Sometimes, you really do run into a hot goaltender. The Washington Capitals did just that, failing to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last night at Verizon Center.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 39 of 41 shots, including 17 of 18 power play shots, in throttling the Caps. It was on a power play that the game’s scoring started, courtesy of Eric Fehr just over three minutes into the game. After some deft passing in and through the Columbus zone, Fehr redirected a John Carlson drive through Bobrovsky 3:19 into the game.
It might have signaled a big night for the Caps, but they could not pull away. Columbus tied the game at the 15:36 mark when Nick Foligno recorded his 12th goal of the season by ringing a wrist shot off the pipe and behind goalie Braden Holtby.
After a scoreless second period, one in which Bobrovksy turned away 15 Capital shots, Washington regained the one-goal lead 9:20 into the third period. Troy Brouwer got his eighth goal of the season on another redirection, this one coming when he circled all the way around the Blue Jacket net, appearing to Bobrovsky’s left just in time to get his stick on a Matt Niskanen drive from the right point to make it 2-1.
That might have been it, but an old bugaboo bit the Caps – allowing the quick goal after a score of their own. Just 1:39 after Brouwer’s goal, Kevin Connauton tied the game with a long range shot that squirted through a disbelieving Holtby’s pads, the goalie staring down at them for several seconds after the puck settled into the back of the net.
That left it up to overtime to settle things, and Columbus did just that in the last half minute of the extra session when Foligno got his second goal of the game, one-timing a pass from Jack Johnson on a Columbus power play to end it at 4:41, Blue Jackets on top, 3-2.
-- Alex Ovechkin… nine shots on goal, 16 shot attempts…no points. It was one of those nights for the captain and the team.
-- Marcus Johansson has a thing for the Blue Jackets. He had a season high eight shots on goal in the Caps’ 4-2 win on Veterans Day. He had four shots on goal last night, his third highest shot total of the season. He also had no points.
-- The 41 shots on goal was the second time this season the Caps topped the 40 shot mark. It was also the second time the Caps lost the game, the other time coming on November 22nd when the Caps had 44 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
-- The 23 shots Holtby faced was the fewest he faced in a full game since he stopped 19 of 23 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss to Calgary on November 4th. He is 2-2-3 this season in full games in which he faced fewer than 25 shots on goal with a save percentage in those games of .892.
-- It was target practice for the Caps on the power play. Nine different players recorded shots on goal, but Eric Fehr’s was the only one of 18 shots to get through on what would be his only power play shot on goal.
-- The Caps were clearly out of practice on the power play. They had six chances, the most in a game for the team since they went 1-for-6 in a 4-2 loss to Detroit on October 29th. Going into this game the Caps had two or fewer power play chances in eight of their previous nine games and had only six chances combined over their previous three contests.
-- Corsi-haters will love this one. Shot attempts… Caps: 73, Blue Jackets: 49.
-- Columbus made up for their lack of shooting with a high volume of hitting. They were credited with 30 hits, perhaps just another way of saying the Caps always had the puck.
-- More of the little things the Caps did well…faceoffs. Nicklas Backstrom was 13-for-19; Eric Fehr was 8-for-13; Troy Brouwer was 7-for-9; Michael Latta was 5-for-7. The Caps overall won 36 of 62 draws.
-- Not the best of nights for Jason Chimera against his old team. Two shots, no points, and two penalties, including the interference call that led to the game-winning goal, and barely ten minutes of ice time.
-- It kind of figured that Brooks Orpik and John Carlson would be on ice for the game-winner against. They rank third (15) and fifth (13), respectively in power play goal against on ice among NHL defensemen.
In the end…
The Caps did everything but win this game. More shots, more power plays, an avalanche of power play shots, more faceoff wins, perfect penalty kill in regulation. That is the unique difference a goalie can make in a single game. Bobrovsky was the difference for Columbus. He could have been named all three stars for this game. For the Caps, it’s deal with it and move on. They still have points in four straight games and are 3-0-1 in their march through the Eastern Conference portion of their schedule to close the year. It does get tougher, though, as a Tampa Bay Lightning team bent on revenge for the loss the Caps pinned on them last Tuesday come to town on Saturday. Time to get back to work comes soon enough.