Photo credit: Greg Fiume
This final game of the homestand, a division face-off between the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning held the highest of stakes. A win would keep the Capitals competitive in the playoff race. A loss would make things bleak. How did it go down?
Well, Keith Aucoin scored the game’s first goal, a very lucky deflection off Karl Alzner’s shot. Ryan Malone evened it up with a power-play skate deflection. John Carlson delivered the own-goal for Purcell to give Tampa a lead going into the third.
With less than five minutes to go, Marcus Johansson nabbed a bad clear and beat the rookie goaltender. Tie game. Into overtime, which was OV time. Caps beat Bolts 3-2.
- Tomas Vokoun returned to play after a longish service by Neuvirth. Vokoun spent much of the game on his knees– scrambling for pucks that his team couldn’t clear. Despite the disadvantage, Vokoun was excellent through and through and had a perfect game at even strength.
- I sang Mathieu Perreault’s praises for a responsible shift last game. Tonight’s lazy high-sticking penalty was the exact opposite. Rather than move his feet… like at all.. Perry kept still as a statue and whacked a Bolt up high. Just a dumb move.
- The Capitals had very little offense in the second period and went almost 17 minutes without a shot on goal. That’s just mystifying. A loss in this game means the team’s postseason chances go from meh to nu-uh, and it seemed like Caps didn’t care through the that entire middle frame. At least they woke up in the third period.
- In the interest of fair coverage, the Lightning got just 3 shots on goal in the third. But they’re trap-playing fiends and we spit at them.
- Despite having only 3 shots in the second period, the Caps still reached 32 on the game. They’ve been under 30 just twice in the last 8 games.
- Mike Green sent an elbow into the head of Brett Connolly in the second. Connolly was vulnerable, he didn’t return to the game (CORRECTION: Yeah, he did.), the head was the principal point of contact, and Green has been suspended for this before. It’s a Shanahan superfecta. Suspension bets, anyone? I’m gonna say… 3 games– would have been more, but Connolly was hunched over.
- Ryan Malone‘s power play goal should be mortifying, but I’m not sure the Caps are capable of shame anymore. Malone was left utterly unchallenged up in Vokoun’s paint. A more aggressive penalty kill would have made this a shut out.
- Keith Aucoin has points in two straight games, but he was hardly involved in either. Tonight it was a lucky bounce that beat the goalie. It was the kind of “just put it on net and hope” goals that you see a lot in the AHL. Which is where he Aucoin should be. #FREEKNUBLE.
- Thank goodness for Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov. Those sneaky little Russians and their overtime winner kept this team’s hopes alive and gave me a newfound respect for humanity. BRB. I’m gonna go ahead and un-drown that bag full of kittens.
- That makes 12 OVOTGWGs (Ovechkin overtime game-winning goals).
- Featuring Tom Bosley as the voice of Martin St. Louis.
The Capitals of the second period… what can we even say? They were lazy and disorganized. They were disinterested– with Alex Semin skating laps around the Tampa net without ever mustering a shot on goal. They were dirty– both Wideman’s and Green’s hits were unacceptable (the latter much worse than the former). That’s not a team I want to write about. That’s not a team I want to be a fan of. (That’s not a preposition I want to end a sentence with.)
The Caps were down and out with twenty minutes left, but the kind of hockey they played in third was the kind that saves seasons and wins cups. This team isn’t quite ready for the Cup yet, but we know we can never count them out.
Still, the standings are sobering. It’ll be an uphill battle.
We’re scared, honestly. It’s a grave time in Caps town. It’ll be hard to cheer us up right —
Oh. Okay. That did it.