Sunday, December 23, 2007

A one-point night: Islanders 3 - Caps 2 (OT)

Well, it didn't go to a shootout...

Last night’s game between the Caps and the Islanders – a 3-2 overtime loss for the Caps – was a study in will and who could impose theirs on the other club. In the end, it was an Islander kind of game.


The Caps had two moments of the kind of style Bruce Boudreau has installed, and the Alexes scored goals. There are your Caps highlights. There are your highlights, period. The rest was a rather pugnacious affair, not as a penalty-filled affair, but more a contest of two clubs playing on the local, going from zone to zone and fighting for territory.

And that’s what the Caps more or less permitted. They didn’t press much in the early part of the game, looking more like they were on auto-pilot.

And here is your odd number for the evening…50:36.

That is how long it took Alex Ovechkin to register a shot on goal. For the game, the Alexes – Ovechkin and Semin – had a total of four shots. That’s what the Islanders do unless a club is more able to impose its will on them than the Caps were capable of last night.

Here is another reflection of the Islanders imposing their style on the game: 42-24. That was the difference in turnovers (giveaways yielded and takeaways made), the Caps having the “42.”

And, the Islanders had more blocked shots (18) than the Caps registered on goal (16).

Even when things showed promise, they didn’t last. An example – Viktor Kozlov, who has been battling a goal slump going back to November 8th in Ottawa, registered three shots in the first 18:45. He didn’t have another for the rest of the game, although he did have assists on both Capitals’ goals.

In the end though, it came down to Rick DiPietro and Olaf Kolzig. Both goalies made some top notch saves, but DiPietro made all the saves he’s supposed to make, too (although with 16 shots faced, it wasn’t as if he faced a severe test). Kolzig – who gave up the overtime winner on a severe-angle shot from Richard Park – did not.

The three points the Caps earned on the road were given up in the last two games – a home game of the sort they need to win and an overtime game that probably shouldn’t have gone that far. It isn’t the way to go into the break (0-1-2), and there are hazards as the Caps come out of the break next week – last year the Caps lost all five games between Christmas and New Years (including two sets of back-to-back games) by a combined score of 21-10. The Caps will spend this year’s between-the-holidays week facing four clubs who can make goalies in a slump pay – Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa twice.

It will be a big week, made bigger by the points that got away this week.