Colin Greening celebrates his goal; Varly is not pleased. (Photo credit: Phillip MacCallum)
Well, where do even begin? Poor effort, non-existent offense, a goalie playing in his first game since the 20th of February and some, let’s just say, interesting officiating. Those four things combined make the blueprint for how you find a way to lose to the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Nothing of interest happened in the first period, but there was another meaningless D.J. King fight just under three minutes into the game.
The Senators’ Colin Greening opening the scoring at 13:25 in the second frame. After a scramble in front of the net, Greening appeared to kick not only the puck, but Capitals ‘keeper Semyon Varlamov’s whole pad past the goal-line. The big wigs in Toronto took a look at it, but the play stood. 1-0 Sens.
Both teams registered eight shots on goal in the second period — with the Capitals having the best chance on an Alexander Semin breakaway — yet no one would tally.
Just over two minutes into the third stanza, Erik Condra pushed the Senators’ lead to two. After a Karl Alzner giveaway, Condra picked up Milan Michalek’s backhand no-look feed and wristed it pass Varlamov.
The real action, however, would happen just under 13 minutes into the period when Matt Bradley laid-out Patrick Wiercioch at the goal-line. Though the hit appeared to be a legal shoulder to chest hit, the Sens and referees took exception. First Ottawa’s Zach Smith jumped Bradley, forcing him to duel. Smith got the win in the ’bout, but correctly received an instigator penalty for his instigating. However, the refs called Bradley boarding, one thing the hit almost certainly was not as Bradley and Wiercioch were 12 feet from the dashers when the hit occurred. That would be it. Ho-hum. Sens blank Caps, 2-0.
- Bruce Boudreau coached his 300th career NHL game Friday night. Not only does he have the highest winning percentage amongst all active bench bosses, he has also accumulated the most victories in league history over his first 300 games. The top five includes Boudreau (184), Mike Keenan (183), Toe Blake (176), Don Cherry (176) and Dave Tippett (172).
- Despite netting the only goals of the night, the Senators only out-chanced the Capitals by one (16-15). Of the Caps scoring chances, a third of them came on their three power plays, though they obviously failed to convert on them.
- Brooks Laich was stellar, racking up four individual scoring chances while also being on the ice for seven of the Capitals ten even-strength ones. Laich also registered seven shots on goal, three hits and a blocked shot.
- D.J. King and Francis Lessard must be bros, because all they did in their fight was hug it out. Get a room.
- Early in the first period, Matt Hendricks absorbed a careless high-stick to the right side of the head from David Hale. A clear penalty, Hendricks fell to the ice clutching his noggin’. The hit opened up a cut and Hale — aware of his transgression — immediately skated to the penalty box to do his time. That’s when the craziness got underway. The four officials met by the box before suddenly Hale was asked to leave the sin bin. Hendricks, when interviewed after the game, explained that one on-ice officials initially called a four-minute double minor for high sticking. However, the other three officials overruled the penalty and said that he was kicked with a skate. O RLY? That might be one of the most bizarre sequences we’ve ever seen. Hendricks later took another high-stick, this time from Condra. The Capitals were actually awarded a power play that time. The officials weren’t the reason why the Caps lost, but they sure did made us want to throw stuff at the television.
- That reminds us… every time Ian heard Condra’s name mentioned during the telecast, all he could think of was this.
- Matt Bradley tried his best to awake the Capitals in the third period by knocking Patrick Wiercioch on his tush, engaging Zach Smith in a fight, and bleeding… everywhere. Despite swarming the Ottawa net on their next few shifts, the Capitals couldn’t capitalize on the momentum Bradley created and were shutout for the tenth time this season. RMNB reader Kirsten O. reports that this was the first time in four fights where Brads has shed red. At least Marcus Johansson has a stitches buddy now!
- Alex Semin continued his confounding behavior, taking an offensive zone stick penalty and then almost scoring on a breakaway upon leaving the box. I know we say this every game, but really, come back soon Mr. Arnott.
- Marcus Johansson went one for ten in the faceoff dot. Yikes.
- In the Caps’ past 11 games without Alex Ovechkin, the club has gone 8-2-1 and averaged 4.5 goals per game. Well, I guess we all knew that wasn’t going to last forever.
- It’s hard to blame Semyon Varlamov for Friday’s loss. As I stated earlier, he appeared to have been interfered with on one goal and at least partially screened on another. That’s on top of the fact that the Russian didn’t originally expect to start tonight, his first game in 34 days. Al Koken reports that Michal Neuvirth is ill, but not injured. Koken also says that Braden Holtby has been called and is on his way up to meet the team, though he has not officially been called-up to the Capitals. As if Washington’s goalie situation could get any less clear.
Joe B.‘s Suit of the Night needs to be burned, sacrificed to the hockey gods and never spoken of again.
Yes, Friday night was a lack-luster performance at the least, but the Caps (and their fans) have to block it out and move on to the next one. Speaking of which, Washington will get that chance to forget about it in less than 24 hours as they take on the Canadiens in the last game of the Caps’ six game road trip.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.