Dennis Wideman swims with the sharks. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Washington Capitals had a good bit of time off before heading to California to face the San Jose Sharks. In that time, Mike Green continued his rehabilitation, Alex Semin returned to game-shape, and Nicky Backstrom’s head kept him out of action. No one was expecting an easy opener to the road trip, but this was ridiculous.

The back of Tomas Vokoun’s skate knocked in the first goal of the night, but Jason Demers got credit for it. Dennis Wideman crashed the net on the power play to tie it back up. Brent Burns converted a late second period power play with the help of a few screens. Joel Ward scored his first goal since November 5th to tie it up, but Patrick Marleau re-established the lead just 16 seconds later. Marc-Edouard Vlasic put the Caps in a pickle with a 4-on-4 goal, then Torrey Mitchell got the empty netter. Sharks beat Caps 5-2.

  • Mike Green had 2 shots on goal and a plus-3 Corsi rating in the game’s first half, but took no shifts in the back half. Total ice time: 7:11. According to JP, Andrew Desjardins hit MG52 a few minutes before he headed for the locker room. After his injury-riddled 2011, we’re too timid to comment on any possible setback for Green. Anxious…
    [UPDATE 1:30 am: Via the Whyno, here’s Coach Hunter: “It got a little tight, so we’re being careful with him. And we took him and pulled him out.”]
  • This was the Joe Pavelski / Joe Thornton / Patrick Marleau show. San Jose’s big guns greatly outranked the Caps D-men assigned to them, namely John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Karlzner just weren’t up to the task tonight, surrendering goals at even strength and PK and allowing a bevy of shots from San Jose’s best players.  An uncharacteristic stinker from one of the NHL’s best shutdown D pairings.
  • Alex Ovechkin took exception to Brad Winchester charging both him and Alex Semin (and targeting the head), so Ovi offered a crosscheck and tackle for recompense. It’s good to see the Caps sticking up for one another, but the goal on the ensuing 4-on-4 put the game out of reach.
  • Doug Murray beat the hell out of the Caps, particularly old fogeys like Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Halpern. He recorded 4 hits in the first period and then vanished.
  • The second period opened with a skirmish in Tomas Vokoun‘s neighborhood, which the other Caps players just seemed to allow. Dave Nichols of District Sports Page wrote about what is expected of skaters when their goalie is under attack, but we’re just not seeing that toughness from our team lately.
  • Thanks to the two braves souls who accepted our first intermission challenge and took a pickle back shot.
  • Dennis Wideman‘s PP goals gives him a 3-game goal streak with 5 points in that window, his best streak in the season if you consider that mean old Brooksy stole his hat trick on December 9.
  • It’s not Caps news, but you should check out SHOE’s recap of Hershey’s 5-2 win over the Phantoms. Kyle has some cool fight photos from the Bear’s revenge win following the Outdoor Classic.

Joe B suit of the night

The Capitals played a tough road game in a barn that has given them nothing but trouble for time immemorial. Without Nick Backstrom and Mike Green, a win was too much to ask. The Karlzner duo got outplayed as bad (minus-19 Corsi for Alzner, minus-13 for Carlson) as we’ve seen this season, and Alex Ovechkin’s streak ended. It seemed like every Caps chance led inevitably to a Sharks chance at the other end of the ice.

But it’s not all bad.

The Caps improved their road flagging power play, Joel Ward snapped a way too long goal drought, and Dennis Wideman continued his offensive dominance.

Plus, we saw a DALE shirt on CSN and our pal @stardotgeek spotted an Ovechtrick:

See you guys on Monday. It’s another late one in LA, and the Caps really need to take 2 points to make this a worthwhile road trip.

  • Peter

    Lemme add a little bit more here. Karlzner had VERY tough minutes. They were both above 24 minutes and took 14-15 starts in the defensive zone. Compare that to Dmitry Orlov, who had 12 minutes and only 4 starts in the DZ. Are the Caps protecting Orlov? If so, how much is it hurting others?

  • anon

    beagle hasn’t helped since coming back either

  • Guest

    Caps need to learn how to win on the road.  Let’s give em this one because they have won a few straight, but they better take a breather and beat the Kings

  • Fitlanbox

    The kid is a rookie.  Karlzner is our best pairing.  Those minutes are tough, but with a rookie paired with a clearly injured green, what do you expect?  Would you rather have given most of those starts to Hamrlik and Wideman?  I wouldn’t.   Since for god knows what reason we ran with 6 D even though Green was clearly still injured, wasn’t much choice.

  • Peter

    Well, since Karlzner gave up 2 goals against and allowed the lion’s share of shots against, they were manifestly overwhelmed. I don’t care who takes Orlov’s shifts– but we have evidence that having 27/74 take all of it cost us this game.

  • This is the second game in a row during which one of our top guys was targeted and wasn’t made to pay.  Ovi went after Winchester and I am glad he did.  However, I am not happy that he had to be the one to do it.  In my mind, its ok to go after another team’s big guns.    However, those actions need to have a cost.  It shouldn’t have been the case that Semin gets hit, and then Ovi takes himself off the ice doing someone else’s dirty work.  Talk about a Win-Win for the Sharks!  That worked out well for them, didn’t it?  Props to Ovi for doing what he did; too bad he had to be the one to do it.

    As far as what happened to Nicky the other night, that guy should have been pummeled close to death for that.  Take the elbow/cheap shot out of it and I’m fine with trying to crush someone.  I’m even more fine with making the guy pay a heavy price.

    This is sad.