The Streak Ends: Wings Edge Caps, 3-2

Zetterberg's Second Goal

Sigh. (Photo credit: Dave Reginek)

The Capitals came back twice against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night, but it would be a matter of inches that would stop them from extending their winning streak to ten games.

The Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring at 12:23 at in first period, firing a one-timer over Caps ‘keeper Michal Neuvirth’s shoulder. Washington would get it right back, however, as John Carlson’s blast from the point found twine just 33 seconds later. D.J. King got his second point of season on the play. I know! Woo!!! Less than two minutes after the Caps tally, Detroit would once again jump out in front as Valtteri Flippula clogged up the crease and deflected Brian Rafalski’s slapper past Neuvirth.

Alex Ovechkin would tie things up once again under six minutes into the middle frame. After taking a nifty backhand pass from Alexander Semin, Ovi raced up the middle going one-on-one with Brad Stuart before firing a wicked wrist shot through Stuart’s legs. Boom! 2-2.

Midway through the third period, Zetterberg would knot his second tally of the night. He lifted the puck over Neuvirth’s head from a sharp angle as the Czech netminder hugged the post. The Capitals attempted to rally late and came this close to doing so as Semin’s wrist shot hit just off target, ringing the crossbar with just 20 seconds remaining. Streak over. Wings edge Caps, 3-2.

  • You know that sound your car makes when you try to make a hard turn and you haven’t had an oil change in 20,000 miles? Well, that’s the noise we heard blaring through our tv speakers every time Michal Neuvirth moved in the crease during the first period. Still, after giving up two early goals, Neuvy settled down, stopping 24 of 25 shots in the last two stanzas. But it was one mistake that killed him.
  • That mistake of course was Henrik Zetterberg‘s game-winning power play goal. Zetterberg, who had just 2 goals in his previous 26 games, netted two tallies tonight. His first goal, a slap shot from the circles, was unstoppable; his second: improbable. After Neuvirth went down a wee bit too early, Zetterberg streaked towards the net and chucked a backhander off Neuvirth’s mask into the net. Simply, a soft goal. Granted, if you gave Zetterberg a hockey stick and a Panera Bread bag, he could rifle a baguette into it blind-folded. It’s okay, we don’t get that joke either.
  • Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson were a combined 12 of 38 in the faceoff circle tonight. Ouch.
  • Today, ESPN’s Scott Burnside named John Carlson the top rookie defenseman in the league. The Real American Hero proved why he was worthy of that accolade, scoring the Caps first goal just over half a minute after Detroit opened the game with their first tally. Carlson finished the night with five blocked shots and played excellent defensively.
  • Way back in 2007-08, D.J. King had a career-high 3 points. Don’t look now, but the un-swift-skating Saskatchewan winger has now two points after getting a secondary assist on Carlson’s rocket. Deep down, we really want to like Deejay. He’s a nice guy and from all accounts, his teammates absolutely adore him. And when he does get on the ice he seems to work his tush off. But when we see him clunking his skates into the ice, whiffing at passes and not being a physical presence, we long for Braden Holtby to replace him on the fourth line in his goalie gear and all.
  • Let’s flashback to the trade deadline, shall we? This is what George McPhee had to say about Dennis Wideman: “I called Dale [Hunter] this morning before we went forward on the deal to ask about this player,” McPhee said. “And he said great things about him, great competitor, real good person. And his final comment was, ‘He’ll block a shot with his face if he has to to win a game.'” Well, Wideman finally made good on Hunter’s promise, blocking a Detroit dump-in with his jaw and then for good measure taking a slapshot to the chest. Wideman didn’t miss a shift, played a game-high 27:54 and finished the night with six blocked shots.
  • Now that two games have passed, we feel comfortable saying this: Alex Semin appears absolutely lost without the injured Jason Arnott.
  • Alex Ovechkin is playing like the League MVP again. People know what’s coming, but they still can’t stop it. The Russian Machine used his patented use-the-defenseman-as-a-screen move and laser-beamed the puck past a helpless Jimmy Howard for his 29th goal of the year. Ovi also had four hits, seven shots and even won a faceoff for good measure.

  • Bruce Boudreau said after the game: “We have been getting the breaks in this situation for the last couple of weeks. Tonight, we didn’t get them.” Losing 3-2 against one of the most steady, professional teams in the National Hockey League is nothing to hang your head about — especially after playing two games in two nights while missing some of your best players.
Joe B. Suit of the Night

Joe B. Suit of the Night

All good things must come to an end. The Capitals didn’t get the bounces and Neuvirth let in a soft game-winning goal. Simple as that.

The road likely won’t get any easier for the Caps in the next week as they face two of the League’s hottest teams in the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. So who should Boudreau go with in net? Neuvirth, Holtby or possibly even Semyon Varlamov?

We’ll see you back here Friday night.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland.

  • Greg

    Holtby. Let him play until he loses.

  • K4

    I thought they looked tired. If the Caps who played Montreal had played last night, I think they might have done better.

    Gotta love Holmstrom camping out in front of Neuvy. I mean his face was between the 9 and 6 at one point and the puck luckily wound up under his pads.

    Is it me or are the non-calls on the rise? My Caps blinders enable me to see more against the Caps of course, but the refs seem to be in as much of a hurry to get to the playoffs as I am.

  • Avtopilot

    It’s good to get rid of a burden of a winning streak – no unnecessary extra-efforts from players to continue it, no additional motivation to opponents to break it.

