Not much to say about this one, the zebras were in their own world tonight, calling off goals and sending Caps to the box at every whistle. Washington ended up with twenty-two penalty minutes (including a ten minute game misconduct,) and only managed one power play of their own. Plenty of cheap penalties called, but I’m not exactly blaming the refs for being biased. The Caps played well to start, but I didn’t see any missed calls against Ottawa. Later on, the Caps would be lucky they weren’t whistled for another when Steve Oleksy awesomely punched a Senator in the face. If called, Ottawa would have been on a two-man advantage.
It seemed that the Caps were content just to battle tonight. Give credit to Ottawa for staying true to their defensive identity, but the Caps just didn’t have the same kind of jump that they possessed on Tuesday night. An emotional letdown is to be expected after a game like Tuesday’s, however, championship teams don’t adhere to those rules. It’s troubling that Ottawa seems to have Washington’s offense on lockdown, because they are still a likely first round opponent. Ovie had another phenomenal goal in this one, though, and that was the only positive that came out of tonight’s game for Washington.
Unless you want to put an asterisk by Neuvirth’s great game. I don’t mean to downplay his performance, it’s just that backup goaltenders drift further into the shadows come playoff time. He did his job and then some tonight, stopping thirty-nine shots and playing more than well enough to steal one for the Caps. Ottawa’s first goal was a fantastic deflection in front of the net, one which gave Neuvy no chance. Our old friend Sergei Gonchar bombed one from the point in overtime, and it moved too quickly past too many people for Neuvirth to keep tabs on it. Hard to fault him for either. It’s too bad that his players in front of him appeared more focused on roughing up the Senators instead.
The penalty kill unit looked like it continued to approve tonight against Ottawa’s mediocre power play. Erik Karlsson being out had a lot to do with the mediocrity, and Ottawa obviously benefited from having him back, as he was blasting shots from all over and ended with assists on both goals tonight. The Caps were perfect on the penalty kill until overtime, at which point I feel like every D.C. fan should’ve known that the good times were ending. Washington took way too many penalties. Every team in the NHL will score on a man advantage if you give them enough looks. Ribeiro seemed pretty cranky tonight, and it cost the team as it has cost them before.
The Caps pick up a meaningless point, and Caps fans pick up a small pit in their stomach. One regular season game left against Boston on Saturday. D.C. is going to have to generate more power plays they have in the last two games (two total) if it wants to shush the whispers about it not being able to hang with playoff teams. Boston will be a great test and a great refresher course on playoff hockey for the Caps. Let’s head into the playoffs the right way… gulp.