April 21, 2019

GAME 15 RE-CAP: Caps fall to Devils in shootout; More blue line injuries

The Washington Capitals started strong and took a 2-0 lead over the visiting New Jersey Devils with goals by Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera. And then they stopped shooting.

As the Caps did in the first period, the Devils scored two goals in the second. The game went to a four-round shootout and the Devils won 3-2.

Dennis "Ironman" Wideman logged 33:52 in ice time against Devils on Saturday night (Stock Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

The shot totals were extremely low with Caps at seventeen and Devils at nineteen. A combined total of thirty-six shots for sixty-five minutes of play. The Capitals fired off nine shots in the first period and then only eight over the next forty-five minutes. It is pretty tough to score goals without shooting. Alan May also wanted to see more shooting.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

“When the shots are 17-19 and both teams have six power plays, there’s not a lot going on offensively,” said Coach Boudreau while addressing media. “I thought both teams checked really hard. Sometimes you look at a score, and I think defensively there weren’t a lot of breakdowns.”

Playing back-to-back nights takes a toll, especially when the blue line is down by two key players. Mike Green and John Erskine were scratched. Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said the decision to put Brooks Laich on the blue line instead of a call-up was because Laich has done it and Bruce didn’t know till 5:50 that Erskine was out (with an undisclosed ailment and is now day-to-day). Green had just returned to ice on Friday night and was roughed up a bit.

To make matters worse for the D-Men, Roman Hamrlik received a cross-check during the game and is listed as day-to-day. Hamrlik only took three shifts in the second period and it is unclear how he was injured, however, he didn’t play in the third period or overtime.

Brooks Laich is a true team player. Laich played his first full game as a defenseman. He embraced the opportunity and led the Caps with four blocked shots and shared the top spot in shots with Chimera with three shots each. Laich explained, “They made it tough for us to get through the neutral zone. I also thought their defensemen did a great job winning battles when we dumped it in. The strength of our team should be our forecheck and we weren’t able to establish that tonight.”

Dennis Wideman gets my vote for MVP of the home-and-home series. With a depleted blue line, Wideman stepped it up and skated 27:11 in Friday’s game, which is the most ice time logged by any Caps played this season, followed up by a staggering 33:52 in Saturday’s game.

“I was starting to get a little tuckered at the end, but I think that when stuff like that happens when there’s injuries you just have to try to not push it too much, try not to get out of position, try not to get caught and conserve where you can,” said the Ironman Wideman.

Michael Neuvirth was in goal for the Caps and said after the game, “I was feeling pretty good, and I think the whole team was feeling pretty good.” Neuvy stayed sharp throughout the game, which is a challenge with low number of shots.

Captain Alex Ovechkin is frustrated and is his own worst critic. “I have opportunities to shoot the puck and score, but sometimes I make it too quick and make not good decisions.” Ovechkin led the team in hits with eleven, more than doubling Chimera with five. Alex stated, “My job is to score goals, not to make hits. The second period I had probably three chances to score but I didn’t do the right thing.”

“I think when he’s frustrated, you can see it on his face,” Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin. “When you want to take your frustration out on something he hits. It’s a talent that he has and it’s one of the things that makes him who he is. He’s a scorer that is a power forward and is physical.”

The continued hot stove topic is Alexander Semin’s play. Coach Boudreau took away playing time in New Jersey on Friday and fans expected the same result after Semin was called for tripping at only 3:06 into the game. Boudreau stood up for Alex after the game, “I thought he tried really hard. I mean, he got a penalty early, he went for the puck. That wasn’t a lazy penalty… I thought his effort overall, he tried really hard and he was engaged in the game.”

The Capitals walked away with three-out-of-four points for the home-and-home with New Jersey,  however, “It’s disappointing to have this outcome,” says Brooks Laich. “Teams are good and a two-goal lead is not safe. You have to push for that third one, try to get that third one and I think if you can get that one, then you are in control of the game.” Bruce Broudreau added, “It’s a double-edged sword.  Will you take a point? Yes. When you have a 2-0 lead, will you take a point? No. The goals that they scored were mistakes on our part. If we wouldn’t make those mistakes, it probably would have been a 2-0 game.”

GAME NOTES:

  • Shootout: Capitals shot first with Matt Hendricks, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovi beat Johan Hedberg through the five-hole.
  • Three Stars: Jason Chimera, Ryan Carter (Devils), Troy Brouwer
  • For those keeping track, the hooded played in the pre-game video was Matt Hendricks.
  • Tonight’s attendance was 18,506, the Capitals 114th consecutive sellout at Verizon Center.
  • The Capitals have an off day tomorrow and will return to the ice on Monday, Nov. 14 at 10:30 a.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
  • The new Caps Courage hats and t-shirts went on sale today and were a big hit.
  • Caps honored veterans in a special video tribute one day after Veteran’s Day which received a standing ovation from fans.

About Cheryl Nichols

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events since 2006. Cheryl has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

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