Sorry, we thought the photo should be extra big tonight. The Washington Capitals took too long to suit up for tonight’s appointment with the Carolina Hurricanes. A sleepy first period left the boys from Chinatown with a two-point deficit. The Caps woke up and delivered captivating hockey for the rest of regulation and overtime, but it wasn’t enough to best their division rivals.
For the second time in as many nights, the Capitals could not seal the deal in an hour of regulation hockey or the five bonus minutes. But unlike last night, the Russian Alexes did not go 2 for 2, and Bruce Boudreau’s hunch did not pay off. When Mike Green‘s shot sailed high over the Carolina net, it was game over. Despite their best efforts the Caps fall to the Canes 3-2 in the shootout.
Bullets, shall We?
- The less said about the first period the better. Two goals came in the first ten minutes, but neither belonged to the team that actually has a post season ahead of them. Despite having only one game in four previous nights, the Caps looked tired. Given the performance that would follow, we can say with certanty that the team’s weakness was mental, not physical.
- Semyon Varlamov let two past him in the first period, but he recovered with dignity. For the rest of the game, we saw the Varlamov of old: surprise attacks, splits, and saves improbable. It’s almost unfair that Varlamov’s first game in a week coincided with some questionable defensive work.
- Speaking of, my heart was not warmed to welcome John Erskine and Tyler Sloan back to the flock. I’d grant that Shaone Morrisonn deserved a break after the ultraviolence he provided last night and Jeff Schultz needing a recharge, but their replacements weren’t up to snuff. Sloan and Erskine were crucial ingredients in Carolina’s early two-goal lead.
- Alexander Ovechkin is going to have kick it up a notch if he wants the “Rocket” Richard Trophy. He was inert tonight, while Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby are at his flanks with 45 goals each.
- Captain America! John Carlson‘s days of post-ringing are over. J.C. scoring his golden goal against Manny Legace was a delight to everyone who’s been rooting for him since the World Junior Champs. Welcome to the big leagues, dude! You’ll fit in fine.
- In an uncharacteristic struggle, Tomas Fleischmann struggled with his puck handling. We’re going to chalk this up to maybe bad luck or how about playing 2 games in 2 nights, and hope no late-season funk is setting in for Flash.
- Meanwhile, the New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils in another shootout. Both the Devils and the Caps gained a point tonight, so the Caps still have some work to do to get the conference title sewn up.
- And how could we forget? The Capitals’ one point earned for the overtime loss tonight sets a new franchise record for team points in a season with 109, but really, no one is much in the mood for celebrating. We have bigger goals in mind.
Washington has two days off before facing the Calgary Flames, who are still fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot with the Detroit Red Wings. Only eight games are left to decide the winners of Prez, the Hart, the Richard, and a miscellany of other metals. So if you were expecting a doleful trot to the post-season, think again.