Saturday, November 05, 2011

A NO-point night -- Game 12: Islanders 5 - Capitals 3

OK, Caps fans…you don’t need us telling you that tonight was bad…bad, bad, bad. Giving up five goals is not something a team should do under normal circumstances. But to do it against a team that scored a total of five goals in their last 271 minutes and change of hockey?

That’s what happened to the Capitals tonight as they blew a two-goal lead and lost to the New York Islanders, 5-3, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It looked like just another night and just another win for the Caps early on when they got goals early (from Joel Ward at 5:24) and late (from Alex Ovechkin at 18:41) in the first period to take a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

But in the second period, the Caps were let down by the unlikeliest of players. The Islanders scored early (from Franz Nielsen at 1:41) and late (from Brian Rolston at 16:55) in the second on shots that Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun would normally gobble up like a bag of potato chips. Having skated the night before, allowing the Islanders to tie the game before the second intermission put the Caps in the difficult position of trying to win a third period of hockey after already skating 100 minutes in about 24 hours.

It made getting that third goal important, and it was the Islanders who got it. Matt Martin put the Islanders ahead 6:28 into the third. Brooks Laich would get it back and re-tie the game with a power play goal a little less than three minutes after the Martin tally. But P.A. Parenteau put the Isles ahead one last time with 1:46 left with a diving poke-in of a puck that slithered through Vokoun’s pads after Milan Jurcina took the original shot. John Tavares added an empty-netter, and the two-game winning streak for the Caps and the six-game losing streak for the Isles were over.

Other stuff…

-- The Caps came into this game with an 11-0-3 record against the Islanders in their last 14 meetings. The Caps had not lost to the Islanders in regulation since dropping a 5-2 decision on October 18, 2007. They had not lost in regulation on Long Island since dropping another 5-2 decision on March 10, 2007. That makes this the first time Bruce Boudreau lost to the Islanders in regulation time in his tenure as Caps head coach.

-- From the “this is disturbing” file… the Caps have now allowed four or more goals in three of their last four games, losing two and getting one of the wins in overtime in a game they had no business winning (the November 1st game against Anaheim, won in overtime by a 5-4 score).

-- This was the first time this season the Caps allowed an opponent fewer than five power play opportunities and lost the game. The Islanders were 0-for-2 with the man advantage.

-- On the other side, the Caps technically had three power plays  There was a five minute power play that became two when the Caps took an intervening penalty. On the shot, one goal. A nifty roof job from the middle of the left wing circle by Brooks Laich.

-- Coming into this game the Caps were ranked second in the league at 5-on-5. The Isles were 30th. New York outscored the Caps 4-2 at 5-on-5 (5-2, if you count the empty netter). Go figure.

-- With two third period goals allowed tonight, that’s six third period goals in the last four games allowed by the Caps. Not what you want to see from a team trying to shut things down and lock things up.

-- Josh Bailey was on the ice for the Islanders’ third goal. It was the first time the Islanders scored this season with Bailey on the ice.

-- Dennis Wideman had his plus-minus halved tonight, from plus-8 to plus-4. He was on the ice for the last four Islander goals.

-- When is zero an odd number? When it refers to the number of hits credited to Alex Ovechkin. He is on a pace to record about half as many hits (123) as he had last season (241). One hopes the result will be less wear and tear on his body.

-- Another odd number?...20. This was the first time in four games that Tomas Vokoun faced more than 20 shots on goal. He stopped 17 of 19 in a loss to Edmonton and 11 of 15 in a win over Anaheim. He stopped 14 of 17 in only 20 minutes in a 7-4 loss to Vancouver. Over these last four games Vokoun is 1-2-1, 3.89, .847. He wasn’t good tonight, but in point of fact he’s been in something of a slump for a little while now.

-- Alexander Semin is now 0-for-16 shooting over his last seven-plus games, going back to his goal against Florida at 1:49 of the third period in a 3-0 win.

-- The third line had two of the Caps’ three goals tonight, but not as the third line. Brooks Laich scored on a power play with Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin the forwards (Laich played the left point); Joel Ward scored with Jason Chimera and Jeff Halpern on his line.

-- An indirect indicator of the effects of playing a second game in two nights…the Islanders only had 20 of 55 shot attempts not get through (14 blocked, six misses). The Caps weren’t getting in the Islanders’ way quickly enough.

-- Deuces are certainly wild for Nicklas Backstrom. With two assists, he posted his fourth straight two-point game and made it his eighth two-point game of the season. He has been held off the score sheet only twice in 12 games.

In the end, this game does not, by itself, mean a great deal. Games like this will happen a few times – even to the best of teams – a few times a year. But it is part of a larger piece, that the Caps are not playing all that well in spite of their record. In the five games since the 7-1 win over Detroit, consider…

…They have allowed 19 goals (3.80/game)
…They have allowed 19 goals on 137 shots (a .861 save percentage for the goalies)
…They are 3-for-17 on the power play (17.7 percent), which isn’t bad, except…
… They have allowed five power play goals in 20 chances (75 percent PK), so they’re minus-2 on special teams.

They are and have been leaky over the last two weeks from the goaltender out. And that is something that isn’t just what happened to Tomas Vokoun tonight. It’s been going on for a while now. And it needs to stop.

1 comment:

Jenifer Ponti said...

Alex Semin's days should be numbered.