Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
I had a recap for tonight, but then the third period happened; my story was rendered irrelevant. In the span of 11 minutes, the Washington Caps took six penalties and allowed two goals to blow 2-1 lead to the New Jersey Devils. It was awful and frankly surreal. This wasn’t the ref’s fault, it was entirely the Capitals’. You cannot take that many penalties and survive. The Caps did not survive.
The first period didn’t go too well at Verizon Center. In between press box Internet outages that even Cory Booker could not fix, the Devils controlled play throughout the period, save for a Caps power play late in the frame. Thankfully for the Caps, the Devs couldn’t convert on their 13-4 shot advantage through 20 minutes.
The game finally got interesting in the second. Really interesting. After Alex Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty on Anton Volchenkov, Troy Brouwer puts the moves on entering the offensive zone, Mathieu Perreault popped in the rebound to open the scoring. Barely a minute later, the Caps went to the PP again. This time it didn’t go so well — at least at first. As John Carlson was waiting to make the breakout pass behind Braden Holtby, he made a brutal turnover — the epitome of word “giveaway.” Adam Henrique picked up the puck and passed it to Patrik Elias in front of the net. Tie game. Mike Ribeiro, who is awesome, had other ideas though. At the tail end of the man-advantage, Ribz fired squigglier past Marty Brodeur to put the Caps back on top. The action in the second didn’t end there. Washington almost added another tally, but Ovechkin breakaway was foiled by bad ice late in the frame.
And the third period? Unspeakable awfulness. Six penalties, nearly all killed until Ilya Kovalchuk sealed the deal with about eight minutes left in the game.
None of that is to say penalties alone told the story. The Capitals held a lead for a good while despite being dramatically outshot (30 to 12 at even strength). If not for Braden Holtby, this would’ve been a debacle. Thanks to him, it’s just an embarrassing fiasco.
These two teams play again in less than 36 hours. I think it’s fair to say they shouldn’t repeat what transpired tonight. Since I clearly bring bad luck, Peter will be back with you Saturday.