Balls. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

It’s been awhile since you’ve added a tally to your wins list, eh?

The Washington Capitals hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning to another night of hockey in the old Verizon Center barn. And it pretty much went just like the first one.

During a late first-period powerplay, Vincent Lecavalier deflated the crowd with a high dart to the back of the net. Brooks Laich crashed the net to tie it up, but Martin St. Louis’s deflection off Mike Green’s skate gave Tampa a 2-1 lead. With Neuvirth pulled, the Capitals fought the Battle of Roloson’s Crease to victory– with Captain Alex Ovechkin pitching in the puck from zero distance. In the biggest overtime of the season, the Caps started strong. But Teddy Purcell fed Vinny Lecavalier a puck right in front of Michal Neuvirth. Game over. Bolts beat Caps 3-2 (OT), but here’s the real kick in the teeth:

Bolts lead the series 2-0.

  • The Capitals have their backs against the wall. They have lost both games at home, squandering whatever advantage the regular season created. These back-to-back games in Florida could not come with higher stakes.
  • Regulation scoring chances tell the story: tied at 4 in the first, 8-0 Caps in the second, 2-5 in the third.
  • You can’t win a hockey game if you miss on six power play opportunities. You can’t win a Stanley Cup if you miss on eleven. But that’s the count through two games in this series. Ovechkin is still on the point, still fetching pucks. Is that really how you want to use the best offensive weapon in the NHL?
  • Shots? 37-23. The Lightning have been outshot in every game of the playoffs, but they keep on winning. A testament to Dwayne Roloson?
  • Humbly, I submit no. Just like they did with Jaroslav Halak, the Capitals are sending the pucks right to where the goalie is. Rolo is not that fast laterally and not that strong up high. If a handful of shots went a few inches higher or wider, these games would be blowouts. Instead, the 86-year old looks like Mecha-Roy.
  • Brooks Laich was the player most able to counter the Lightning’s defense. He generated 4 scoring chances, including his own goal.
  • Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin had one measly chance until that almost-pivotal tying goal.
  • Tampa’s dwarven thunder, Martin St. Louis, had a two-point night (goal and assist). He also took a nasty high sticking (no call) that loosened the same teeth first sundered in the Pittsburgh series. Also, I wrote a song about him during the second intermission.
  • Jeff Schultz was on-ice for every Tampa goal. He’s outmatched, out of position, and gangly beyond reason. How’s Dennis Wideman feeling?
  • The second-period Capitals are composed and forceful. They suffocated the Bolts’ offense. But when they went a goal down midway through the third, they played like decapitated chickens.
  • Was the OTGWG offsides? Put on your tin foil hats, rules lawyers, and get ready to make your appeal to the dungeon master.

There’s a bunch of dire stats about how often teams with 2-0 leads win series. You’ve probably seen them; we’re not gonna repeat them. Here’s the truth: the Caps need to take both games in Tampa or else they’re just prolonging the inevitable.

It looks grim. The Lightning’s victories have been thanks to strategic superiority, or at least a superior effort in sticking to the coach’s strategy. The Capitals stars disappear for long stretches.

But they’ve still got heroes on the ice. Check out those wizardly shifts by Boyd Gordon, Matt Bradley, and Marco Sturm. No players rendered Roloson dyspeptic better than the “energy” line. If the rest of the squad can play with the same offensive fervor that this trio has, there is still hope.

So here’s the party line: just come back to us, boys. Steal one or two games on the road, and come back to Washington in style. No one said the road to the Cup was gonna be easy, and now they need to prove their mettle. In Florida. Which is America’s dong.

Still believe. Go Caps. Eff terrorists.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.

  • Mike

    It would help if they actually used the power play chances they were given, and learn how to make a line change without giving up an odd man rush. *sigh* now Monday is going to be even worse than normal.

  • 28ISGREAT

    So I watched the game at a friend’s place in VA (but live in DC) and my drive back (12th St NW) takes me right through the heart of Caps Nation. I decided I would drive around the Verizon Center blocks honking the “Lets Go Caps” chant to rally the troops (and assuage my own depression).

    I’m happy to report that in my unscientific rallying of the troops 70% of Caps fans (I only honked at pedestrians in official Caps gear) responded to my honks. (and to those other 30% I say “SHAME ON YOU!”)

    I admit, I was hoping for more – but out of 200+ honks, 70% ain’t bad! I wouldn’t quite say we’re the “Hockey Capital”, but its getting there.

    Its time to rally the troops boys and girls!!!! We take 2 in Tampa and this last stretch is a wash! Here’s hoping!

    LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    I didn’t wanna put this in the main article, but really:

    FUCK THIS GUY

  • BobbyG

    Killing Osama bin Laden is the only thing that makes tonight bearable.

    I’m stunned, truly and absolutely stunned, by the Caps loss tonight. I was convinced they would put Game 1 behind them and have a monster outing tonight. I was WRONG, sadly I admit it. But when a team goes 0 for 6 on the power play for a total of 0 for 11 so far in the series, it’s very very difficult to win. I don’t know how the Caps can pull a rabbit out of a hat to win 4 of the next 5 games. But unless they do, it’s going to be early tee times for them and a continuation of the angst, disappointment, and frustration for their fans.

