Thursday, October 09, 2014

Great Start, No Finish

Capitals 1, Canadiens 2 SO (2-3)
Game Summary - Event Summary

Well, it started off good. The Washington Capitals could not have scripted a better first period to open their 40th anniversary season. Then the Canadiens had to spoil it. The Caps held the Habs to just two shots in the first period. 19 year old rookie Andre Burakovsky scored his first NHL goal in his first game to put the good guys up through the first intermission.

The Caps took advantage of a lack luster Montreal team who had played last night against the Maple Leafs. They were physical on the puck, forced the defense to turn over pucks, and were out playing/racing/hitting the Habs in almost every battle.

Brooks Orpik made quite the debut in a Caps sweater. He was a wrecking ball all night amassing 6 hits and they weren't little pops in the corner either. At least four of them were "Ah" inspiring, open ice knock downs. Clearly any animosity Caps fans had with him was washed away with every Hab fan that hit the deck.

Burakovsky made the hometown faithful jump to their feet with his first NHL goal. He had a large game drawing an early penalty. He used his speed effectively in the first period and it helped turn over a puck that Troy Brouwer picked up, found Burakovsky in the high slot, and the young centerman slapped one past Dustin Tokarski.

While the first period showed us what is possible, the rest of the game saw that early buzz die as the Caps couldn't seem to keep up with the physical pace. The Canadiens found their second wind and started to push back, forcing the Caps to play in their own end more. After a goal was taken away for goaltending interference, and one take back for not actually going in, the Habs finally found the back of the net half way through the third period as Tomas Plekanec found the back of the net.

Braden Holtby played solid. He would turn aside 24 shots and even come up with a couple of big glove saves in the shoot out. Holtby seemed the calm and aggressive goaltender that we fell in love with a couple of seasons ago. That is a good thing. With a better defensive crew in front of him, he should steal a game or two and nearly did tonight. 

Overtime saw a couple of close chances for the Caps but it would go to a shootout. The Caps could not keep pace with the skilled Habs and eventually Brendan Gallagher would bury the game winning shoot out goal and give the extra points to the visiting squad.

The Capitals, hoping to rekindle the success a season ago, could not get their power play to connect. They would go 0 for 5 with the extra man and it could have been a turning point in the game if they were able to score. The PK would stay perfect, killing off 5 of their own penalties.

There certainly positives to take from this game. Every thing they did in the first period was outstanding. But it needs to translate to goals. The team is still working on getting the system down. The home opener high led to a pretty good crash later as the Caps seemed to miss their scoring opportunities. They have to improve on what they showed in the first period.

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