Coming off a wild, back-and-forth game in which defense and goaltending were four-letter words, the Caps rolled into a building that's never been kind to them and, for awhile at least, put up a good fight. Their captain was leading, their goalie was making the saves and the game was tied up. But gradually the fatigue started to show, and even a late tally from Nicklas Backstrom to shrink the lead wasn't enough to give the Caps two points.
Ten more notes on the game:
- The top line of Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble came to play right from the start tonight, with Ovechkin in particular firing on all cylinders and getting the Caps on the board with a huge power play goal. The way they were playing, the fact that they accounted for all the scoring and over half of the shots on goal (14 of 25 total) is hardly a surprise - and neither is the fact that, when the captain shows up, usually his team does, too. Would have liked to see Backstrom win that final draw, though...or not take it at all.
- Not that Alex Ovechkin's style ever gets particularly old, but there's something fresh and entertaining about watching him play in front of fans that don't get to see him that often. Instead of boos, everything Ovechkin did seemed to be followed by murmurs as the San Jose fans experienced what so many of us take for granted. Nice to know that even well into his sixth season, Ovechkin can still turn heads.
- Shorthanded goals given up in two straight games, power play goals allowed in three straight. Yeah, those are probably not streaks the Caps are interested in extending any further. On the positive side, they've extended their power play goal streak to one. Huzzah!
- Tyler Sloan had a very quietly solid game for himself, which included a few really sharp defensive plays, three blocked shots and no glaringly bad missteps in just over sixteen minutes of ice time.
- As good an evening as Sloan was having, however, Jason Chimera should never, ever, EVER try to make a fancy pass to #89 in his own zone. Or do any one of those things in isolation, really. In fact it was a pretty rough game for Chimera overall, whose play of late is quickly making those heady days of an 8-19-25 top line seem like a distant memory.
- It was an interesting night for the second line of Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson and Alexander Semin, who all seemed to get a bit too fancy and play a bit too loose with the puck - and how they emerged from this game without being credited with a giveaway is a mystery, indeed. There were a few flashes of brilliance, however (particularly when it came to Johansson dishing the puck to Semin) and they created a couple of great layup chances that ultimately went awry.
- Perhaps the five guys on the ice for San Jose's second goal were simply too busy puzzling over the extraneous 'e' in Ryane Clowe's name to put any effort into stopping him. No hits, no lift-checks, nothing whatsoever except a puck in the back of the net.
- John Carlson had a couple of missteps early (including a stumble on the power play that led to San Jose's opening tally) but did a good job recovering, and did a relatively good job of making a dangerous Patrick Marleau seem slightly less so.
- By the third period the weariness of playing two games in two nights - particularly after a game like last night's - started to show and for most of the final frame it looked like the Caps were barely hanging on, giving up more chances and hoping Michal Neuvirth would bail them out.
- Weird stat of the night: Dave Steckel and Semin took (and lost) exactly the same number of faceoffs...one.
So the Caps fall to 1-2 on the road trip and make their way back to the friendly(ish) confines of the East, hoping to pull out a couple of wins against some conference rivals. And as they wing their way back to the correct time zone, there are some positives to take out of this three game swing even if only two points come with them.
The top line seems to be rejuvenated once more, and the work ethic throughout the lineup is slowly returning. The effort is there, if sporadic at times, and a (hopefully) healthy Mike Green will be a welcome addition. They'll need all the help they can get, as they face another back-to-back situation in just a few days. Rest up, boys.