For the second time in two games, the Caps ended up on the wrong side of a see-saw affair after dropping a second-consecutive home overtime loss, this time to a chippy Columbus team. The loss in the standings, however, is potentially trivial as compared to the loss of the two-time reigning League MVP, Alex Ovechkin, who left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury (left shoulder?), presumably suffered on what looked like a fairly innocent collision with the Jackets' Raffi Torres.
The game itself was pretty standard fare for the Caps of late - stretches of hard work, flashes of high-skill, some brain cramps, and a result that was anyone's guess up until the end (discounting the empty-netter against Philly, the Caps have now played seven consecutive one-goal games, and eleven of their last dozen have been single-goal affairs). The effort concluded a four-games-in-six-nights stretch by a team that iced more than a couple of players who were clearly not 100% healthy, and, at times, it showed. But it's another point in the standings and the team will welcome the chance to catch its breath a bit this week.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Mike Knuble's neutral zone slashing penalty with 2:24 left and a one-goal lead was Alexander Semin-esque, but probably was only the second-dumbest Caps' penalty on the night, behind Brian Pothier's utterly unnecessary overtime interference.
- Speaking of Semin, he had six shots on goal in the game's first 22:01... and none thereafter. Remind me again which Alex didn't play most of the second and all of the third.
- You've got to feel a bit for Jose Theodore, who was victimized by two hard-luck plays that resulted in Columbus goals (one bad bounce off the end boards and a wrap-around on which the knob of his stick got stuck in the net on the other side of the goal).
- With Mike Green apparently a game-time decision due to a lower-body injury (one that may have in part explained why he was beaten so badly by Rick Nash on the Jackets' superstar's) tally, it was a somewhat curious decision by Bruce Boudreau to play Quintin Laing over Tyler Sloan. Did the move pay off? Well, Laing did score the goal that put the Caps up 4-3... but he was also on the ice for both Columbus power play goals.
- Back to Knuble, he had a brilliant shift on an early third period penalty kill, followed up by a terrific screen on Brooks Laich's second goal of the game. Both were a joy to watch...
- As was Laich's game, elevated after the loss of Ovechkin and after he noted in a second intermission interview that "it's a big hole, but I still think we have a very good hockey team." Brendan Morrison also deserves praise for his effort.
Nicklas Backstrom must be feeling better - he scored a goal on which he deserved a tertiary assist for his behind the back pass to Semin, and he won 53% of his 19 faceoffs. But you've got to wonder why he was out there for the defensive zone draw moments before the first Torres goal.
- Not only is Sean Avery a world-class tool, but he's also just flat-out wrong - Ken Hitchcock's got Gabby by at least 25 pounds.
- I have no idea what Jeff Schultz was doing when he didn't slide to his right to pick up a streaking Jakub Voracek (who had to be slashed by Knuble) late in the second.
- The Caps didn't lose their fourth home game of the last season until January 13, but have now already four of eight at the V.C. this season.
And so it's "wait and see" on Ovechkin (Tuesday, earliest), and it's "wait and see" on the team as well - wait for a complete, sixty-minute effort from 18 skaters and you'll see one every week or so... and they're due for another one pretty soon.