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The Caps came into their contest with the St. Louis Blues looking to clinch their second Presidents Trophy in franchise history as the team with the league’s top overall record. That celebration will have to wait, though, as the Blues put up three goals in the second period, then coasted through the third period to win going away.
Here's Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: The first period. The Caps have come out listless at the start of games on more occasions than we might like. Against the Blues, they had a 23-15 advantage in shot attempts at 5-on-5 in the first period. It did not pay dividends, but it was welcome to see nonetheless.
- Minus: Defensive breakdowns. There were few of them, but when they occurred, the Blues pounced. Leaving opponents uncontested in the low slot is generally a recipe for misfortune, and the Caps paid for their wandering attention.
Ten more notes on the game:
- The Caps had the edge in shot attempts in the first period, but the Blues had the early advantage in the second period. It paid dividends for the visitors when the Caps lost Kyle Brodziak at the top of the blue paint to tap in a rebound of a David Backes shot.
- Not satisfied with leaving Brodziak all alone for a tap-in, the Caps would do it again with a far more dangerous weapon shaking loose. Vladimir Tarasenko left Matt Niskanen looking around and about as he backed off into the low slot to take a pass from Jori Lehtera for as easy a goal as he is likely to get.
- About those shot attempts in the first period. The Caps recorded 24, half of the total (48) they had in 65 minutes against the New Jersey Devils in their 1-0 win on Friday night. They matched that total from the Devils’ game after just two periods.
- The Caps’ defense in the second period was poor, but it doesn’t help when one of the goals is subjected to what should have been a successful challenge for offsides. It looked as if on the Colton Parayko goal, the Blues’ second of the period, that Jaden Schwarz’ trailing foot was above the ice, and his leading foot was over the blue line and in the offensive zone before the puck, thus "offside." The linesmen reviewing the play did not see it that way, though, and the "iPad" goal was upheld. Let’s hear it for technology.
- Missing T.J. Oshie to flu-like symptoms (which might be to the flu as "cheese food" is to cheese) had subtle effects on the lineup. Justin Williams opened on the top line, which, when all the slots were then accounted for among the forwards, made for a fourth line that had Mike Richards, Daniel Winnik, and Stanislav Galiev. That trio managed only two shot attempts for the game, both by Galiev. And the second line of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, and Marcus Johansson looked too often like three passers in search of a shooter.
- Meanwhile, that top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Williams pumped 22 shot attempts at the St. Louis net, 12 of them on goal. Volume-wise, you would be a bit picky if you thought that was insufficient.
- No Capital finished over 50 percent on faceoffs. Richards, Williams, and Evgeny Kuznetsov split the draws they took; Backstrom and Jay Beagle finished under 50 percent.
- The Caps held the Blues without a power play opportunity, the first time the Caps did not face a shorthanded situation this season and the first time they did so since denying the Boston Bruins a power play chance in Game 81 last season (a 3-0 Caps win).
- The Caps were shutout for just the third time this season and for the first time on home ice since the San Jose Sharks blanked them, 5-0, in Game 2 back on October 13th.
- Philipp Grubauer has been generally very good after a slow start to this season, but in his last two starts he has allowed eight goals on 56 shots (.857 save percentage). He bears no responsibility for the two goals scored from the top of the paint with no defender in sight, but the Colton Parayko goal under his pads was an eye-roller.
And now, this...