Joel Ward screens Ondrej Pavelec (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals summoned the Winnipeg Jets to end their residency at Verizon Center. It was supposed to be a pitched battle for alphabetical inferiority, another explosive game that Dale Hunter would compare to the playoffs. Instead we got a flurry of neutral-zone skirmishes and perfect moments by both goaltenders for 50 minutes and sheer insanity for 10.
The game’s first period was sleepy and scoreless, the second the same. But 10 minutes into the third, Alex Ovechkin sent a puck acutely netward during 5-on-4 play. Ovechkin hooked up Semin for another PP tally a few minutes later. Somebody on the other team scored, and we didn’t care. Then Dustin Byfuglien got a weird bounce to knot the game 12 seconds later. Overtime came and went. Jets beat Caps 3-2 (Shootout)
How tight was this game? Let’s ask Ferris.
- Zounds, this was not the playoff-type game we were promised. This was an often-sleepy game that we might’ve expected from two expansion teams meeting in October rather than rivals jostling for the division lead in February. Still, the Capitals tapped into bursts of intensity before kinda falling apart late in the third.
- But Tomas Vokoun was exemplary each time his team demanded it of him… mostly. When defensive mistakes and broken breakouts mounted up in the third period, Vokes was a sieve. Unless a sieve is a bad thing, in which case he was most definitely NOT a sieve.
- Listen. A sieve is a thing that lets some things through and other things not through. It’s an awful way to describe a bad goalie. It’s an awful to describe anything. See? Aren’t jokes so much funnier once they’re explained?!
- So Vokoun was perfect for like 117 minutes. And another 60 minutes a few games back. But then he gives up 2 goals in 12 seconds, one of which I could have stopped while sick with the flu. This is why we can’t have nice things.
- At least the Caps’ power play was stunning. The first opportunity was full of smart positioning with a couple of doozies on Pavelec’s net without result. Alex Ovechkin rang iron on that one, but scored on the next– quickly. Ovi hooked up his buddy Alex Semin for the game’s second PP goal. The Capitals probably have the best home power play in the NHL right now.
- But Dustin Byfuglien, what the hell, dude? A nonchalant dump-in from center ice takes a weird bounce and beats Vokoun. What a scam.
- Brooks Laich played another game, but was a tad bit ginger on his knee, which is apparently not 100%. Brooks recorded only 7:25 TOI, so perhaps Brooks would benefit from a game off? Put another way, wouldn’t another player benefit from a game on?
- No blame on BL21 for that sucky penalty. Brooks didn’t seem to know his stick had been broken just before he played the puck.
- The Capitals squeaked by with a possession win against a tea, whose offense has disintegrated since the new year. But more importantly: the Caps cracked 30 shots again– for the second time in three games (and second time in the last 27 games as well). Somebody call Angela Bassett, this team may finally be getting its groove back.
- The Jets committed two penalties in the last 20 seconds of overtime. Nothing you can do about that, I guess, but it feels like you can get away with murder that late in the game.
The Florida Panthers will probably win tonight as well, so the Caps lost some important ground in the playoff race. Looks like a virtual tie for the division lead, which due to the tiebreaker rule means we’re back in 9th place. Dammit.
The Caps let a good lead slip and their goalie’s shutout vanish. Unacceptable.
And despite all of the good signs, I recommend restraint on the team’s overall prospects until they can look as good at even strength as they do when a man up.
Off to MSG on Sunday to play the league’s best team, supposedly. And look: we didn’t even mention Knuble once!