A rough run in Raleigh put a damper on a road trip that had started off on such a positive note. So the Caps headed into Columbus tonight looking to shake off their lopsided performance against the ‘Canes and get back in the win column. A boring game turned exciting as time ticked away,
Check back for our full recap later, but first, here's Tuesday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: How about the Caps penalty kill, not only taking care of business against the League’s best power play but getting a couple of shorthanded chances in their own right?
- Minus: Holy moly, that was a boring game... until it wasn’t.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- The Caps and Jackets came into tonight’s game tied with 16 first-period goals apiece, second-most in the League. And yet after a rather snoozeworthy opening twenty minutes, there was nothing happening, save for a handful of shots on net for each team and a boatload of icing calls. Fun to watch? Perhaps not, but a when you’re the road team you’re not interested in making it fun to watch.
- It took about 35 minutes, but the 0-0 tie was finally broken by Nicklas Backstrom in the second period. Nice job by Backstrom to pick up a Brooks Orpik clearing pass, carry it all the way up ice and somehow fight every natural instinct and inclination he has to actually shoot the puck instead of passing it.
- Fresh off a lopsided loss in Raleigh, Philipp Grubauer was back between the pipes for a second-straight start - the first time anyone other than Braden Holtby has appeared in two in a row since Jaroslav Halak was briefly roaming the Caps’ crease. He wasn’t bad against the ‘Canes, but he (and the team) needed a much better outing this time around.
- Sadly it wouldn’t be a shutout, as with just over six minutes to go, Zack Werenski fired one from the point to knot the game up at one. A player as good as Werenski probably shouldn’t be left as open as he was, with all of the Caps crowded on the opposite side of the ice until it was too late.
- The Caps almost - almost - had the quick response goal to regain the lead less than a minute later, as Backstrom and friends descended on Bobrovsky’s crease to poke home a rebound. Sadly the coach’s challenge, and everyone’s favorite “offside” call, reared it’s ugly head and perhaps changed the tone of the game. It was the “right” call but it wasn’t a “good” one, and frankly the coach’s challenge (and John Tortorella) can go to h-.... ahem.
- So far this year, the Blue Jackets have had the best power play in the League, clicking at just over 33%. As mentioned above, however, the Caps’ penalty killers were more than up to the task, and even generated a couple of chances the other way, with Matt Niskanen bouncing one off the post and Jay Beagle drawing a penalty of his own on a second chance.
- Good thing that PK is clicking, because the power play is doing anything but. Just ugly.
- So the big story out of practice yesterday was the shuffled lines, which (among other things) put Jay Beagle on the top line. The theory behind it is a nice one, that the will matches the skill, blah blah blah… it just doesn’t work. It makes it incredibly easy for teams to shut Alex Ovechkin down and drags down the top line’s ability to generate much offense. The one line that was working was the Marcus Johnasson - Backstrom - T.J. Oshie trio, which was responsible for most of the scoring chances tonight.
- The Caps controlled much of the first two periods, particularly after Backstrom’s goal, but failed to do what they’ve actually been pretty good at doing in the past - hold the lead late. They let Columbus get back in the game late, let them tie it up, let them carry momentum from an overturned Caps’ goal...
- ...and ultimately fell in overtime less than a minute in. That’s really not ideal, and it’s not what we’ve come to expect from this team.
So… let’s put the lines back for Pittsburgh, eh, Barry? Please? Pretty please?