Saturday, February 13, 2010

Caps 3 - Blues 4 (SO); A One Point Night For The Caps In Saint Louis

Well it was another less than two point night for the Washington Capitals in Saint Louis tonight, and as much as the fan in me wants to scream, it's hard to do tonight. Tonight's game was a well played game and many of the issues and mistakes that had been creeping into the Caps game these past five outings were rectified. However, Saint Louis is also playing well and their goaltender, Chris Mason came up big when he needed to; for that matter so did Jose Theodore, in fact Theo made a couple of saves in the third period and one in overtime that took the game into the shootout. If not for an unfortunate bounce in the fourth round of the shootout, who really knows how many rounds the shootout would have gone the way both Theo and Mason were playing. Alas it was not to be and in the fourth round after seeming to stop David Perron's backhand the puck came off the post and the Theo's back and went into the net. So the game ended with the Caps getting just one point.

The Caps seemed to come out with more determination than they have in the last two games. The Blues also came out with "spring to their step." Unfortunately, one of the ugly moments that occasionally occur in hockey games. At 5:52 into the game, Cam Janssen made a savage, cheap hit on Matt Bradley and took Brads out of the game. Quintin Laing came to Brads' defense while he was down. For their efforts, Laing was given 2 minutes for instigating, 2 minutes unsportsmanlike conduct (because he didn't raise his visor before Janssen swung at him); a 5 minute fighting major and a 10 minute misconduct; while Jannsen received a 5 minute major for fighting, a 5 minute major for interference, and a 1 minute Game Misconduct. As a result the Caps and Blues played 4 on 4 for four minutes. Personally, I think this set of calls along with the numerous cheap interference calls that were totally disruptive to the flow of the game were just yet another example of the horrible officiating I'm coming to expect in the NHL. In this case, there is no way the Blues shouldn't have skated a man down for at least - at least a full 2:00. Given the fact Jannsen threw the first punch before Laing could lift his visor, it's entirely possible the official could have used his leeway and not penalized Laing for either the unsportsmanlike conduct or the instigator penalty. Further in addition to the interference major, the official could have hit Jannsen with an additional minor for a number of things not the least of which would be elbowing. Bradley left the game and did not return. In the end, the Blues took advantage of this set of calls that went their way as it was them, not the Caps who scored the first goal of the game during the ensuing 4 on 4 play.

The Blues struck first at 9:13 when Patrik Berglund got a great feed from Roman Polak. It was a play made possible by horrible back checking by Tomas Fleischmann. "Flash" basically let Polak skate freely around him and then rather then picking up the guy he should have moved over to - Berglund - he was standing by himself 12 feet away from his man, when Berglund got the setup from Polak and scored his 9th goal of the season. The Caps responded just 1:27 later at the 10:40 mark when Mike Knuble scored his 22nd goal of the season on the power play. The period ended with the socre tied 1 - 1.

The second period was a good one with both goaltenders and the teams in front of them "amping it up." Blues sharpshooter T.J. Oshie broke the 1-1 tie at 10:52 of the second period when he scored his 13th goal of the season at even strength. Once again the Caps responded quickly, at 13:26, Alexander Semin scored his 30th of the year when Brendan Morrison got the puck to him after Brooks Laich battled to bring the puck into the zone and start the play. Score tied at 2-2. Then at 13:41 Tomas Fleischmann was sent off for hooking and Blues Defenseman Erik Johnson scored his 6th of the season on the resultant powerplay at the 15:23 mark to once again put the Blues up by 1. Then Blues Veteran Paul Kariya was sent off at 16:59 for Tripping and Mike Knuble got his second power play goal of the night at the 17:43 mark. The period ended Caps 3 - Blues 3.

There was no scoring in the third period thanks to some excellent goal tending by Theodore and Mason, and a solid penalty kill by the Caps during a 5 on 3 for 1:18. Both Goalies also kept the scored tied with some very good sanes through the overtime 4 on 4 play.

So the Caps go into the Olympic break with a league leading 90 points and 41-13-8 record in 62 games. That's on pace for a total of 119 points. The Caps need this break, they have a number of guys who are ding'ed up and they have a few bad habits to break themselves of during the next two weeks.

Now it's time to watch the Olympics until March 3rd...

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