  • Dark Stranger

    The next question is….. Will Boudreau keep his job after the playoffs or will they go with someone else? Also, will they trade one or more of the core members of the team in hopes of changing their fortunes?

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja

    Well … say, my two kids and my husband surprised me with tickets for all of us to tonight’s game. We set out with a lot of great enthusiasm. If you heard some dirt bag yelling “Hit them” or “Hit him” over and over again, we had the pleasure of sitting right in front of him. He was convinced for most of period three and all of the overtime that it was the lack of hits that caused the loss. He spent a good deal of energy and airspace trying to get his message across to the team from the 400 level.

    Me … I watched them give up over and over again. Roloson may be a good goalie. But he’s far from great. He gives up really juicy rebounds … a lot of them. But we’ve got no one there to to pick them up and score with them. Crashing the net isn’t going to work with him, but sending in a trailer after the initial shooter will.

    Second problem is that dump n chase only works when you follow up with the chase portion of that formula. I saw a TON of dumping but very very little chasing tonight this lead to about a bazillion turnovers and a lot of extra skating which in turn lead to some very tired hockey players who didn’t have a lot to show for themselves. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must’ve been for the players.

    Last, there was a LOT of skating in great big circles tonight. That meant missed chance and not much skating. I knew the game was lost when they came out for overtime and skated hard for about 3 minutes. Then the big circles started. About a minute later TBL scored.

  • Mily

    I tuned in to watch, and I was just utterly frustrated that nothing was going in.
    The Caps were forechecking really well but their shots didn’t convert.

    And here, we have another 2 day wait.

  • Pat

    I blame whomever thought it would be a good idea to paint the jinxiest painting in history.

  • JJR

    You just lost another game, what happened? Sniff. Let’s discuss some more. No Stanley Cups ever? Whine. Whine. You lose then lose and you maybe win and might lose. Whine wa wa boo hoo. Next thing you know you’ll lose again and run and embrace Dan Snyder.

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  • Greg

    JJR, I’m guessing your a fan of a team already eliminated, otherwise you would be on your teams sites rooting for them.

    And that’s funny and pathetic at the same time.

    There’s a lot to be happy about with this game (outplayed Tampa 90% of the game, really got burned by bad luck combined with some bonehead plays). Let’s take 3 and 4, bring it home to a tie.

  • Avtopilot

    effing nice.

    that’s why you don’t post any SC winning paintings in your blog. Just not to have this thought “what if it really junxed the caps” hunting you.

    Now do something to antijinx them, please :-\

  • K4

    Line changes have KILLED them these 2 games. Like was said above, how about making a line change w/out fiving up an odd man rush? Too many men penalty last series (in OT) and then this? Inexcusable in the playoffs.

    Mike Green was set to “coast” mode on the 2nd goal. If he didn’t deflect it in, Vinny would have had buried it. I nominate Mike Green for the focus of anger so far in these playoffs. He seems to have reverted to his habit of letting his partner dig the puck out of the corners (skating away from the puck when he could make a play -and take a hit). Easy for me to say, I will never have to absorb a hit from 200+ lbs of forecheck, but is it easier for Schultz, Hannan, Erskine or whomever else is out there with him?

    How many exit passes missed sticks by maybe another stick length? No other excuses for the losses this season, can only blame themselves.

  • Em

    LOL. Between “dwarven thunder” and “…Florida. Which is America’s dong.”, I finally laughed about tonight’s loss. Thanks, RMNB.

    K4 – Greenie had a tough game, but I don’t blame him for the loss….though he hasn’t been his *new* self during this series. Time to grab the sac, boys.

  • Mike C

    Sigh. The Caps season and my heart just went THUD. Bin Ladens revenge from beyond the grave. That guy sucks even buried at sea.

  • K4

    EM: I don’t mean to blame Green for the loss. I’d just like to see him play the puck in his own corner rather than go to the near post. He’s been doing that for years and it’s aggravating.

    It’s also aggravating that the Caps showed that they can absolutely DOMINATE this team, but TB showed they can sit and wait for a mistake and take advantage.

    After all the non-calls against us (and there were many), I don’t think we can expect too many favorable calls in Fla.

  • GreenGuy

    I feel like Ovechkin on the point for the power plays just has not worked all year. And its really tough to watch TB’s power play where they are moving the puck so nicely – then watch the Caps PP do the dump and chase, running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

    I’m really down on Schultz too – that big slow bastard. And Green? WTF?

    What a shitty Monday.

  • Owen

    This sucks. I thought we had it after OV’s GTG. And I KNEW we had it when we started OT with a bang. Then something happened (I honestly don’t know, and I’m not watching the tape to find out) and all of a sudden it looked like we were playing on our heels.

    Still, down, but not out. Boston was down 2-0 going in to Montreal last round and won. It’s an uphill battle but I have faith we can pull it off.

  • JH

    Shut up you fatalistic fucking fucks! Nattering nabobs of negativism! Grumpy McGrumpsters!

    Two of Tampa’s goals were lucky, fluky rebounds. Yeah, our PP sucks. We’re not perfect but in general we were the better team on the ice. We are going to win this series.

    HAVE SOME FAITH YOU DOWNER CAPS FANS! Shut up about firing Boudreau and all that. Tampa is a damn good and dangerous team.

    GO CAPS!

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  • Peter Hassett

    Hahaha JH, The language was a bit much, but I like the sentiment!