A season ago, the Caps were 33-3-2 when leading after two periods and the Devils just 6-22-0 when trailing heading into the game's final regulation frame. A season ago, the Caps didn't lose their second game at the Verizon Center until December 2.
But, as we're finding out in different ways seemingly every game, that was then, this is now, as the Caps lost a 2-1 lead with just over seven-and-a-half minutes left in the third period and then dropped the game in the dreaded shootout (where's Viktor Kozlov when you... well, don't need him?).
Ten more notes on the game:
- If Jose Theodore was to blame for giving up a point (or two) to the Rangers last week, he deserves all the credit for earning the Caps a point tonight. He was brilliant - never moreso than during an overtime penalty kill - and ended up stopping 27 of 29 shots on the night. Two weeks ago, Bruce Boudreau said of his goaltending situation, "[T]he first two [goalies], will play very even over the first 30 or 40 games. And then somebody is going to take over...." Maybe he was off by a factor of ten.
- It didn't take long for Mike Knuble to mesh with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, as his go-to-the-net style created chances (including the Mike Green goal) and he even scored one on the rush from far out (for him).
- The second line, on the other hand, did not gel so easily, as the trio of Alexander Semin, Brendan Morrison and Brooks Laich had an awful night, including being on the ice for both Jersey goals.
- Speaking of the Jersey goals, Green and Tom Poti did a lot of pointing on that 3-on-2, but not much of anything else. All around ugly play.
- The Caps failed to score yet again on a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, this time 53 seconds with just two (mediocre) shots on goal for. Move, boys, move. On the plus side, 15 shots on goal on five power plays overall is a good number.
- Only two Devils - Travis Zajac and Rob Niedermayer - won a faceoff all night. On the flip side, David Steckel won 11 of the 13 draws he took.
Matt Bradley's one goal remains the only goal scored by a non-top six forward, and Green's goal was the first by a Caps defenseman this season. Not good enough (especially when you've got fourth-liners playing like Boyd Gordon is lately).
- A tale of two call-outs? Green responds with his best game of the season, Semin responds with perhaps his worst (though he did stay out of the box), including a slap shot in the shootout. Really, Sasha?
John Erskine was plus-two before leaving the game with an injury after skating just nine shifts. Kudos to the other five defensemen for finishing the game out.
- On the one hand, you've gotta admire Chris Clark for dropping the gloves in defense of a teammate. On the other hand, Milan Jurcina's a big boy and if David Clarkson wants to take a bad penalty down 2-0, let him. This little tidbit from Elliotte Friedman earlier in the day came immediately to mind:
When Bryan Murray coached in Ottawa, he had a "two-goal rule" when it came to fighting. If the Senators were up two, no one was allowed to go. He didn’t want to lose momentum. After Max Talbot’s fight with Daniel Carcillo turned a 3-0 Philly lead into a series clinching loss last year, you figure everyone would learn the lesson. But noooooooooo. Last Tuesday, Anaheim led Minnesota 3-0 when John Scott challenged George Parros. Parros accepted, and was kayoed. Andrew Brunette won it in OT for the Wild.
Those who understand: John Erskine and Darcy Hordichuk. Both skated away from fights last week when their teams were in control.
And so the losing streak reaches four games (only the second time they've lost four in a row under Boudreau, last March being the first) with the reigning President's Trophy winners coming to town Thursday. It's still early in the season, of course, but it's starting to feel as if it's getting late awfully early.