Tight Game, Tough Loss: Shark beat Caps 2-1 (SO)

bl21 - Rob Carr

Photo: Rob Carr

Gone are the days of the Sabres and Leafs. The Washington Capitals hosted the actually good San Jose Sharks on Tuesday to a fast-moving, low-scoring affair. The Caps came out of the gates strong, but the Sharks pushed back. We were treated to a tightly played, evenly matched game played mostly at five-on-five. Lucky us. It went to the shootout again. Less lucky us.

The Capitals owned the game’s first ten minutes, but the Sharks stole control back after that and Tyler Kennedy scored. Alex Ovechkin tied it up in the second with a zero-angle one-timer. The Sharks thought they got the lead back before the second intermission, but the buzzer went off a fraction of a second earlier. The third period was a back-and-forth affair but neither team was able to deposit the disc in the drapery. OT couldn’t make up its mind either, so…

Shootout recap!

  • Eric Fehr put it in the pads.
  • Joe Pavelski lost control.
  • Alex Ovechkin also lost control. He’s ice cold on the shootout.
  • Patrick Marleau scored on the forehand.
  • Nick Backstrom roofed it high. Bloop.

Sharks beat Caps 2-1 (Shootout)

  • Alex Ovechkin, gee whiz. Shotless through the game’s halfway mark, Ovi finally put one on target- and behind Antti Niemi at 32:44. Ovi one-timed a pass from Karl Alzner over Niemi’s shoulder for a completely unlikely 33rd goal– and the one that tied the game. Worth noting: Ovi was maybe 15 feet below the Ovi spot– right in the no-angle, no-chance neighborhood. I like it when Ovi shoots moar, and from moar places. Here’s your boy John Walton calling the goal with aplomb:
  • Philipp Grubauer had to withstand a barrage late in the second. Joel Ward would have worn his minus with shame, but the Sharks’ no-goal came after the buzzer. After a soft call on Nick Backstrom nullifying Alzner’s goal and Grabo getting millered on Sunday, it’s good to see lady luck swing the other way. Very strong game by Grubi overall.
  • Aaron Volpatti vs Mike Brown, a high-event PunchCorsi pair. Watch the fight here and brush up on 29 CFR 1910, guidelines on bloodborne pathogens, here.
  • The second period began with an impromptu lineup change: Eric Fehr was “promoted” to Backstrom’s “first” line, and Brooks Laich was “demoted” to Ovechkin’s “second” line. I dunno why. Oates works in mysterious ways and three-piece suits.
  • Whole lotta 5v5 action in this one as neither team got busted for non-facepunching penalties until Nick Backstrom‘s o-zone trip in the third. The Caps killed that one off aggressively and didn’t return to the box again. Huzzah for following the rules. I guess.
  • Karl Alzner didn’t get a shot on goal in this game. That used to be a common thing, but lately our quiet stay-at-home defenseman has become a social butterfly. Shots by game sparkline!
    spark-alzner-shots
    OoOoOoOoO sparklines pretty.
  • Eric Fehr, he of the 1st and a half line, was awesome. As usual. He crashed the net with plurality, desperately throwing pucks at guys with names that sound like a Star Wars character. He coulda scored three times. Maybe he should be on a line with Ovi. That’d be fun. Just a thought.
  • Dunno if ExtraSkater will update this, but Aaron Volpatti had the best puck possession on the team. He was on for nine shot attempts total: 7 for the Caps, 2 for the Sharks. A 77.8% possession score, which would be total domination if it weren’t such a teensy litle sample.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

Back in the day, we used to complain about the Caps having slow starts. The home team came out shooting in this one, but like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before them, they couldn’t sustain that hot start. The Sharks eventually asserted their puck-possession dominance (they’re second best in the league), holding the Caps shotless for ten minutes in the first period. From then on, it was pretty much neck-and-neck, which is actually pretty encouraging. Also encouraging: another 30+ shot affair for a team that used to treat the puck a bit too preciously.

Going in blind, I’d expected the Caps to lose the Sharks in regulation, so I’m pretty darn happy with taking even just a single standings point from this one. Add to that Alex Ovechkin’s great goal, and it was a good night for the Caps.

A shootout loss shouldn’t demoralize us. The Caps looked pretty good tonight.

But now they hit the road. Wednesday is (ugh) rivalry night on NBCSN. It’s the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re okay, I guess. If you’re into that sort of thing.

