I've been having computer problems the last couple of days (my Mac, for reasons unknown, decided that it didn't want to talk to my Synology RAID unit, and wanted to hang all sorts of login activities because of it), so haven't been able to post.
But boy, was that a weird game on Tuesday in Raleigh. It certainly got off to a bad start, as Tlusty was able to score two goals for the Caps before the Caps were able to get on the board. Making it worse, the Caps were being outplayed over that span, and one of those goals was a power play marker (Carolina's PP has been awful, of late). Can't really blame Holtby for either; the first had Tlusty, just outside the crease, be the first one to get to a rebound that stopped about at his feet despite four Caps around him. The other was a very pretty bang-bang-bang passing play.
OV was able to stanch the bleeding a bit just before the first intermission as he and Backstrom got a two-on-two, and were able to convert.
The second period was off to a rough start at the very beginning, but Skinner went down behind the net to try to draw a tripping penalty and got called, himself, when he put the flat of his hand down on the puck briefly. Weird penalty, but we'll take it, I guess. Fifteen seconds later, the Caps had gotten set up in the zone, and Greenie put a shot from the point off the post, and into the top of the net (Caps first blueline PPG on the season, somehow). Despite that only being the Caps fifth or sixth shot of the game, things were looking pretty good.
Things looked a little worse half a minute later, though, as OV was called for hooking Skinner (yet another dive; impressive, in a way). Just over half a minute later, Tlusty completed his hat-trick by tipping in a pass from Eric Staal.
After the hats were cleared (this game had an exceptionally large amount of stoppage time), play resumed. A couple minutes later, Chimmer and Ward won a board battle at center ice back towards the middle, and Backstrom, who had just come on. Nick took it in, dropped it to Green and continued in. Greenie took that space, and found the top corner of the net with a wrist shot to tie it up again.
That was it for scoring for several minutes, although I think it was during this stretch that Pitkanen went out with a broken heel when he crashed into the boards awkwardly while beating Brouwer out for an icing call (this was the really big delay to which I alluded earlier. I believe they said it took nine minutes of delay getting him off the ice. Hopefully, he'll be ok, although what I've heard since is that it's a ten-twelve week recovery period. Yuck.
After all that, the Caps got a break when a bad breakout pass deflected off OV's skate, to MarJo, who pushed the puck ahead to Backstrom. Backstrom sucked off both defenders and passed it to a streaking (and open) OV who put it into the near, top corner to finally give the Caps a lead.
Backstrom again got onto the scoring sheet with a minute and a half left of the period when he hooked Jordan Staal. That led to a power play for the Canes. After a clear, they were bringing it back into the zone when the puck was dumped off to the right point a bit sloppily. MarJo beat the defender to it and broke down ice. Ward charged hard from the other side, and MarJo hit him with the pass when they were close to the goal. Joel pushed it into the net to give the game's final margin.
The third period was a busy one, even if nothing found the back of the net. The Caps spent a large portion of the period in their own zone, and had two stoppages of play when players were hit in the face with the puck (Erskine and Ward). Thankfully, both were ok, but it was a bit scary. The second came with about seven minutes left, and those, combined with Pitkanen's injury, had me wishing the game was called just to prevent injury.
They didn't do that, of course, but happily, no one did get hurt.
Overall, this was not really a game the Caps deserved to win. It was just one where the Caps converted almost every chance they got. That's certainly cool, but not a good predictor of future success.
The other good part was that the Jets also lost, leaving the Caps in pretty good shape for the postseason (or, at least, better than they've been in so far this season. I suspect their odds are still below 50-50).
But, that's where they were until yesterday. Next up are the Islanders, tonight.