The Western Conference has never been particularly nice to the Washington Capitals, who hit the road to take on the Dallas Stars for the first time since December 2010. It all came down to who made fewer mistakes, and that team was the Stars, who won 2-1.
Alex Ovechkin put the Caps on the board first with a power play goal early in the first period, keeping the streak alive for the moment. Eric Cole, assisted by former Bruin Tyler Seguin, tied the game for Dallas four minutes later. Nicklas Backstrom interfered with goalie Kari Lehtonen on a scoring play, negating a potential go-ahead goal. Alex Chiasson’s goal midway through the second period was all the lead the Stars needed to win. Despite a late power play in the waning seconds of the third, the Capitals were unable to convert, moving to 1-2-0 on the season.
- Turnovers were a major problem for the Capitals tonight. Guys were a little lazy with their sticks, and passing was not up to par.
- Steve Oleksy, who made his season debut in Dallas tonight, and playing on his off-side (right-handed, playing on the left side) adjusted well to the change. He started the game paired with rookie Connor Carrick, also saw ice time with John Carlson and John Erskine. Don’t look for Oleksy to be a long-term fix on the left side though. Adam Oates prefers lefty defensemen on the left side. My bet is Alexander Urbom sees some time there on Thursday.
- Eric Fehr is adjusting well to his new role at center, winning 8 of 11 ( 73%) of his faceoffs tonight.
- Martin Erat finished the night with less than 10 minutes of ice time, playing on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson. That’s not a good stat for a legitimate top-6 forward. It’s hard to tell if this is a case of Oates just not knowing where to put Erat, or if he’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff for whatever reason. George McPhee said he doesn’t like to pay a fourth-liner more than $1 million a year. Erat makes $4.5M/yr till 2015. If he can’t find a place on the top-6 in Washington, maybe it’s time to think about finding a better fit for him elsewhere.
- Braden Holtby bounced back from his rough outing on Thursday night, where he allowed 3 goals on 11 shots. He made 19 of 21 saves tonight against Dallas.