Thursday, February 21, 2008

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


It’s like chili without the meat…pizza without the sauce…a hot fudge sundae without the fudge.

The Capitals are missing an important ingredient to their game, and it was on display last night in getting one point – not two – in a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.

The missing ingredient?…the ability to close out an opponent when they’re down.

The Islanders came to town on a winning streak, but depleted due to injury. The Capitals did their part early, using goals by Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich to run out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. And then…

…nothing.

At least the Caps are getting the minimum daily requirement of iron in their diet. Well, Alex Ovechkin is, anyway. He rang the crossbar or the post several times, including in the shootout.

One might be inclined to give Islander goalie Rick DiPietro the credit for holding off the Caps, especially with fine saves on Semin and Matt Pettinger in overtime, but this one is on the Caps. It is a game they could have, and should have won…period. It is the kind of game they have to win if they are going to make the playoffs.

It was a season-high third straight game without a point for Ovechkin, who had only one shot on goal registered (he also had four blocked and missed six others…we’re thinking he’s still feeling the effects of the flu).

For the fourth time in this four-game series, the Caps were held to two goals and played what amounted to a game on the Islanders’ terms…again. They were outhit by the visitors (24-13) and coughed up the puck 32 times to giveaways or Islander takeaways. The Islanders more than doubled the blocked shots credited to the Caps – 21-10.

It was a game of firsts, in addition to the first three-game pointless streak of the season for Ovechkin:

- The first time the Caps have lost a game this year when leading after two periods
- The first point for Matt Pettinger (the primary assist on Semin’s goal) since January 21st, against Pittsburgh.
- The first time in six games in which Pettinger had a point and the Caps lost.
- The first assist of the year for goaltender Olaf Kolzig (the second assist on the Brooks Laich goal).
- The first time Ovechkin was held to a single shot on goal in more than two months (December 10th, against New Jersey)

And here's an odd stat…but for the five shots on goal by Mike Green, the defensemen had…

…none.

As a group, they only attempted three (Tom Poti and John Erskine each had one shot blocked, Shaone Morrisonn missed on his lone attempt). “Getting the puck to the net” apparently wasn’t in (or wasn’t paid sufficient attention) in the game plan. It’s worth noting that the Laich goal was scored off Green throwing the puck at the net.

At this time of year, every point is precious, and getting one is better than getting none. And while the 3-2 overtime loss to Atlanta last week might qualify as a “good” one-point game, this one has to qualify as one of the “bad” one-point games, as the Islanders are a team that the Caps – playing at home – should have and needed to beat.

Perhaps just as precious are games held in hand. The Caps squandered a chance to tighten the screws a little further on Carolina, on which they still hold two games in hand while trailing by two points. While it is possible that the Caps could tie the Hurricanes for the Southeast Division lead with a win in Raleigh on Saturday (and a Carolina loss in regulation tonight when they host Atlanta), the Caps could also find themselves trailing by six points when they face New Jersey on Sunday, should Carolina win tonight and on Saturday. This is a roundabout way of saying that whatever margin of error the Caps have had is rapidly bleeding away, made worse by giving up a point in a game such as last night’s. And, as if it needs mentioning at this point, last night’s disappointing result sets up this weekend’s back-to-back games against Carolina and New Jersey as of the “huge” variety.

6 comments:

Elizabeth said...

"It is the kind of game they have to win if they are going to make the playoffs."

And there you have it, folks. I hear the faint echoes of nails being driven into the coffin.

daveukcapsfan said...

Totally agree Peerless. After the Atlanta game I commented that it was a point won rather than one lost.

However, last night was the complete reverse. Against a team missing so many players and 2-0 up, it was a terrible result. I only hope we don't miss the post season by one point.

The Peerless said...

If the Caps do miss by one point, in my mind it will be the result of something you won't see at all in the playoffs...

...the shootout.

A gimmick that has no place in determining a champion has such influence in determining who competes for one in the playoffs...

It's an abomination.

daveukcapsfan said...

I totally agree. Whats so wrong about a tied game? If the scores are even after 60 minutes, 1 point each and move on. No OT, no shootout.

Then OT is also saved for exclusive playoff use.

However, the shootout is there, there is an extra point up for grabs each time, so it wouldn't hurt to win a the odd one eh?

daveukcapsfan said...

Just realised I started both my comments with "Totally agree". Is this often enough to qualify as my catchphrase now?

Brunella said...

Methinks, the shootout is only "an abomination" when your gunners can't pot one for the life of them and your goalies all of a sudden revert to toddlerhood when faced with one. If we could WIN one of the damn things from time to time, and scamper off with an unearned freebie point thereby, maybe we wouldn't hate it so.