  • dylan wheatley

    53.2 FF% at 5v5 close against the goddamn san jose sharks. thats a win.

  • Graham Dumas

    I only caught the last half of the game, but I thought we lookd excellent. I was especially impressed by the stickwork and positioning of our D. Tough loss, but I was really impressed; I thought we were going to get absolutely plundered tonight. Perhaps we’re saving that for tomorrow…

  • Benjamin Esham

    Ugh, I’m so over the shootout ..

  • Graham Dumas

    Agreed. Can’t believe we managed that. Maybe they weren’t expecting us to show up?

  • bob

    I guess these guys are ok with these 1 point games, they are consistent with them. I dont know what it is with opposing goalies but they turn into game 7 patrick roy’s every time. Im slowly starting to feel a playoff spot fade away with the other teams in the division all playing better hockey

  • Dave

    I don’t know where this ranks among easy decisions Oates refuses to make, but fortheloveofgod switch Ovi and Grabo’s spots on the shootout already! There are points at stake here!

  • James Desautels

    Already not looking forward to tomorrow nights all Pens all night lovefest from the entire NBC crew of objective NHL experts. I can already hear Milbury commenting that Ovi is JUST scoring goals, he isn’t leading his team.

  • Jack Conness

    It is sad how lackluster and ineffective this offense is when Alex Ovechkin isn’t absolutely perfect. Ovi was perfect the first two months of the season and the Caps snuck by. Now Ovi is playing at like a 9.5 out of 10 and now they can’t score! Don’t get me wrong, I love Backstrom and Grabo. But after that, WHERE IS THE OFFENSE? I love most of the guys on the team. Fehr, Wardo, Chimera, etc. But do I just love who they are and oversee how bad they are or what? This team is pitiful without Ovi honestly and it is sad. Look at the Penguins minus Crosby. They are fine! They have an awesome team around him. The Caps without a PERFECT Ovi are a disaster. Not Ovi’s fault at all. He plays on a pretty piss poor team and it is extremely disappointing.

    Sorry for this vent but jeez. I want to see this man win. He does everything he can but no one else can seem to help.

  • Jonathan Garcia

    It’s almost like the coaching staff isn’t using all the plays at their full potential.

  • Jake Ettawakapow

    If I were Oates I wouldn’t put a guy in the shootout especially if he is 2/12 on the year in the shootout. I officially hate shootouts. Expect us to lose whenever we go to another one. Jk. Yeah I am mad. :(((((

  • bob

    Ovi really isnt that great at the shootout, it really is frustrating

  • CapsCast

    The Caps need every point they can get. March Is Coming!

  • Jack Conness

    I don’t know what it is but it sucks to watch Ovi’s prime years go to waste. Being completely realistic here…the Caps will probably SNEAK into the playoffs this season but dip out early, like always. This isn’t a Stanley Cup team. Not at all. I hate saying it but it is true. Ovi is the best player in the game and he can’t get any help around him (players, coaching staff, management).

  • Jack Conness

    Shootouts suck.

  • Graham Dumas

    So can we start referring to Volpatti as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health? A-SLOSH, as the kids say.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Ward: 15 Caps shot attempts, 25 Sharks shot attempts
    Mojo: 12, 26
    Chimera: 12, 26

    That’s 32-39% puck possession. Cannot do that against PIT.

  • Ash

    “Aaron Volpatti had the best puck possession on the team.”

    …Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I guess the fans pay to watch the stars shoot. It’s a coin toss anyway.

  • Dave

    Last year’s commentary:

    “Crosby has a PhD in hockey”

    -Mike Milbury, presumably while fondling himself. Notice you can’t see his left hand during the clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOSVeeYuMTo

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    36 shots! The goals will come.

  • Graham Dumas

    Yeah, dude needs to not be there. Or he needs to go all Crosby on a garbage can in the off season to work out his shoutout demons.

  • Bugs Fire

    Let’s hope Green keeps improving. He was much better in recent games playing defence than earlier in the season. Pairing him with Orlov seems to work.

  • Rogbo64

    I decided to stop drinking warm Schlitz’s es es es and start crocheting during games this season. I figured that less crushed cans in frustration and a warm blanky were in order. I discovered the crocheting is better with the crushed cans of warm Schlitz’s es es es. The 3-lines are straighter….

