What’s the best way for the Caps to overcome three ugly and disenchanting losses to open the season? How about going down a pair of goals after two periods and then watching your opponent, seemingly with the game in hand, melt down, take five third period penalties, and allow your fatigued team to tie the game with two goals in the last eight minutes? Would any Caps fan have envisioned a script like that?
When all was said and done, the Caps did lose the game in overtime, 3-2, to the New Jersey Devils in Newark. But the Caps gained what, at one point in the night, was thought to be an improbable point. And while they remain winless on the season, their gutsy comeback in the third period may be the spark needed to wake the team from its early season doldrums.
Ten more notes on the game:
- So let’s get this out of the way. Ovi moved back to LW, but demoted to play with fourth line players? Bold. Poti and Hamrlik benched? Interesting. Erskine and Fehr in? Okay, message sent: play better, no exceptions. As expected, the first ten minutes of the game the Caps came out pumped and carried the play. Regrettably they got nothing in the net, despite some prime chances.
- But...props to the boys for not giving up on this game while down two goals late in the third! And props to the Ribeiro-Ward combination for getting the rally started and continuing to be the Caps offensive lifeblood
- Your Caps MVP for the night is none other than Michal Neuvirth. He finished 32 for 35 playing in front of what continues to be a mistake-prone defense and helped the team salvage its first point of the year.
- There was an Alex Ovechkin sighting in the first period. He set up Mike Green for an open look right in the slot early in the game, which Green couldn’t finish. Not sure if Ovi played after that…if he did, no one noticed. (Well, I guess folks noticed the toe pick late in overtime that led to an odd-man break for the Devils, and, ultimately, their game-winning goal.)
- Mike Green, on the other hand, reminded us of the old days. He created chances, he scored goals, he set people up. And then he got hurt. Feels like 2010 all over again!
- If the Caps are going to insist on playing horribly at even strength, then they need to punish teams on the power play. Going 1-for-8 on the PP – with your only goal being on a 5-on-3 – isn’t the way to do that.
- Before we throw Tomas Kundratek under the bus for getting turned inside out by Jacob Josefson on the Devils first goal, let’s also not forget that it was John Carlson who unnecessarily got caught up ice and left Kundratek alone. One’s a borderline NHLer; the other is a cornerstone of this franchise. You can decide who deserves more blame. On that same sequence, you can argue that Michal Neuvirth shouldn’t be at fault, since it was essentially a mini-breakway that Gionta scored on. But Neuvy left his five hole wide open and when he sees it on film he’ll want that goal back. That sequence has been a microsm of this short season: a short burst of mistakes committed by numerous Caps players leading to unnecessary goals against.
- That first penalty on Jay Beagle in the first period (for holding)? That’s one of those tick-tack calls that you chalk up to early season enforcement of rules. No way that gets called late in the year or in the playoffs. That John Carlson interference penalty? That call is here to stay (as it should).
- Remember that blurb from above about too many short bursts of mistakes killing the Caps? Taking two questionable penalties 20 seconds apart is another example. That second period set of gaffes led to a 5-on-3 for Jersey, which they scored on and took a two-goal lead.
- Troy Brouwer wasn’t happy with the team’s performance last night against the Habs. So Troy set an example for the team tonight, with 0 points, 1 shot, 2 hits and finishing -1 in 22+ minutes of action.
Hopefully the Caps can build on their third period comeback and begin the chore of turning the season around. Granted, the Devils assisted them with a poorly played, undisciplined third period, but, honestly, who cares? Salvaging a point on the road against one of the better Eastern Conference teams isn’t a bad thing, especially since it seemed like the Caps were staring down another deflating loss. Let’s see how they come out Sunday against the Sabres.