Washington Capitals Lose To The Phoenix Coyotes – Thoughts And Reactions

The Washington Capitals broke down last night late in the third period and lost a tough one in a shootout. After scoring 3 goals in the second period, the Capitals allowed the Coyotes to sneak back into the game with 2 goals within minutes of each other. The game ended up going into overtime and then eventually a shootout. Each team had their chances in the overtime period but no winning goal was scored. The shootout was also uneventful, for the Capitals at least – 2 shooters in a row scored for the Coyotes and they would be credited with the win, 4-3. Full Game Recap Here

First Period Thoughts And Reactions

Alex Ovechkin (8) - Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Ovechkin (8) – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23)
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I think the Capitals started the game just as they wanted to – being on the road can be tough, but they came out of the gate playing well. The game went back and forth with some decent pace, and the Capitals had a few scoring chances – nothing spectacular, but they were putting pucks towards the net and knocking on the door. Their breakout from their own d-zone into the neutral and offensive zone was quick and effective – which I think was causing some of the problems for the Coyotes.

The momentum slowly started to tilt towards the Coyotes though – and then Joel Ward tripped  Rob Klinkhammer in the neutral zone and was sent to the penalty box. Shane Doan wasted no time on the power play, as he scored 22 seconds into the man-advantage for his 7th goal of the season.

Neuvirth was being screened in front of the net, he made the initial save, but then Doan snagged the rebound and calmly put the puck in the back of the net. A player right in front of the net will always cause trouble for a goaltender, and that is exactly what happened with Neuvirth on this play.

The period went on with the Coyotes dictating the rest of the play, and the Capitals were lucky to get out of the period only losing by 1 goal. The power play goal seemed to rattle the Capitals, they were fortunate enough that there was only half a period to play – they hung in their and made it to the end of the period.

Second Period Thoughts And Reactions

If it wasn’t for the 3 goals in the second period, the Caps could have been in some serious trouble. They conceded 5 minor penalties during the period, and were also down 2 men at one point – giving the Coyotes a brief 5-3 situation. The Capitals were again lucky that the Coyotes did not capitalize – as they too also went to the penalty box during the special teams extravaganza that seemed to be occurring.

John Carlson (74) Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

John Carlson (74)
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals scored their 3 goals both before and after the plethora of penalties. Troy Brouwer and John Carlson both had power play blasts that rocketed past Mike Smith. Brouwer’s goal couldn’t of happened without the fantastic pass from Mike Green – he was situated behind the Caps net and sprung Brouwer loose into the offensive zone.

Carlson was also setup nicely – Marcus Johansson got the primary assist as he patiently handled the puck on the wing and found Carlson right in the middle of the ice. Both plays involved great passes – kudos to Green and Johansson on those assists.

Joel Ward scored his 7th goal of the season after all of the penalties were killed off. Ward went hard to the net as the Caps entered the zone, and it paid off. He ended up right on the doorstep and some how the puck scurried its way right on his stick – Smith had no chance on the play. It is smart veteran plays like that which earn guys like Ward goals. It was luck that the puck ended up right in Ward’s wheel house, but it is no doubt that veteran intuition led him to the front of the net and then into perfect position to score.

Third Period Thoughts And Reactions

What can I say about the third period….it was unfortunate. The Capitals weren’t playing great hockey but they were sticking it out, and keeping their chances alive. Then the unexpected occurred – 2 quick goals from the Coyotes stunned us all. Not being able to clear the zone resulted in the first goal. The Capitals barely moved it up the half-boards, and the Coyotes pounced on the opportunity.

The Coyotes third goal was a result of an extremely unfortunate play by defenseman Nate Schmidt. He rounded the boards in the d-zone and skyed the puck right into the stands, causing a delay of game penalty. These types of plays happen to the most veteran of defenseman – trying to ricochet the puck off the glass and out of the zone.  Schmidt missed the glass and the Coyotes went to the power play with 2:01 left on the clock.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) – Martin Hanzal (11) – Shane Doan (19)
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Doan scored his second power play goal of the night, he seemed to be skating towards the side wall, but as he received the puck he corralled towards the net and put in a wicked wrist shot and beat Neuvirth. Doan was in-between two Caps players, Carlson, who was in front of him, hesitated to step towards Doan – which turned out to be a costly mistake. If Carlson stepped towards Doan more aggressively he could of had a better chance to block the puck, but it would have left Alzner all alone in front of the net with two players perched next to the crease. Either way it seems as if the Coyotes just simply exploited the penalty kill of the Caps.

Overtime And Shootout Thoughts And Reactions

Nicklas Backstrom (19) – Mike Smith (41)
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals had a shot to score the game winning goal but they couldn’t convert on a power play that started in the overtime period. Mike Green deserves some praise though, Ovechkin was guarded heavily, and he took it on himself to get pucks on net and create chances for the Capitals.

The flow of the period changed quickly after the Caps man-advantage – the Coyotes saw themselves with several chances in the dying minutes of the overtime period. No goals were scored, and a shootout ensued. I would barely call it a shootout though, at least for the Caps.

Two shooters up for the Coyotes, 2 goals on the board. Two shooters up for the Capitals, 0 goals on the board. It ended just like that, Grabovski misplayed the puck and Ovechkin completely missed the net. The Coyotes barely needed a goaltender in the net, Washington created their own downfall and Mike Smith didn’t even need to actually make a save.

Overall Thoughts And Reactions

Other than the breakdown in the third period, the Capitals played a great road game. It was a ridiculous way to lose the game. Coming out of Phoenix with 1 point is great, it was just the fashion to which it happened though. Any team in the NHL could of taken advantage of the mistakes made by the Capitals, and that is exactly what the Coyotes did, they made the Caps pay – in the worst way possible. The Coyotes snapped the winning streak of Washington, but they still have earned a point or more in each other their last 5 games – the Caps still have a great run going and need to bounce back strong against the Avalanche.

 

Topics: Washington Capitals

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