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You’d have to forgive the Caps if tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators turned into a classic let-down game. After all, they had just completed an improbable worst-to-first Southeast turnaround with their sprint up the standings and had nothing to play for in terms of seeding. The Senators, meanwhile, entered the game needing a win to secure a playoff berth and help reverse their recent drop in the standings.
The Senators did outplay the Caps, carrying the play and winning the shot battle, 39 to 20, on their way to a 2-1 playoff-clinching overtime win. The resilient Caps managed to earn a point, but they got a good bit of luck along the way. The Senators had a third period goal called off and a blatant late game punch-in-the-face penalty also not called. It would be nice if the Caps could bottle up that luck for the post-season, not a meaningless regular season game.
Ten more notes on the game:
- For those of you that didn’t watch, there are two burning questions you probably have. First, did the Caps stay healthy? Yes! Zero injuries.
- Second, did Alex Ovechkin extend his goal scoring lead? Yes! Ovi leads the Rocket Richard race by three goals, with one to play.
- Now that those questions are out of the way, it so happened that the Senators completed a season’s sweep of the Caps, playing their methodical style to perfection. The Caps may need to figure out how to solve the Sens soon, because there is still a good possibility the Sens will be the Caps first round opponent.
- In other potentially displeasing news, on Tuesday we polled readers about who they want the Caps to play in the first round and the answer was overwhelmingly the Toronto Maple Leafs. Well, the Leafs likely won’t drop below fifth place with their victory tonight so we can probably scratch that idea. Of the remaining three teams (Isles, Rangers, Senators), the Caps are only 2-5-1, with those two wins being shootout victories. Not good.
- Michal Neuvirth had a very positive outing, stopping 39 of 41 shots. That’s an impressive performance for someone who hasn’t played much lately.
- Speaking of Neuvy, assuming he doesn’t get the start on Saturday against the Bruins, he will have started 12 of the Caps 48 games (25%) this year. Ideally you would like to see your backup goalie get closer to a third of starts. Granted, that wasn’t possible due to the Caps putrid start and the circumstances of a shortened season. Let’s hope Braden Holtby doesn’t wear out if the team makes a deep run.
- Matt Hendricks took a roughing penalty at the end of the first, driving Erik Condra into the net. Needless penalty? Absolutely. Bad penalty? Debatable. A protect-the-crease roughing penalty in a relatively meaningless game against a potential playoff opponent probably won’t bother Adam Oates too much.
- Anyone notice that Troy Brouwer gets a lot of shots on net, and routinely misses high or wide. That’s typical of snipers. Remind you of anyone we used to know?
- The penalty kill finished 4-for-5 tonight with two key late game regulation kills, courtesy of Mike Ribeiro fouls. They couldn't keep the puck out of the net in the ensuing 4-on-3 that carried over into overtime; nonetheless it was still an impressive performance for the team's PK unit. Hopefully, this keeps up in the coming few weeks (the penalty kill performance, not Ribeiro’s penchant for stupid penalties).
Brush this one off quickly. One more game to go before the real fun begins!