  • JessHughes

    Agree shoot out is a lot of dumb luck. Given the Caps’ early season success in the shoot out, no surprise they are regressing now. Also doesn’t help to face the likes of Ryan Miller twice and Niemi in these things. Hard to win when your goalie has to be perfect. Loved tonight’s effort though – looked like everyone’s feet were moving. Go Caps! Tomorrow night on mute with Walton calling the game.

  • Myan

    I really hate it when Ovi starts stick handling and trying to deke out goalies in the SO. Doesn’t he realize that the best thing about his game is his shot & the quick release?

  • Bugs Fire

    What is the verdict on Grubauer? On one hand, I am tempted to say he was a big factor in this game – particularly good fighting through the screens (can we please ask Orlov to try to clear the crease?). On the other hand, his rebound control seemed, well, absent. On the third hand, Western conference teams may be less effective against him because they have not seen him much.

  • Myan

    I wonder how many times Milbury has called his wife “Sid” in bed.

  • Mike Johnson

    I’m betting that if Ovi just started taking nearly point blank slap shots in the shootout instead of stick handling until the puck rolls away he could do better than 2 for 13.

  • Hands of Cement

    I can’t agree more, why oh why does Oates insist on putting Ovi @ #2 slot on shoot outs!!!! first (and most important) 3 shooters should be Fehr, Grabbo & Backy, go for Brouwer at #4 then Ovi at #5, the stats prove it, GO WITH GRABBO

  • Bugs Fire

    First of all, this was way more awesome than I expected. Sharks have the average +7 shot difference this season, Caps stand at -3.5. To outshoot Sharks by seven shots is something nobody could have predicted. Caps could have won this game, and would have deserved it.

    I think this game proves Caps can play much better than they have so far. How could this be that just two days ago they got the same outcome against one of the arguably worst teams this year? It is exactly the same lineup. Why can’t they play the same way as today every night? Or even better – can Adam Oates please use whatever technique he used today to get them to compete every day? Please?

  • Bugs Fire

    From the replay it looked that Wingles totally dived on the Backstrom’s tripping penalty. On the other hand, Chimera clearly got away with punching Vlasic. At least zebras had the decency not to call Vlasic on delay of game.

  • Myan

    2/13 after tonight. Grabo should really shoot 2nd.

  • H70

    Why not Grabo in the shootout?

  • Myan

    Ward-Chimera line works but not with Mojo at center. If only we had a center for them like…Mathieu Perreault.

  • Diller M

    It was nice to see (hear) the caps pushing in OT tonight. As we will continue to collect losses in the SO as our crazy high win percentage drops back to the 50 range. Now if only a game could end in regulation…

    Great recap as always Peter!

    Ps I didn’t realize you were a Duke! What year?

  • Matt Root

    brilliant haha

  • Jack Conness

    I know, I know. I apologize Peter. A quick overreaction right after the game. Losing is frustrating…especially with this team.

  • Jack Conness

    Agreed. I noticed this the past couple weeks as well. Green has played much better. Not the Green of old but much better than the Green that we saw at the start of the season.

  • Simonezero

    Backstrom rocks in shootouts. Not lately though, and I think he could still be great just take him out of the closer slot! Put Nicky first, and no matter what you do, never use Green again.

  • Georgoroth

    :)

  • Bugs Fire

    Green was not in the shootout.

  • Barry

    I loved watching Fehr kill that penalty early in the third. What a gem he is.

  • Dan

    I’m not sure people really pay to watch to see this. This season Ovi has barely even gotten a clean shot off in the shootout/penalty shot. I think the fans would rather see Grabo–who is apt to take a slap shot, spin-o-rama, or Foresberg move–even if he misses. In any event, Ovi seems to be shooting worse than the proverbial coin-toss. Isn’t it worth trying something else?

  • Phil Owen

    Yep. Don’t know why they even bother keeping track of pucks actually crossing the goal line. Let’s have a stat celebration party, since that’s clearly all that matters!

  • GuestZ

    um, except we lost…

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I think Dylan is being a little facetious (as usual), but he also has a point. The Caps demonstrated they could hang with an elite team, limit shots against, and put 36 on net. If they can do that in PIT, it could be a lot of fun.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Graduated 2005! I loved it there.

  • dylan wheatley

    i wasn’t being facetious at all actually haha. teams that don’t outshoot their opponents don’t win stanley cups. i want this team to develop into a consistent possession team.

