Friday, November 30, 2007
No goal, no goal, no points...Hurricanes 4 - Caps 5...uh, 4....uh, no...3
Sucks, doesn't it?
Just when the Caps find they can put the puck in the net, it doesn't count. Not once, but twice the good guys found goals overturned on review, and in the one instance a Carolina Hurricanes goal was reviewed, it stood. That was the difference in a 4-3 Carolina win over the Caps this evening.
It would be hard to fault the Caps' effort, but execution?...yeesh, especially deep in their own end.
Cory Stillman was left alone at goaltender Olaf Kolzig's left and had time for the puck to hit him in the logo of his jersey, settle the puck, and fire it into the cage. He was wearing red...someone had to see him. But then, Donald Brashear's indifferent clear that didn't make it to the neutral zone started the whole sequence.
Matt Cullen ends up at Kolzig's left, chipping a feed from Ray Whitney that found it's way over Kolzig's shoulder and into the net, and another Cap is in the vicinity watching the play instead of participating in it.
Rod Brind'Amour send one out in front from behind the net, trying to bank it off of Kolzig. But Kolzig is down, so that isn't going to work. Enter Alex Ovechkin, who bladed the airborne puck into his own net for the fourth, and game-winning goal.
Add in the did-he-or-didn't-he high stick the puck into the net goal by Brind'Amour in the second period, and it made for a weird night for the Caps.
The boys dug in and clawed back, to their credit. But the only ones who was rewarded were Ovechkin, with his two goals (scored for the Caps), and Michael Nylander. Ovechkin had one disallowed when video replay found (correctly) that he kicked the puck in. Mike Green had one disallowed when video found (again, correctly) that the puck crossed the goal line after the end of the second period. Add to that the chances that Ovechkin had late (he could have had five goals tonight, even without the own-goal he scored on Kolzig) and chances that Nicklas Backstrom had from in close -- he had five shots on goal, most of which were excellent scoring chances -- and the Caps didn't suffer for opportunity.
But like most games like this year, opportunity didn't translate into results. 35 shots on goal, and only three go in...while at the other end, it seemed every weird bounce that ended up on the Washington net went in.
One knows that young guys -- especially defensemen -- are going to have games where they struggle, and it's hard to get on them for that. But Jeff Schultz had a tough game tonight (you, dear reader, might have other words for it). Minus-three, and he was the one victimized on Stillman's goal and Cullen's goal by what seemed to be watching rather than playing.
Odd as it sounds, the Caps weren't far from providing Kolzig with a shutout. But for some poor defense in deep around him and a couple of odd bounces involving Rod Brind'Amour, this was a game the Capitals, if not dominated, certainly had the upper hand in for most of the game. Carolina managed only 19 shots on goal -- they had more shots than that blocked (21), a credit to the Caps team defense. The absence of Boyd Gordon was filled admirably by call-up Quintin Laing, who had four of those blocked shots.
For once, special teams did not let the Caps down. Two-for-seven on the power play and shutting out the Hurricanes on their five power plays was a good night on special teams play. With tonight's effort, the Caps are 5-for-11 on the power play and 9-for-9 on the penalty kill in the last two games against Carolina.
We were wondering, though...did Tomas Fleischmann play tonight? We seem to remember his having been kabonged once, but other than that mention, it was a pretty quiet night.
One (well, I) had the feeling watching this game that the Caps are close to breaking out. They played well and with purpose for most of this game. They were the better team.
But you know what?...it's only the score that counts, and in this season the Caps are finding new and more frustrating ways to end up on the short end of them.