Monday, November 23, 2009

A ONE-point night: Senators 4 - Caps 3 (OT)

Can the Caps get salary cap room if they only get paid on a 40-minute a game basis?

Getting 40-minutes of production out of a 60-minute game might be attributable to the Caps playing their third game in four nights, but getting 40-minute efforts has been a problem this year. It was a problem tonight as the Caps coughed up a 3-1 third period lead to lose to the Ottawa Senators, 4-3, in overtime.

Giving up three goals after the 40-minute mark can’t be looked upon sympathetically, even if the team is playing that third game in four nights. And it wasn’t the product of the legs not being there, it was a case of brains not being there. The Caps took a 3-1 lead into the third period, but got caught on one occasion giving up inside position to a Senator (Chris Neil) that provided an opportunity to deflect a puck into the net, cutting the lead to 3-2.

Then the Senators got the tying goal after the Caps took an offensive zone penalty – a mental mistake by Alex Ovechkin going arms up into a Senator along the end boards for a roughing penalty.

And then, the Senators won it in overtime when Mike Green coughed up the puck in the neutral zone, allowing Chris Phillips to collect it along the side wall and throw it in front, where Mike Fisher deflected the puck past Semyon Varlamov for the game winner. And this was moments after Green coughed up the puck to allow a 2-on-1 that required a fantastic save by Varlamov on Jason Spezza, just to extend the action a few more seconds.

It was too bad, a sour end to a nice night for Jay Beagle, who netted his first NHL goal in the second period to give the Caps that 3-1 lead.

Other stuff…

- Mike Green – officially – had no giveaways. Nothing for those last two hiccups in overtime. No Senator was even credited with a takeaway on either play (which would have been the wrong scoring of the play). Must have been free beer night in the scorer’s lounge.

- Green had a rough night. He was on the ice for three of Ottawa’s four goals (including the game-tying and game-winning goals). Still, he was accorded the third star of the evening. It might be testimony as to how bad the rest of the club played in that third period, save for goalie Semyon Varlamov, who deserved a better fate.

- Three more third period penalties. Here are your takeaway numbers – three times in the last four games the Caps have taken three minor penalties in the third period, including tonight. In 24 games they have taken 41 minors (of 94 total) in the third period. This is a team that sorely lacks 60-minute discipline.

- The Caps were brutal on faceoffs – 6-for-17 in the offensive zone, 11-for-27 in the defensive zone. David Steckel was the only Cap with a plus-.500 night in the circle in the offensive and defensive zones (he took no offensive zone draws).

- One has to think Alex Ovechkin is still feeling the effects of his shoulder injury. Why? No power play shots on goal. Of course, part of that is that he isn’t playing in his wheel house, either. Somehow, Mike Green taking one-timers from the top of the left wing circle isn’t going to seem as intimidating to goalies as having Ovechkin take them from there.

- Shots on goal by period: Washington – 15/10/4/0… Ottawa – 8/7/18/3. The Senators had 30 shot attempts in the third period. They lived in the Caps’ zone.

- Matt Carkner and Jarkko Ruutu were the only Senators not to record a shot on goal.

- Ottawa was dropping bombs from the blue line on the power play, well, Alexandre Picard, anyway. It’s part of why they had nine power play shots on goal from six different players. Even if the shots didn’t get all the way through, they could try to stuff the trash in the can.

- Tomas Fleischmann and Brook Laich each failed to register a shot on goal. Alex Ovechkin had one shot on goal in the last 45:45. There is no hockey universe in which those are good results, if you're a Caps fan.

- 24 games, 24 games in which the Caps have held a lead. Of course, that also means that there have been 11 games (five in regulation, six in extra time) in which they have allowed that lead to slip away and not get the standings points.

- It would be hard to improve on Coach Boudreau’s summary of the game – “This was a total collapse by 20 guys.” Although we do wonder what Jose Theodore had to do with this (psst… we get what Coach was driving at).

And with the result, the Caps are now second in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh leap-frogged them with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Florida in overtime. Now that’s the cherry on a hot sludge sundae…. Or Monday.