Alex Ovechkin became the Capitals' franchise leading point scorer on home ice but the celebrations were ruined by the visiting Flames' late comeback. Markus Granlund tied the game with five minutes to play and Sean Monahan ended it with forty-three seconds to go in overtime, dropping the Capitals to winless in their last five games. Braden Holtby wasn't good enough once again, outdeuled by Jonas Hiller, and the Capitals continue to slump early in season. Barry Trotz needs to turn this group around, and he needs to do it fast.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Ovechkin tallied the 826th point of his 10 year old NHL career, passing legend Peter Bondra as the Capitals' franchise leading point scorer, with his first period assist on Nicklas Backstrom 's goal. Alex accomplished the feat in 691 games, 270 less than Bondra spent in a Capitals sweater. Congratulations Alex!
- The game's first goal was scored by Calgary, a little over nine minutes into the contest. A shot from Kris Russell was blocked in the slot and Lance Bouma beat (a lackadaisical) Mike Green to the loose puck, pushing it past Holtby's searching eyes. If the Caps are suffering because they overlook the game's details, this is Exhibit A.
- But, Backstrom responded for Washington sixty-nine seconds after the Bouma goal. A point shot from Ovechkin at the point was tipped by Backstrom in the slot and underneath Hiller. The play was made possible by an opportunistic pinch from Karl Alzner and Ovechkin covering his defensive teammate and quickly making history.
- The first goal of the second period came off the backhand of Mark Giordano halfway through the frame. The shot found its way through a maze of players including Backstrom and Brooks Orpik before sneaking past Holtby's glove hand. I think we'd all prefer to see Tom Wilson put a body on Giordano rather than commit to a shot block inside of home plate.
- But, Marcus Johansson got the Capitals tied up again, forty-three seconds after Giordano's strike, with a fluke goal eerily similar to Joel Ward's against these same Flames on October 24th. A wrist shot sent wide right took a fortuitous bounce into the blue paint and it caught Hiller moving slowly, bouncing in off of his left leg pad. The goal is Johansson's fifth of the season.
- Ward put the Capitals in the lead for the first and last time tonight with his sixth goal of the season, a 5 on 3 power play tally late in the second. After good puck movement in the offensive zone Ovechkin found Backstrom and his pass found Ward, who stuffed it around Giordano and behind Hiller's pads. Said Ward, "[I was] fortunate to get a good bounce on the side there".
- Granlund would tie the game at three goals apiece with five minutes to play, the centerman benefitting from a bounce that almost puts Johansson's to shame. Marcus attempted to clear Granlund's pass out of the slot but the puck ricochetted off of Troy Brouwer's right skate and over Holtby's left arm. A confident Verizon Center was on their hands for the rest of regulation and into overtime.
- And Monahan would ruin the evening for Washington with a late rush to the net in overtime. He skated through the slot and received a pass from Josh Jooris that he tucked over Holtby. Green lost his coverage on Monahan and ended up looking bad for the second time tonight, Exhibit B of overlooked details. The Capitals have got to be better, consistently, to become a playoff threat in the Eastern Conference.
- The recently formed trio of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Wilson had their second straight game together - Backstrom leading the three with 21:27 of ice time. Wilson seems to have found himself a fit on the top line for the moment because the group is a nuisance to deal with, especially along the boards and in the slot. Big bodies are afforded space when they have the puck and these guys have been taking advantage of the ice in the offensive zone. As long as they keep producing shots they'll be successful.
- Holtby was beaten four times on 23 shots compared to Hiller's three goals allowed on 34 Washington shots. The red hot Hiller once again stopped more than 90% of the Capitals' shots, Holtby stopping a hair under 83% of Calgary's shots - it was the difference tonight. The Capitals still need their starter to be better if they're going to gain ground in the standings and be able to make a realistic playoff push in March.
Washington falls to 2-2-3 on home ice this season and this most recent overtime loss stings much worse than those to the Montreal Canadiens or San Jose Sharks. They had the win in their grasp and let it go like they have so often in the past. As promising as Trotz hockey has appeared at times it isn't getting the job done - at least with this group. The Capitals have to respond in a big way Friday night in Chicago.