Jacket is a tight fit

I wasn't able to watch last night's Caps/Blue Jackets game live, although I was close. I watched most of the first period only half an hour or so late, and the rest more like an hour and a half late.

In any event, the roster was basically the same as the last several games (whither Fehr?), with Holtby in goal.

The first period did not go so great for the Caps. It felt like more time was spent in the Caps zone, although the Caps did get several very good scoring chances on Columbus turnovers in their own zone. Happily, the Caps were able to escape the period without any damage done.

The second period started a little better, with the Caps possession numbers improving. It wasn't looking so great when the Blue Jackets got the first power play of the game. But a clear led to greed by Bobrovsky, who tried to play it up-ice off the glass and missed. That led to a couple of decent chances (though no great ones), until a nice play by the Blue Jackets led to a 2-on-1 going the other way. That was broken up by a combination of good defending from Green and good backchecking by Brouwer.

Unfortunately, Brouwer ended up with the puck behind the Caps net (or at least with it under him), but had it immediately stolen away by Dubinsky. And it seems that everyone else on the Caps assumed the threat was already neutralized, because when Dubbie skated in front of the net, not only was no one there, but nobody was even close. When Holtby made a (probably ill-advised) poke check attempt to get the puck, 'Binsky used his long reach to make a nice move around him and put the puck in the back of the net.

Play was pretty even for the next six minutes or so, until Erat made a very nice power move past a defender who ignored the puck. It was just close enough that Bobrovski tried to dive for the puck, but Erat got free just enough to slide the puck to the side, where Carlson dove at it, putting the puck (and himself) into the wide-open net to tie the score. Major kudos to Erat on that one (and to Carlson and Wilson, who both put themselves into position to take advantage).

Carlson, after not scoring in the first thirteen games, now has twice as many goals as the rest of the defense combined (and that includes Carrick's goal). Nice job, John.

The play over the rest of the game was largely favoring the Caps, although the Blue Jackets were still getting good chances. In fact, it felt like they were getting the better of the chances. The Caps got the next goal on the PK, with a clear down-ice taking a weird bounce off the glass, and going right to Wardo, who planted it into the nearly-empty net from a sharp angle, to the surprise of everyone (himself included, I think).

To the surprise of few, it took Columbus just under two and a half minutes to tie the game again, although it took a lucky bounce off a player in the crease (possibly off his stick, although, if so, it hit it between his hands) to do so. To give an idea how much luck was involved, there, the player in question went head-over-heels as the puck was getting to him, and finished the fall by kicking Holtby on the top of his head with his heel.

Three minutes later, Columbus opened a lead when Cam Atkinson's wrister beat Holtby.

Things were looking pretty desperate after that, with the Caps pouring on the pressure, but not looking terribly good in doing so. But Grabo jumped on a rebound of a Chimmer shot from very wide, and put it off Bobrovsky's arm and in to tie the game again with less than two minutes left.

The pressure, from there on, was almost all by Columbus, but the top line (well, MarJo and OV, who followed Backstrom and Grabo, I believe), put a nice play together. MarJo took the puck into the zone, nicely slipped by a check against the wall, got his balance, skated into the middle to put a backhand shot on Bob. And OV, coming from the other side, skated right to the puck and chipped it over Bob's leg for the Caps first overtime goal of the year.

All in all, it was a very mixed bag for the Caps. The top line didn't do well on the game (outside of the overtime goal, obviously). The power play wasn't, as it allowed the shortie, didn't score any goals, and only had two shots in three chances. The PK was pretty good, getting the fluky shortie of their own, and stopping the other chances. The second line was quietly pretty good. The third line played like the top line, getting quite a bit of zone time and a few chances. The fourth line was pretty quiet, although they played less than six minutes (again, why is Wilson here, playing such limited minutes?).

Urbom was pretty quiet; he did get beaten pretty badly in the corner on one early play, but he recovered pretty quickly and looked decent otherwise. Schmidt looked pretty good as well, with some good keep-ins and no mistakes. And Alzner and Carlson were very strong.

One thing that didn't work in the Caps favor was that they were owned, on the dot. The Caps are normally pretty good at that, but they won only 38% of the faceoffs. I have to wonder if that was a significant factor for the power play.

The defense, on the Columbus side, though, didn't seem too good. A couple of goals on uncleared rebounds; some of that is luck, but not all. And Erat's assist; that's probably a bad choice by the defender there, to just play the body. Still, he did put a good check on, and it took a very good play to get around it.

The Caps were behind in 5-on-5 close Fenwick, although it was close enough to have been entirely decided by the shots Columbus took after Grabo's goal. Still, I'd like to see improvement there.

And we're back to the Caps needing to start faster. They can't keep giving up so much possession early on. It's just not a recipe for success.

And now comes a bit of a gauntlet, starting with Detroit on Friday. To make matters worse, Greenie is questionable; let's hope he's up to it, although that would probably give Dima a chance. Still, Detroit's long been a very strong possession team, and one that doesn't make many mistakes. The Caps will need a top effort if they want to win it. Go Caps!

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