Tough Way To Lose – Washington earned a point by virtue of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, but Ryan Callahan’s game-winner in the shootout was a tough one to swallow.
Just after Alex Ovechkin extended Washington’s life in the shootout and forced a fourth round, Callahan rang a wrist shot off the crossbar behind Caps netminder Jose Theodore. The puck caromed down to the ice, between Theodore’s legs and clicked off the backside of his goalie stick before bouncing into the net. On-ice officials immediately signaled a goal while Theodore waved his arms with his palms down as if to indicate that the goal should not count.
After the game, Theodore indicated that he though the play was dead once the puck clinked off the post.
This was a very entertaining game, at least it was right up until the shootout started. For a game like this to be decided on a bank shot off a post is dubious, even more dubious than the standard shootout fare. We’re asking because we don’t know – is it still a goal if it were to bounce off the glass or the boards and kick into the cage off a goaltender?
During the regulation part of an NHL hockey game (still our favorite part of the contest, by the way), a shot that hits the post or the crossbar is not even considered a shot on goal. It is a missed shot. We’re not sure how a “missed shot” ends up counting as a goal in the shootout, but it shouldn’t be surprising. Nothing about the shootout in any way resembles the game most of us grew up loving.
More Late Killing – Heading into the third period, the struggling New York Rangers had enjoyed the fruits of just 19 seconds worth of power play time on the night. That changed dramatically in the first half of the final frame when the Blueshirts were the beneficiaries of five straight minor penalties to Washington that came in quick succession. Included in the bunch was a double-minor to Shoane Morrisonn that resulted in New York getting a two-man advantage for 36 seconds.
With the five minors, Washington was shorthanded for 8:51 of the third period and was down two men for 36 seconds of that stretch. For the second straight game, the Capitals’ penalty killing corps came up huge and earned a point for the club.
On Saturday against the Panthers, Washington was able to navigate its way through a five-minute major whistled on Morrisonn with 5:01 remaining while clinging to a 2-1 lead. That major penalty also created a two-man advantage for the Panthers that lasted for more than a minute. Washington allowed just one shot on goal in the final five minutes of the Florida game, blocking seven shots over the same span and coming away with a 3-1 win.
Tonight in New York, the Caps killed off nearly nine minutes of shorthanded ice time in the third period without incident. The Rangers fired six power play shots on goal in the third, but Theodore and the Caps had the answer to all of them.
Seven Up – For the seventh consecutive game, Caps defenseman Mike Green scored a goal on Wednesday against the Rangers. For the second straight game, Green scored a pair of goals.
Green is now the co-holder of the NHL record for most consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman. He matched the mark of seven set by Boston’s Mike O’Connell in 1984.
Twenty – Green’s first goal of the night was also his 20th of the season. He joins Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin as the third member of the Capitals to reach that plateau this season.
Green is the first Caps defenseman to score 20 goals in a season since Sergei Gonchar netted 26 in 2001-02. Green’s 2008-09 season is the 11th 20-goal campaign by a Caps defenseman in team history.
Green joins Gonchar (twice), Kevin Hatcher (twice), Larry Murphy (twice), Al Iafrate, Sylvain Cote, Robert Picard and Scott Stevens among Caps defensemen score 20 goals in a season. Hatcher holds the club record for blueliners with 34 goals in 1992-93.
Two-Man Trouble -- Wednesday marked the sixth straight game in which Washington’s opponent was the beneficiary of a two-man advantage.
For the season, Capitals opponents have had 27 two-man advantages totaling 22:43. They’ve scored on nine of those 27 opportunities. Washington has had just 10 two-man advantage chances of its own, totaling exactly 10 minutes. The Caps have clicked twice in those 10 opportunities.
Go With The Flow – The Caps and Rangers went nearly seven minutes without a whistle early in the second period of Wednesday’s game. A frozen puck resulted in a face-off in Washington’s end just 14 seconds into the frame, but the two teams then skated for 6:54 without a whistle until the Rangers iced the puck at 7:08.
Tilt No. 201 – At the 2:43 mark of the first period, veteran Caps left wing Donald Brashear dropped the mitts and fought with New York’s Colton Orr. It was the 201st fighting major of Brashear’s career.
Tonight’s Brashear-Orr scrap marked the sixth time the two men have dropped the gloves and squared off. This is Orr’s fourth season in the league, and he has gone with Brashear at least once in each of those campaigns. Tonight’s bout marked the first time this season the two have tussled.
Wednesday Night at the Fights – For just the fourth time this season, the Caps had multiple fights in the same game tonight. Just three seconds after the dust settled from the Brashear-Orr bout, the Caps’ Matt Bradley squared off with the Rangers’ Aaron Voros.
The last time the Caps had more than one fight in a game was the last time they took on the Rangers. That was on Jan. 3 at Verizon Center when Washington’s Chris Clark went with New York’s Wade Redden and the Caps’ Alexander Semin fought with the Rangers’ Marc Staal.
Washington’s Dec. 20 visit to Philadelphia featured three fights as did the season opener in Atlanta on Oct. 10.
No. 83 –Jay Beagle’s NHL debut here tonight was a successful one. He did all the things he does well at the AHL level – he fought through checks, kept his feet along the walls and in the corners and was generally a difficult guy to play against. He has good strength along the wall and in the corners down low, and is adept at protecting and cycling the puck.
Beagle skated 7:41, registering three shots on goal, two hits and two takeaways. He was 2-for-7 (29%) in the face-off circle. On his first NHL shift, both of his linemates wound up in the penalty box for fighting.
Beagle logged 7:00 of his ice time in the first two periods, and just 41 seconds in two third period shifts. Washington’s continuous penalty trouble in the final frame prevented Caps coach Bruce Boudreau from rolling four lines at that point.
No. 21 – At the end of the first period, a few Rangers fans approached Caps GM George McPhee in the press box, which is situated in the midst of the seats here at MSG. One of the fans produced a pen and then unfurled an old school Rangers sweater with the No. 21 and the name “McPhee” emblazoned on the back. George obliged and signed, then shook hands and chatted briefly with the fans.
Offensive Deluge – Coming into tonight’s game, the Rangers were struggling offensively. New York had just five goals in its last five games, leading to a season-long five-game losing streak (0-4-1). The Rangers woke up and netted four goals in the game’s first 40 minutes.
New York’s power play is still struggling, however. The Blueshirts were 1-for-17 in their previous six games with the extra man, but their power play group missed out on a chance to win the game in the third. New York is now 1-for-23 (4.3%) with the extra man in its last seven games.
Down on the Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears hosted the Hamilton Bulldogs on Wednesday night at Giant Center.
The Bears’ Graham Mink started the scoring early in the first when he netted his 20th of the season, marking the fifth time he has reached that plateau at the AHL level. Alexandre Giroux and Keith Aucoin collected the assists. After the Bulldogs evened it up shortly thereafter, Kyle Wilson tallied his 21st of the season to restore the Bears’ one-goal lead. Quintin Laing registered the lone assist on Wilson’s goal.
Hamilton tallied twice in the second period to take a 3-2 lead heading into the game’s final 20.
Ryan White’s power play goal midway through the third pushed Hamilton’s lead to 4-2 and that’s how it ended. Bears goaltender Daren Machesney stopped 19 of 23 shots on the night.
The Bears still hold a five-point lead over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL’s East Division standings.
1 - 0 NYR
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 WSH
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 WSH
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 NYR