Elusive 50 – Tuesday’s tilt with Ottawa was the Capitals’ third kick at the can in their bid for just the third 50-win season in franchise history. And for the third time, the Caps were denied. Ottawa got a power play goal from Alexei Kovalev with less than 20 seconds remaining in overtime to get out of town with a 5-4 overtime win.
The Caps got a point, but that’s small consolation for a team that has already sewn up the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference supremacy. Washington is getting a steady diet of points; they’ve collected at least one in nine of their last 11 games (5-3-3). What the Caps are not getting with regularity are regulation wins. They’ve managed to forge just two of those (against Florida and Tampa Bay) in their last 11 games.
Ottawa got the jump on the Caps tonight, taking a 3-1 first-period lead. Washington roared back and actually held a 4-3 third-period advantage after Mathieu Perreault’s second goal in as many games in the first minute of the final frame.
Washington could not close. Each of Ottawa’s final two goals came on the power play, as the Capitals’ beleaguered penalty killing corps lapsed into mediocrity again. Although the Caps took only four minors on the night, their discipline could be found lacking. Three of the four minors were committed in the offensive zone and the fourth was in neutral ice.
Playing at the end of a long shift, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom hauled Kovalev down in the attack zone with just over half a minute remaining.
“I was going for the puck,” says Backstrom of his overtime tripping minor. “I thought I touched the puck but it happens and they scored.”
For the second time in as many games, the Caps were nicked for five goals against.
“Well, I don’t like five goals against,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “This has happened twice in a row and we’ve got to get better. There were four pretty iffy goals out there tonight.”
Caps defenseman Tom Poti did not blame the netminding.
“We weren’t picking up the loose guys in front,” he laments. “None of those goals were his [Jose Theodore] fault. They were our fault – defensive reads and things like that.”
Senator Slayer – With his two goals in the first two periods tonight, Caps winger Alexander Semin had five goals against Ottawa in a span of just 56:47. He notched a hat trick against the Sens in Ottawa on Feb. 11 in a 6-5 loss. The first of his three goals that night came late in the second period, at the 15:17 mark of the middle frame.
Senses Working Overtime – Tonight’s game marked the 21st time in 76 games that the Capitals had to play more than 60 minutes to settle the outcome of a game. It was the seventh time in the last 11 games that the Caps have had to skate for more than 60 minutes.
Washington is 9-12 in overtime/shootout contests this season. The Caps are now 5-7 in overtime games and 4-5 in shootout contests.
This One Goes To Eleven – Semin’s first goal came on the Caps’ first shot of the game. The Caps have now scored on their first shot of the game 11 times in 76 games this season.
First Fail – For the third time in their last five games, the Capitals were outshot by exactly 13-4 in the first period of Tuesday’s game. For the fifth straight game, Washington allowed 13 or more shots in the first period of a game, something they had not done all season previously. The Caps have been outshot by a combined 69-34 in their last five first periods.
The Capitals have now been outscored by a combined 10-3 in the first period of their last five games.
In their last two games, the Caps have surrendered seven first-period goals. They allowed a total of six first-period goals in 13 October games. The Capitals surrendered a total of seven first-period goals in 14 November games.
Finally, for the second straight game, an opposing defenseman was able to drive the net down the middle of the ice unmolested and beat Caps goalie Jose Theodore for his team’s third goal of the frame. Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester (his first goal in 57 games) did the honors on Sunday. Tonight, it was the Senators’ Chris Campoli cruising down the center for his first goal in 21 games.
No Shots – The Caps were held to just 21 shots on goal, the fewest they’ve managed this season and the fewest they’ve had since getting 21 in a Nov. 22, 2008 game at San Jose.
Although the Senators outshot the Caps 31-21 on the night, the Capitals attempted 64 shots to Ottawa’s 50 on the night.
Disparity – Caps goalie Jose Theodore is now 12-2-4 on home ice and 15-5-3 on the road this season. Theodore has a 3.22 GAA and an .892 save pct. at Verizon Center this season. He has a 2.56 GAA and a .918 save pct. on the road in 2009-10.
Helping Hands –Alex Ovechkin notched his 55th assist of the season, a single-season career high. Theodore had an assist, his second of the season. Both of his helpers have come on the power play. He has 16 career assists.
Not To Worry – In the Caps’ 6-5 loss at Ottawa on Feb. 11, the Senators blocked a total of 29 Washington shots. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov led the way, blocking 11 of those 29.
Although Volchenkov was out of the lineup tonight, the Sens had no trouble getting bodies on Washington shot tries. They blocked 28 shots, with Andy Sutton pacing Ottawa with seven shot blocks.
Sutton was a member of the New York Islanders the last time the Caps and Sens met. He had six blocked shots for the Isles in a game against Washington earlier this season.
Season’s Series – The Caps finished the 2009-10 season with a 1-1-2 record against Ottawa. The Senators scored 17 goals in the four games against Washington.
Although the Senators rank 16th in the NHL with an average of 2.68 goals per game, they scored 17 times in the four games against the Capitals this season. No other team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference has averaged more goals per game against the Caps than Ottawa has in 2009-10.
Happy Birthday – To ex-Caps defenseman Jamie Heward, born on this day in 1971.
By The Numbers –David Steckel was the game’s top draw man, winning 16 of 24 (67%) … Ovechkin and Backstrom both skated over 25 minutes in the same game for the fourth time this season. The Caps are 0-1-3 in those games … The trio of Ovechkin (eight), Semin (six) and Green (five) combined to have 19 shots blocked … Jason Chimera led the Caps with five hits … Chimera’s assist on Green’s goal was the 100th helper of his NHL career.
1 - 0 OTT
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 OTT
3 - 1 OTT
3 - 2 OTT
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 WSH
4 - 4 Tie
5 - 4 OTT