  • dylan wheatley

    outshooting good teams is more imporant than winning a game here and there because of luck. you can ask the 2012/2013 maple laughs about that.

  • Eric Schulz

    Fans of the Caps just want to see the Caps win; we don’t really care who scores. More importantly, the coach should be putting out the players who give the team the best chance to win the shootout, not the players the fans want (in the hypothetical scenario you describe). For some reason, Ovie sucks in the shootout. He’s the best goal-scorer in the league, one of the best 5 goal scorers of all time, but he’s not good there, so whatever. Figure it out and move on. Hendricks was deadly in the shootout, so we used him.

  • Eric Schulz

    Also, we came away with a point, so it’s hard to look at it as a loss, even though it wasn’t a win either. Totally agree with wheatley here; if we play that well all the time, we’ll win a lot of games.

  • Eric Schulz

    Why don’t you and people like you understand the argument? It’s about process… results follow the correct process. If you go out there and play correctly all the time, you’ll be just fine. As wheatley mentioned, the perfect counter-example is the Maple Leafs. One win doesn’t say much about a team; in 82 games, with all 30 teams having elite talent, any team can win any game. The teams that play well will end up winning MORE of them, and end up making the playoffs, giving themselves a shot at the Cup.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, I’ve defended this team to some people, because we have the makings of a very, very good team, we are just missing a piece or two (and we have some trade chips to make it work, although wasting Forsberg on a redundant, overpaid depth winger hurt our chances)… but outside of Ovie, nobody is *playing* well. We have talent, but nobody else, at least so far, seems to be maximizing their talents (Backstrom and Grabovski arguably are there too, but Backstrom doesn’t seem to be as good as he used to be, especially without the puck, even though the points are there). Imagine if Brouwer was scoring at the rate he was last year.. if Laich was the guy he used to be, back when he was healthy… or if Green was…

  • Eric Schulz

    I think the talent is there. I’d like the Caps to make a move or two to improve the team, but we just need our better players playing better. If Brouwer could regain his form from last year, if Laich could return to the 20-20 guy he used to be when healthy, we could be a contender (depending on goaltending; that was the reason, IMO, we didn’t make even the ECF during that 3-4 year stretch in which we were arguably the best team in the league; I never liked the scapegoating of Semin). We have some youth coming up in the system too (and we need it, as capped out as we are; would be nice to be able to redo that Erat-Forsberg trade, to help on both fronts), so maybe next year, if we add Kuznetsov, we can start to put it together. By then, I’d expect Neuvirth and Erat to be moved; hopefully we’ll trade them for something we need (a top-4 defenseman) and not something completely stupid (an overpaid 3rd line winger). I get where you are coming from… things don’t look great, but we also have guys playing worse than we know they can. That’s what I’m hoping for… guys to rediscover their best form. With a guy like Brouwer, that seems more than reasonable. Laich… maybe. Green… probably not.

  • Eric Schulz

    I thought that was a horrible trade, but at least Perreault is now on a team that can use him prominently (I believe he’s a 2nd line center now, he’d be 3rd with us), so he’s in a better place for himself. I’m still burning about the Forberg trade; wrong on about 4 levels.
    However, I think Laich would work well between Chimera and Ward. He’s struggled so far since returning from his injuries the last two years… it would be nice to ask him to do a little less while on that line, and work with a top-6 of Johansson, Backstrom, Ovie (1st) and Fehr, Grabovski, Brouwer. (Fehr may deserve to be on the top line with Ovie and Backstrom, but I think that’s a better use of the talent to create depth, and two dangerous scoring lines). That leaves a 4th of Beagle and Wilson… I guess Erat is the other forward? Would have been nice to have kept Hendricks for that spot, had Forsberg in the pipeline since we quite obviously don’t have a place for Erat (something that was obvious to me AT THE TIME OF THE TRADE, which was why I hated it – one of the reasons, not the biggest, honestly – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who realized that), have left Wilson in the OHL, since I don’t see that him getting 6 minutes a game helps him develop, and without Erat we’d have some cap space, so we could absorb some in a trade, if necessary. We could use Neuvy as trade bait, maybe Brouwer as well (if we wanted to clear a spot for Wilson; whether we move him to 2nd, or 3rd and bump up Ward, as prolific as he’s been), and with Kuznetsov, Forsberg, and Burakovsky, we could throw one of them into a trade if need be. We need a top-2 shutdown guy; they aren’t really available in general, of course, but what if a bad, rebuilding team was willing to move one? I’d be trying to work a deal with Buffalo for Myers… he’s young, but he’s also regressed, so he should be available, and given a) the lack of available top-tier defenders, and b) the needs of the team, I’d be willing to take that gamble. See if they’d take Neuvy, Brouwer, and a 1st… I’d like to hold onto those 4 prospects (Kuznetsov, Forsberg, Burakovsky, Wilson), but just about everybody else would be available. Maybe a 1st this year and next, plus a couple of prospects like Galiev and Bowey?

