Wednesday, 30 January 2013

If Hockey Were A 40 Minute Game: Caps Lose 3-2 in Ottawa

After a big win on Sunday against the Sabres, the Capitals looked to keep it going last night in Ottawa.  The Senators came into the game with a 3-1-1 record including wins over Winnipeg and Florida (twice) and losses to Tampa and Pittsburgh (shootout).  The goalie matchup posed to be a good one with Michal Neuvirth coming off his (and the Caps) first win of the season and Craig Anderson playing solid hockey between the pipes for Ottawa.

Neuvirth vs. Anderson
The first period of the game belonged to the Capitals who controlled to puck for a majority of the time, controlling the pace of the game. They were rewarded at the 13:15 mark when Brouwer scored the game's first goal on a nice backhand.  Then a little over 4 minutes later, the Wagon himself, Matt Hendricks tipped one in off of a Beagle shot. This gave the Caps a 2-0 advantage at the end of the first frame.

The second period saw a lot of the same. There was a little more back and forth but it was a solid defensive period by both teams.  Then with a minute and a half to play, Ottawa got a goal back when Tim O'Brien broke through two Caps defenders and finished off a pass from Condra.  This gave Ottawa a small bit of momentum going into the locker room after 40 minutes.

Two minutes into the final period they got most of the momentum back when Milan Michalek scored off of face-off in the Caps defensive zone.  The shot was a soft backhand that should have been an easy save for Neuvy but it found its way to the back of the net and tied the game at 2 goals.

Ottawa controlled the third period, plain and simple. The Capitals seemed to do the opposite of what they did in the first two periods and that, plus a late Joel Ward penalty, gave them the perfect opportunity to steal the win.  On the aforementioned power play, Gonchar was able to put one past Neuvirth and complete the Senators comeback.

This was a tough loss for the Caps. They basically did everything right for 40 38 minutes of the game and seemed to be in control. However the minor mistakes that they did make ended up costing them the precious 2 points. If hockey was a 40 minute game, the Capitals would have had this one in the bag. But its not. The late goal in the second period, the momentary laps on the face-off early in the third, and the late penalty keep the door open for the Senators. Never mind that the officiating was horrendous (scandalous?). Even with all of the bad calls, the Caps had a chance to put this game away and just couldn't do it.  This is where we need Ovechkin and the big name players to step up and keep this team energized.

On the bright side, it seems like they are adjusting to the new system and starting to bring back the natural and passionate play that we expect from them.  If they can keep there heads up and maintain the style of play  that they did for the first two periods, they will win a lot of games this season.  Personally I am giving them one or two more games to fully adjust before they need to kick into gear and just win. Easier said then done but at this point they need to realize that the season is already an eighth of the way over and they are way behind.

It's time to bring winning back to Washington.

As always, Lets Go Caps!!

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