Capitals can't overcome Oilers, lose first game of the season 2-1.
The Capitals went into Thursday night with a flawless record: 7-0-0. They were the last undefeated team in the NHL. However, as they say, “all good things must come to an end”. That end was a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. The Capitals didn’t help themselves with stupid penalties, giving the Oilers eight power play chances, including four 5 on 3 opportunities. The refs were calling pretty much everything on both sides, and they only missed two calls: a late slashing call on the Oilers and the refs probably could have called the Oilers for interference due to its rather vague description late in the second period.
The first period was an extremely fast-paced and exciting period. It was back and forth the entire period. Thanks to some stellar defense by the Oilers, they were able to match up with the Capitals despite the Capitals spending a good portion of the first period in their attack zone. The Capitals managed to break through just over 5 minutes into the period with a jaw-dropping slap shot from Karl Alzner. Alzner’s goal with his first goal of the year. Assists were given to Jeff Halpern (his third of the year) and Jason Chimera (his first of the year). After that, the game really started to go down hill. The Capitals kept taking stupid penalties, and the Oilers took advantage of a 5 on 3. Young star Taylor Hall blasted one into the net following a beautiful pass sequence from Jordan Eberle and Corey Potter. Nothing you can do when a guy like Hall blasts a one-timer from that distance except pray that he misses. The Capitals committed four penalties in the first period, including John Carlson’s unacceptable delay of game penalty due to putting a puck over the glass in his defensive zone. The Capitals managed to outshoot the Oilers 9-5 in the first period, but that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. I counted at least seven blocked shots by the Oilers just in the first period. They did a great job taking away most of the Capitals’ big opportunities.
Going into the second period, Caps fans expected the Caps to come out and play more disciplined hockey. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. The Capitals committed five penalties in the second period. That wound up biting them in the posterior 12:44 into the period. On another 5 on 3, Eberle unleashed a snap shot from point blank range. Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun could do nothing about it. I must give credit to Potter and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for an incredible pass sequence. Both Potter and Hopkins were given an assist on that play. In the second period, the Oilers outshot the Capitals 8-7. Despite having to play shorthanded for almost half the period, the Capitals were able to muster some offense, but Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin turned them away.
The third period was all Capitals, but Khabibulin did an amazing job in keeping the one-goal lead in the third despite the Capitals firing 19 shots on goal during the period. The Capitals got lots of chances, and made a number of great shots, but it didn’t matter because Khabibulin was that good. The Capitals even got 3 PP chances, but they couldn’t get one to go by Khabibulin.
Most Capitals fans are probably mad about the refs and their calls. Allow me to talk as a hockey player: the refs were clearly calling everything by the book, and all of the Capitals penalties were legitimate. The diving call was questionable, but Matt Hendricks went a little bit too far in his noble effort to try to draw the penalty. The Oilers played disciplined hockey for the most part. They did get away with slashing on the last Caps power play, and the refs missed an interference penalty late in the second. No ref is perfect though, and I actually think they were pretty consistent. This game was more about Khabibulin standing on his head than anything else.
On a side note, Alexander Semin played in his 400th NHL game. Congratulations to him, it’s been exciting to watch him grow. I know he probably won’t be a Capital after this year, but despite his predictable stupid penalties and him being hilariously streaky, I will always be a fan of Alexander and his infamous “Semin shots”.
This loss is about the best way to take a loss that I can imagine. The Capitals still looked strong, they just had a tough night. Nothing seemed to go right for them. That happens in hockey, and you’ve just got to shake your opponent’s hand and say, “Job well done”. Ovechkin was just off on several shots and their power play clearly misses Mike Green. Dennis Wideman did a solid job filling in for him as the power play’s “quarterback”. Hopefully Mike Green will be back soon. I’m especially proud of the PK units tonight. They really kept the Capitals in the game. Props to the Oilers, they are a young and very exciting team.