for the Capitals. Games like this shows the potential of what the Caps can become, and shows the hardship when they get away from the basics of moving your feet, playing smart and playing as a team.

Caps Notes:
  • A good number of shots on net from the Caps originated at the blue line. Defenseman Mike Green led all Capitals with 5 shots on net, followed by John Carlson with 4.
  • John Erskine led all skaters with 8 hits.
  • Michal Neuvirth was 4-0-0 against the Senators coming into tonight's game with a 1.56 goals against average and a .945 save percentage in five career games. He played solid again tonight, but the team in front of him let him down with a few breakdowns and mental lapses.

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