Well, a game that looked pretty good, superficially, for the Caps tonight. They got great netminding from Neuvirth, no doubt. And 3-0 feels a lot better when you're not on the zero end of things.
But most of the same thing continued. Very few shots (fewer than last night, actually), too many giveaways (it didn't feel like it, but there were even more than last night), way too many penalties (though a couple were kind of... curious, but I'll come back to that). The one mitigating factor was that at least scoring chances were in their favor through two (11-9).
But, basically, we saw almost the same performance except that a couple of shots went in.
Ok, that's not entirely true, the passing was crisper, and more accurate. The penalty killing was also a lot more effective, though that could be as much due to Montreal's deficiencies as to the Caps efficiencies. The power play also managed to convert one opportunity (though it took most of a four-minute advantage). But it was still mostly the same as we've seen recently, and that's not a good thing.
The lineup was not entirely the same tonight. Perreault came back into the lineup, scoring a goal despite playing only eight shifts (two of which were very short; nhl.com doesn't even list him as having played, despite crediting him with the goal). Erskine was also back, as expected. Not so expected was that he never dished out any punishment on Bourque.
In fact, the only "punishment" dished out was to Hendricks, who fought Bourque very early on, but didn't do much.
MarJo had a very eventful night. He had the second goal on a close-in shot to the top shelf, took a stick to the face that led to the aforementioned four-minute power play, and suffered through a knee-on-knee collision with about 2:30 remaining in the game. Let's hope it isn't a serious injury. Heck, any injury that takes him away, even just for a very short time, will be very debilitating for the team. They'd end up having to play Laich on the top line, Halpern on the checking line, with Eakin and Perreault, I guess, taking the remaining two positions. That is not a line down the middle that would inspire fear into the opposition.
Boy, I hadn't thought about it before. That's just scary. Let's not think about it, and hope MarJo's ok.
I mentioned some curious penalty calls. To elaborate, two of the third-period calls (plus several non-calls) were a bit... questionable. Erskine got quite the whammy of a call on a hit on Darche. He ran into Darche, gliding, standing up, and got a minor for elbowing and a double-minor for high sticking. His elbow did hit Darche, probably in the head, but it was against his body at impact. It came up on his follow-through, but that should not be a penalty (as I understand the rules). It's almost impossible to avoid doing that.
Some I'm a little confused about the elbowing call. The high sticking part I can't figure out at all. I watched the replay on it eight or ten times, and I can't see contact with the stick at all. Before, during, or after the hit. So I'm utterly baffled by that part of the call. Here's the video.
The other curious call was on OV for delay of game. It looked pretty clearly, to me, like it hit the glass on the way out, but that's not the way it was called. (That makes two games in a row for strange penalties on OV. His crosscheck against the Islanders involved him hitting someone with his hands together on the stick. How that could possibly be a crosscheck is beyond me. Didn't think to save the video on it, though.)
Anyway, that's about it for tonight's game. Let's hope we see the team playing even better Friday in Carolina. Like the Islanders game last night, this is one the Caps should win. Let's hope things don't go the way they did in that one.