Washington had a two goal lead to defend on the road against the Phoenix Coyotes but a late frame tally from Shane Doan tied the game at three and pushed the contest into overtime. The extra five minutes weren't enough to decide the contest but the Coyotes won shortly thereafter on the strength of shootout tallies from Antoine Vermette and Mikkel Boedker. Doan paced Coyotes skaters with two goals on his five shots.
The Capitals had all the momentum in the game after successful penalty kills totaling more than five minutes in the second period put Phoenix and their fans on their heels. A quick tally from Joel Ward put the good guys up by two but goaltender Michal Neuvirth and his defense weren't up to the task against Phoenix's final push. The loss snaps Washington's four game winning streak but does push them to five straight with at least one point. That, however, won't suffice after tonight's late game letdown.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Mike Smith’s first period defensive clear with a hail-mary to the far blue line drew cheers from Coyotes fans, the eighth year pro augmenting the goaltender position within a team’s defense (or offense) this year with his highly technical stick work. Smith’s backhanded pass on the wrong side of the red line in the second period, however, saved Washington from facing a full two minute five on three disadvantage, so it's slow progress.
- Shane Doan scored the game’s first goal, the power forward corralling a loose puck in the slot and walking it around a fallen Neuvirth for the power play tally. With Karl Alzner engaged against Martin Hanzal it was John Carlson on the wrong side of the crease when Doan found the puck on his stick with space to create. He would knot the score at three with less than two minutes to play and earn Phoenix their first of two points, his snap shot from the slot eluding Neuvirth through a screen.
- Washington jumped on the scoreboard only thirty seven seconds into the second period, Troy Brouwer’s short sided slap shot sizzling over Smith’s shoulder. A strong pass from Mike Green in the defensive zone sprung Brouwer down the right wing on the power play and the winger didn't miss his mark by an inch. All three Capitals goals were scored in the second period, their strongest by far.
- The League’s #1 ranked power play unit clicked twice in the second period and gave Washington their first lead of the game. Marcus Johansson’s possession play and soft pass to Carlson high in the slot allowed the defenseman to fire a one-timed rocket over Smith’s glove hand. The tally is Carlson’s third during the Capitals’ current five game point streak.
- Brouwer's hand never touched the puck on the defensive zone faceoff that led to his Delay of Game penalty in the second but his overzealous response to the referee’s decision only made the road ahead tougher. How fitting is it that Mike Ribeiro was on the ice during this exchange between the Capitals and the stripes?
- Excellent use of the team’s Time Out by Capitals’ Coach Adam Oates, the bench boss using the break to rest his penalty kill units. Washington was whistled for five penalties in 5:07 of game time, an impressive effort by the League’s #1 penalty kill unit in the middle stanza keeping the visitors ahead by one. It would've been nice to have a breather after Lauri Korpikoski brought the Coyotes to within one in the third period but its use wasn't wasted in the second period.
- After the great shorthanded effort Joel Ward would give the Capitals their two goal lead, the puck squirting off of Rob Klinkhammer and landing in the Washington winger’s wheelhouse. With Smith still facing the slot Ward was able to whip his 7th of the season through the Phoenix keeper’s wickets. While the goal wouldn't stand as the game winner it was nice to see Ward rewarded for putting himself in the right place in the offensive zone.
- The Capitals have been plenty successful in the shootout this year but tonight's ice wasn't bouncing their way. Mikhail Grabovski's puck loss in the slot and Alex Ovechkin's missed backhand allowed the Coyotes to grab the extra point after going 2 for 2 with their shooters. If you look closely at Grabovski's fumble it appears like Smith's threatened poke check forces the stickhandling glitch.
- Neuvirth's loss drops his season stat line under .500, he of two wins and three losses in this young season. The Czech goalkeeper kept away 32 of 35 Coyotes shots and probably deserved more than a point for his performance, the shootout not reflective of his entire outing.
- Ribeiro, facing Washington for the first time since signing a four year pact with Phoenix, had a quiet evening, the League's scorekeepers rescinding the secondary assist they originally awarded Ribeiro in the first period. We can all sleep a little better tonight without having seen what Ribeiro would've tried with a shootout chance against his old mates.
The Capitals came into Glendale and squeezed out only a single point when they had both firmly in hand after forty minutes. The team crumbled under the Coyotes' late pressure, Nate Schmidt's late Delay of Game penalty exemplary of that. Doan would take advantage of the miscue and begin stealing points from Washington's grasp, the Captain leading his team to victory on home ice tonight.
The Capitals will fly to Denver tonight where they will look to shake off the third period and try to piece together a sixty minute game against Patrick Roy's league leading Colorado Avalanche. Sometimes a chance to get right back at it and right the ship is just what a team needs after a tough loss.