    There are two things, that i didn’t like:
    – extra minutes for Ovi. Next time BB should have a remote somewhere in his pocket to switch off the Machine at the limit of 20min.
    Full tank of gas is required for the PO.
    – Rusty Neuvy. He was not 100% ready. If Varly is against NJ and looses, then Caps will go to PO with 3 equal goaltenders (young and not 100% ready). It’s about time to select #1 and #2.
    I’d say #1 = Varly (more PO experience), #2 Neuvy, #3 Holtby (great, but needs more experience). After this season Neuvy will be traded and Holtby will become #2 (and eventually #1 in case of Varly’s health issues). This scenario is valid if Varly is in net against NJ and wins.

    P.S. Jason Arnott is the difference between 0 and 2 points in 1-goal games. Please, clone him for the future usage.

  • boule

    Of course Neuvy wasn’t 100%… you can’t be until you get back in the game. Rust doesn’t come off by itself. As for trading him, I think he’s the best goalie we have! Nevermind The Brittle One, Neuvy has been consistent for the Caps all season. Holtby is a great goalie but is untested in any playoff situation, let alone NHL. Neuvy has a better grasp of elimination pressure from winning two Calder Cups.

    The value you get from Neuvy outweighs the value you get from Varly because he can’t stay healthy. I also can’t see Holtby being up here permanently this year unless he proves in training camp that he is able to control that first 5-10 minutes of excessively aggressive play. Those mistakes lead to soft goals, which happen to everyone – but they seem to happen to Holtby when he finds himself trying to be too aggressive against an opponent.

  • Katie

    I would have put in Neuvy in last night if I was the coach, too, mainly b/c Holtby had played the night before and they are the Red Wings. But Neuvy did look a bit rusty and Neuvy at his best would have stopped what turned out to be the game winning goal. Overall, considering we had just played the night before on the road, it was not a bad effort, but the Wings reminded us why they are they dynasty that they are. There passing ability never ceases to amaze me.

  • Rockin’ The Red in VA

    The goalie situation and descision that awaits BBBB is one that will not be easy. 3 young netminders who all want a chance to shine. . . .

    Here’s my take: If Varly is ready to go, give him the nod against NJ, that way he has at least one game to warm up, shake the rust off, whatever you wanna call it. As far as the Philly game goes it’s a coin toss, on any given night one of our three is capable of beating the Flyers, then from the Philly game out, I would use a rotation, which would be 3 games apiece. That give Irbe and Gabby a chance to see where each goalie stands. And you make the descision for the playoff starter when we see who we will play.

    But until then we await, right now it would be nice to see us get healthy!

    Hurry back: Backstrom, Arnott, Fehr and Erskine!

    Go Caps!

  • J.P.

    Eh, was gonna happen sooner or later. Thought the Caps played fairly well overall. No shame in losing to the Red Wings.
    Note to Sasha Minor: You ARE NOT Buzz Lightyear. You cannot stickhandle “To infinity and beyond” – please take the shot or pass the puck. Your attention to this detail is appreciated. On a related note, get well soon, Jason Arnott. Your linemates miss you.

  • JW90

    I’m really excited about Kuznetsov coming over, whenever he does come over, but this quote I saw on makes me worried…

    “Because I am not ready. Everyone including me, the coaches, the [Caps] ownership understand that I need to grow up to the NHL level, to mature physically. 82 games in a season is a serious [number]. . . Both our leagues – the KHL and the MHL [Russian junior league] are actively evolving and maybe in a year or two I may not even want to go to the NHL at all…”

    What does that part at the end mean… :s

  • BobbyG

    Please, yes let’s clone Jason Arnott to have a spare handy in case of injury. His positive impact on Semin cannot be ignored or dismissed. Sasha Minor IMO has come to depend on JA’s counsel and leadership. We need good Sasha to emerge in the playoffs.

    I’m not losing sleep over the end of the Caps 9-game win streak. This sort of thing becomes more of a burden and distraction IMO so on the positive side, I’m glad it’s behind them so they can focus on more important things. Things like the final 10 games of the season to set themselves up for the playoffs, to bond and mesh and reinforce the chemistry that has developed within this group. Most of all, I hope the injured and ailing players use the remaining time to rest and heal. The Caps will need all their horses running and galloping for the postseason.

    One more thing: the emergence of the MVP-like Ovie and his devastating shot has to be good news for the Caps and their fans as the regular season winds down with the playoffs on the near horizon.

  • Mary K

    So, I just wanted to say I was at this game, my first live game… yay! I was really impressed with the number of Caps jerseys that I saw in the stands. We had great seats to see Ovi’s goal, which was a highlight for me. Of course I would have preferred a win more.

    I don’t know if it happens in other cities when the Caps play, or if this is just indicative of Detroit fans, but in the 3rd period, the fans booed every single time Ovi touched the puck. Maybe I’m just naive and this happens to other popular players as well, but it struck me as a real lack of class from the Wings fans. Oh, and the fans really didn’t make any noise at all until the 3rd period. At least from what I observe on TV, the Caps fans can get loud at any time in the game!

  • BobbyG

    @Mary K: I hope you enjoyed the game despite the Wings fans booing Ovie. I don’t know why such things happen. Why can’t a team’s fans appreciate and enjoy great opposition players? IMO you can root for a team and still acknowledge terrific players on the other side. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    BTW, I hope someday to be able to see Ovie play in person. And if he scores a goal AND the Caps win it would be an added bonus.

  • Hi! Haha amazing pictures from a amazing party! I have a question for you… What is the names of the songs in this!? (with Evgeny Kuznetsov…)