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.
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.