Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
As the Washington Capitals returned home to face the New York Islanders, they were likely pondering the 6 points out of a total 8 they earned on their recent road trip. That pondering may have led to some absent-minded play in the first period, but the Caps recovered in the second to put forward one of their strongest possession games of the season. But possession was exactly what Mike Green didn’t have when his goof-up allowed the GWG for John Tavares.
Islanders beat Caps 3-2.
- The Islanders grabbed an early lead off goals by Michael Grabner and Josh Bailey. Both of those goals were due to some hard work by the Isles along the boards– plainly outworking the Caps. The Islanders took Verizon Center out of the game early, a palpable blow to a big homecoming game.
- In general, the Capitals aren’t a strong possession team when they’re behind on the scoreboard. Tonight was different. The second period Caps worked their way back, establishing a plus-11 even-strength shot attempt differential after 40 minutes. And, oh yeah, two goals.
- The first came from Mike Ribeiro, who doesn’t shoot until he sees the whites of the goalie’s eyes. Ribs caught a really smart pass from Troy Brouwer that created space and speed for the scorer. Ribeiro is scoring on more than a quarter of his shots on goal, which is laudable. No player has a bigger incentive to win games right now than he, so it makes sense.
- The second goal was a (possibly tipped) shot by John Carlson, who was moving laterally along the blue line like Oleksy is so wont to do. Yeah, Oleksy appears to be rubbing off on the tactics of others. Is that more awesome or weird? I can’t tell.
- Al Koken says “Literally!” more than Chris Traeger.
- Dmitry Orlov does not shoot enough. He’s been on the ice for over 75 minutes this season and has put just one puck on the net. Deliberately wide shots have their time and place, but Orly can make a real career for himself if he makes like Carlson and takes Oleksy’s lead: shoot early and often!
- The Capitals expertly killed Matt Hendricks‘ interference penalty in the third. As Hendy escaped the box, he drew a penalty from the Isles. A good turnaround of fortune, but the ensuring power play was shotless– despite some Ovechkin solo heroics.
- Late in the third, Mike Green lost track of the puck between his skates. Matt Moulson got that loose puck to John Tavares, who transmogrified it into the game-winner.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s point streak hits 6 games. His 32 on the season is more than Mike Milbury got in all but his two best years– when he played 70-80 games.
That was disappointing. Rough start, big comeback, and then one innocent goof costs the Caps the game. That was a very valuable pair of points the Caps let go. When the final standings show a margin of one or two points, remember how they bobbled off the blades of Mike Green back in late March. And then reach for an adult beverage.
But don’t get down on the Caps though– this was a well-played game lost by a slim margin. That’s hockey, the sport we usually love but tonight we hate.
P.S. Joe B and Locker in plaid over there sorta has an “early days of Monday Night Football” vibe to it, right? Only thing missing is, well, fedoras, scotch, and seething misogyny.