A season in decline continued its downward trajectory, with a deflating 4-3 overtime loss to division rival, Carolina. This loss particularly stings, as the Caps squandered a two-goal second period lead to one of the NHL's lower-tier teams and lost out on a much-needed standings point. The loss leaves Washington in 9th place in the conference, two points behind Winnipeg for the eighth spot and four points behind Florida for the division lead.
Ten more notes on the game:
- The Caps really needed to win this game, especially after going up two goals at home to a team out of the playoff picture. The culprit for the meltdown? The usual assortment of breakdowns, average-but-not-stellar goaltending and the inability to bury their scoring chances. Basically the same problems that has plagued them all year.
- On a night when the Caps entered the contest without having scored a goal in two games, it was Troy Brouwer who ended the 125:59 drought with a beautiful backhand wrap-around goal early in the first period.
- On the flip side, it was Brouwer who didn't back-check hard enough on the Canes first goal, allowing Jiri Tlutsy an easy tap-in, launching the Canes comeback and indirectly summarizing the Caps season-to-date: One step forward, one step back, zero progress made.
- Forward Jay Beagle had a whale of a game, scoring a goal, going +2 and just missing a second goal on a period-ending breakway that didn't count as it occurred half-a-second after the buzzer. It was also the first Caps goal scored by someone not named Brouwer or Ovechkin in four games. Overall, it was a great performance by The Hardest Working Capital. If he keeps this up he may find himself on the Caps all-time list of hardest workers, right up there with Kelly Miller, Dale Hunter, Doug Jarvis and Steve Konowalchuk.
- Really difficult to blame Michal Neuvirth for the loss, but at the same time, the Caps need exceptional goaltending to win games. Carolina got it tonight from Cam Ward, the Caps didn't get it from Neuvy.
- A lot of fuss was made about Dale Hunter line-matching so much that it kept big guns like Ovechkin off the ice too much during Sunday's Flyers loss. Not tonight. Ovi played 20:02, Mike Green logged 25:14 and Dennis Wideman skated 23:27. That said, Alex Semin only skated 16:43, fourteen seconds less than Matt Hendricks. (Confused yet?)
- Gotta love Dmitry Orlov getting fired up after Jeff Skinner took a run at him. Gotta hate the fact that he took 12 minutes in penalties, put his team on the PK and ruined the defensive pairings. Learn fast, young man.
- It's rare that the Hunter era Caps outshoot a team by 13 SOG, which is exactly what happened tonight as the Caps racked up 49 shots. Would have been nice to come out of this with two points, huh?
- Looking for another disappointing stat? The Canes out-dueled the Caps in the face-off circle, winning 62% of their draws. Mind you, the Canes are not a good face-off team. Make of that what you want.
- Ever wonder why you don't pair two offensive defensemen together? See Wideman, Dennis and Green, Mike. Both were on the ice (and at fault) for the last two Canes goals. Both were consistently overcommitting themselves and getting caught behind the play. Never. Ever. Pair. Them. Again.
This lost point is going to haunt the Caps, as the schedule ahead does not get any easier. The Caps play nine of their last 16 games on the road, a majority of which are against playoff-caliber teams. If the Caps struggle at home against lower-quality teams, it certainly doesn't bode well for their ability to climb back into the playoff race. Godspeed, Nicklas Backstrom. And you too George McPhee.