Short-handed Capitals lose to Devils 3-2 in shootout
The Washington Capitals finished off their home-and-home weekend series with the New Jersey Devils with a 3-2 loss in a shootout. It was a tough loss because the Capitals took an early 2-0 lead and were not able to finish off the Devils.
The first period could not have gone much better for the Capitals. Devils goalie Johan Hedberg got an early delay of game penalty when he sent the puck over the glass. The Capitals power play looked good until Alex Semin got called for tripping in the offensive zone. The Capitals came out with a lot of energy, and it paid off when Troy Brouwer got a takeaway in the offensive zone and got an easy goal after faking out Hedberg. It was Brouwer’s fourth goal of the year. The Capitals almost scored on their next power play attempt, scoring just after the powerplay ended. Jason Chimera deflected a John Carlson slap shot past Hedberg to make the score 2-0. Carlson and Marcus Johansson were credited with the assists on that play. In general, the Devils looked flat in the first period, while the Capitals came out with a lot of energy.
The second period was the opposite of the first period: the Devils showed energy, while the Capitals did not. This was expected, as numerous Capitals were not 100%. John Erskine was a late scratch, and Mike Green was a scratch as well. Because of this, the blue line was short-handed and Brooks Laich had to be a defenseman. Petr Sykora and Ryan Carter each added second period goals to even the score. Both times Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth did not have a chance. Sykora’s goal was pretty much unavoidable. Devils won the draw and Sykora just unleashed a bomb. Very few goalies would have had a chance at that one. The second goal was on the defense. They missed numerous chances to clear the puck, and it wound up costing them. The Capitals looked listless in the second period, managing just two early shots on goal.
The third period was a battle between the two teams. Both teams looked extremely tried, and it showed. The Capitals were unable to take advantage of power play opportunities. They had some good chances late in the period, but Hedberg came up huge when he needed to. Both goalies did well in the third period, forcing the game to go into overtime. Overtime was relatively action-free, as both teams were clearly running on fumes, both having played each other the night before.
The Devils won in the shootout 2-1. Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals, Zach Parise and David Clarkson scored for the Devils. Matt Hendricks and Nicklas Backstrom both had a good chance to score but couldn’t take advantage. Alex Semin wound up losing control of the puck, which was extremely uncharacteristic of him. He’s usually the Capitals most reliable guy in shootouts. I’ll contribute it to an off-night.
Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera both had terrific games for the Capitals. Alex Semin, outside of his one early penalty, played extremely well too. He hustled back on defense, controlled the puck well, and got some good chances. Alex Ovechkin played his heart out as usual and was a huge presence in the hitting game. The players of the game for the Capitals though were three defensemen: Dennis Wideman, John Carlson, and Brooks Laich. Wideman totaled 33:52 of ice time after totaling just under 30 minutes the night before. Carlson had 26:50 of ice time and was the Capitals best defenseman all night long. Laich did a little bit of everything: He was primarily a defenseman in both even strength and power play situations, and also spent some time at center on the PKs. Combined, Laich wound up 23:26 of ice time. Almost half of that was spent on the power play or penalty kill.
The Capitals biggest concern right now should be to get healthy. So many players are dealing with injuries and they desperately need to get healthy. All things considered, the Capitals went into this weekend and got three points in two games. I’ll definitely take that, especially with the team’s blue line being in shambles right now.