Saturday, February 25, 2017

A NO-Point Night -- Game 61: Nashville Predators 5 - Washington Capitals 2

We have said from time to time that in an 82-game season, there are 20 games a team will win, no matter what, there are 20 that they will lose, no matter what, and it is what the team does with the rest of the games that is the difference between a successful season and an unsuccessful one.  Well, there was little doubt after the first few minutes that the Washington Capitals were going to experience one of those “lose no matter what” kinds of games.  The Caps scored early, then saw the Nashville Predators put up four straight goals on their way to a 5-2 win over the Caps on Saturday evening.

Tom Wilson put the Caps on top in the second minute of the contest.  Daniel Winnik picked up a loose puck at his own blue line and skated it down the left side.  At the Nashvill blue line he left if for Jay Beagle trailing the play.  Beagle took a couple of steps in, and then from the top of the left wing circle fed the puck to the front of the Predator net where Wilson was arriving ahead of defenseman Matt Irwin.  Wilson redirected the puck past goalie Juuse Saros, and it was 1-0, Caps, 1:12 into the game.

That would be the high point of the contest for the Caps.  Nashville could not find the equalizer in the first period, but they found it early in the second.  Roman Josi tied the game less than two minutes into the period when he one-timed a feed from Filip Forsberg past goalie Philipp Grubauer.  Then the roof fell in on the Caps.  Forsberg dialed his own number, one-timing a pass from Viktor Arvidsson from the right wing circle past Grubauer’s right shoulder, off the far post, and in at the 8:54 mark to make it 2-1.

Three minutes later the Preds were on the board again, this time on a power play.  Taking a cross-ice pass from P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis sent a slap pass to the front of the net where Mike Fisher redirected it past Grubauer, and it was 3-1, Nashville, 11:57 into the period. 

Josi extended the lead mid-way through the third period on a power play goal, his second of the game, and the competitive portion of the contest was all but over.  Evgeny Kuznetsov did add a goal, taking a pass from John Carlson as he came off the bench.  Snaking his way into the right wing faceoff circle, he snapped a shot that beat Saros off the far post and in at the 17:03 mark to make it 4-2.  Arvidsson added an empty net goal for the final tally of the evening, and the Caps split their back-to-back weekend with a 5-2 loss.

Other stuff…

-- One just wonders what the object of the exercise is with the bye week.  The Caps played back-to-back games on the first weekend of February and had back-to-back games in each of the last two weekends, including this one.  The Caps went 3-2-1 in the six games, sweeping the first BtB, losing both in the second (one a Gimmick loss), and split this weekend.

-- Alex Ovechkin is either bored, ill, tired, or injured.  What he does not seem to be at the moment is fully engaged.  He was held without a shot on goal for the second time in three games and for the third time in seven contests.  It was his second consecutive road game without a shot on goal.  Taking a pair of minor penalties did not help the cause, either.

-- Jay Beagle had a point, and the Caps lost.  That does not happen often.  The Caps are 19-2-1 this season and  65-7-7 in games over his career in which Beagle recorded a point.

-- The Caps had 26 shots on goal…John Carlson had 10 of them.  He is just the fifth defenseman in Caps history to record ten shots in a game.  Kevin Hatcher (four times), Scott Stevens, Al Iafrate, and Mike Green are the others.  Green was the last to do it, recording ten shots in a 3-2 Gimmick loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 24, 2009.  The odd thing about it is that the Caps are just 2-4-1 with one tie in the eight games in which a defenseman recorded ten or more shots.

-- Four Caps did not have a shot attempt: Brett Connolly, Riley Barber, Daniel Winnik, and Nate Schmidt. 

-- Barber had a blank line on the score sheet in 7:52 of ice time; Schmidt’s was blank in 18:14 of ice time save for two takeaways.  Zach Sanford’s was blank in 9:36 except for one shot attempt that was blocked

-- Philipp Grubauer allowed four goals for the first time since he allowed four in Carolina against the Hurricanes in a 5-1 loss last November 12th.

-- Only nine Caps recorded shots on goal, the re-engineered top line of Ovechkin, Connolly, and Nicklas Backstrom had just two, both by Backstrom.

-- Washington had only one power play chance, that being unsuccessful.  The Caps are 4-3-1 in the eight games this season in which they had one or no power play chances.

-- Nashville had two power play goals in four chances, the first time this season that the Caps allowed two power play goals on the road.

In the end…

Since the bye week ended, the Caps have played five games in eight days.  Today, that and the spate of injuries they suffered recently caught up with them.  Two days off before they take the ice against the Rangers in New York might look better than that whole bye week at the moment.  In that context, it is hard to get bent out of shape about this loss, especially since they were an overturned Alex Ovechkin goal and a missed open net from making a game of this in the third period.  It was a game to just set aside and forget, and just get rested and ready for the next one.

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