Stamkos signs autographs on the red carpet pregame. Also: WTF? (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
The Washington Capitals began the final week of their (regular) season with a road game with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That team who swept the Caps out of the playoffs last year, looked like that same team from last May.
Alex Semin missed an empty net, but scored on a lovely one-timer just seconds later. Teddy Purcell tied it up with a powerplay tally, and then Tom Pyatt deflected a Hedman shot in Neuvy’s net just half a minute later. Jason Chimera crashed the net and tied it up with three minutes left, but Steven Stamkos gave the Bolts the lead again with 63 seconds left. Then Stamkos got the empty netter and that was that. Bolts beat Caps 4-2.
- Again, the Capitals blow a lead. Again, the Capitals surrender goals in spurts. Again, the Capitals fail to close out a period strongly. File under: offseason priority.
- Brooks Laich‘s leg absorbed Vincent Lecavalier‘s shot in the second period and hobbled off the ice looking unhappy. Some thought the worst about the injury, but we already knew that Brooks is made of sterner stuff. He returned a few minutes later and was all, “yeah.. and!?”
- Alex Semin has committed penalties in consecutive games for the first time since mid-December. Last game’s “roughing” (scare quotes deliberate) was a farce, and Monday’s hook was an acceptable response to Stamkos’ net rush– even if his turnover led to that chance. His goal followed a tragic empty net miss that had us doing this:
- Last May, Mike Knuble said this about the Lightning: “They’re uncanny when they want to get a goal. It’s like they just snap their fingers.” Tonight, they did more of the same, and it’s like all those old feelings came rushing back. The fleeting leads squelched in an instant, the anxiety, the sweep. The only difference is that these Lightning aren’t even in the playoffs this year. (Also Knuble is getting like 10 minutes less ice per game.)
- Jason Chimera took offense to a hit from Ryan Malone in the first period. The two dropped gloves, but the bout was a decisive win for Malone, who downed Chimera with a quick shot and declined to hit him further. It was more a “scrap” than a fight, and the guy on our team left with his tail between his legs.
- But not for too long. With just three minutes left in the game, Chimera tied the game with his 20th goal of the campaign. The net: it was crashed. But let’s share some of that credit with Mike Green, who looked as confident as ever carrying the puck deep into enemy territory.
- Steven Stamkos scored his 57th and 58th of the year– the game winner and empty netter. The former was made possible by planting himself right in front of the goal, where Alex Ovechkin should be every second of every day.
- Dwayne Roloson is just so…. he’s such a …. he– ughh. OUEBGOWEUG
Happy retirement, you big jerk.
“Playoff hockey” doesn’t mean giving up two goals in 30 seconds. Firing under 30 shots when your team’s postseason life depends on it isn’t befitting a cup-contending team (not that this is one of those).
For too long the Capitals didn’t show a fraction of the hunger that this game– and this league– requires. Against a predictable trap team, they were sloppy in neutral ice. Against a wobbly goalie they were net-crashing-averse. Against a daunting challenge, they were insufficient.
With this loss, the Caps can probably kiss the division title goodbye. Instead of Thursday’s home game against Florida being a chance to steal the crown and jump up in the seeding, it’s a chance to save face.
No more schlubs after tonight. It’s all playoff teams from here on out. Time to show some heart.