  • Eric Schulz

    Can we start referring to him as “former Capital” instead?

  • Jack Conness

    Exactly! And bunch of IFS. IF Green could return to his old form. IF Laich could return to his old form. IF Brouwer could return to his old form. Just a bunch of ifs this year and it sucks. I hope I’m wrong here but I just don’t invision any kind of run in the playoffs this year.

  • Eddie

    A few things:
    1) The Caps HAVE to be better about their passing. That no-look pass that went straight to the Sharks that led to their goal should never have happened. That kind of careless shit kills them.
    2) I really have no idea what the goalie sitch is, but Grubauer needs to go back to Hershey. Holtby and Neuvirth are starting to rust, and we don’t pay them to rust. If one or both of them are hurt, I’ll understand, but otherwise, LET THEM PLAY.
    3) Too many overtimes and shootouts this season. Not liking that.
    4) What I do like is seeing the Caps’ puck possession go like it did last night, which resulted in a one-penalty game for the Caps (not counting the one five-for-fighting each team had) and a lot of scoring chances. If they keep that up and improve passing and timing, they’d be unstoppable. Lots of good looks and chances that were whiffed by a split second last night.

  • Diller M

    Nice! I was class of 05 as well. (I actually ended up graduating in Dec 04′)

  • Diller M

    Blood means human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood

    Products made from human blood? Blood Ice cubes perhaps? Red Jersey dye?

  • Rhino40

    the universe is random, s*** happens, and who you gonna call?

  • Rhino40

    “Grip it and Rip it”

  • Red

    My Star Wars IQ must not be up to par. What character sounds like Antti Niemi?

  • Rhino40

    and I wonder how many Caps’ players’ names will be mis-pronounced by Doc Emrick.

  • Red

    What’s upsetting for me is that this result was completely predictable. It’s painfully obvious that the Caps play up/down to the competition. We’re incapable of performing hockey on both ends of the ice. We either score enough or shut down long enough to squeak into extra time, and then just hope for the best. Scoring goals AND stopping shots is just not something we’ve been able to accomplish with any sort of consistency. We’re just riding it out on individual talent. As a team we’re in the bottom 5 in the league.
    The game was incredibly fun to watch though. I highly recommend coming out to see the Caps play against tough competition, because that’s when they’re at their best.

  • Red

    Amen. Ovi has the deadliest slapper in the league. Why he chooses to leave his rocket launcher on the bench during shootouts is beyond me.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    None, really, but I’ve been doing a variation on this joke for like 4 years now and I ain’t stopping anytime soon.

  • Red

    It’s got kind of a neutral classy feel to it. I’d cast him as an ambassador to Naboo…or something.

  • JoeA

    That’s a good point except for the fact that the stats DO NOT prove it. Ovi is 25 for 81 on shootout attempts which puts his success rate at 31%. He is going through a cold spell this year and the only thing this tells us that he may be due to score more on the shootout. Keep putting him in. The goals will come.

  • Pat Magee

    I feel that the caps adjust their game according to who we’re playing. We play up/down to our opponent. Need to stop that.

  • prut
  • prut

    mmmm discrete sparkline

  • SleepyAlligator

    So, we’ve had zero goals in our last three shootouts. Yet, we keep putting out the same three players to shoot.
    I’m no hockey coach, but maybe Oates should CHANGE OUR SHOOTOUT GUYS ALREADY! Are we afraid of making Ovi mad again? I would go with:
    1- Grabo
    2- Wardo
    3- Nicky
    On another note, I think our lines are getting confusing. Someone please explain to me how Brouwer is on the “first” line. Troy should be on the third line at best (O wait, that’s our only good line). Laich, at this point, should be a healthy scratch. All BS drama aside, Erat is better than either of these two.

  • Red

    Wow. Talk about perfect linkage. Internet expert level -achieved.