I wasn't able to watch last night's Caps Rangers game until fairly late; I took my daughter skating around when the game started. But I finally saw it after getting her home and to bed.
The game started with Gru in net (I missed my guess on that one), and Erat, Laich and Ward at forward (and MarJo, Backstrom, and OV were reunited). The defensive lines were unchanged.
And when Dima's terrible excuse for a pass, one minute in, led to Nash's goal, perhaps I should have just turned it off. The Caps actually dominated possession for a while after that, but were unable to beat Lundqvist, even on their power play (in fact, it was a pretty terrible power play). And then the wheel fell off, as Erat and Alzner got called for hooking twenty-three seconds apart.
Nash got Gru to open the five hole less than a minute into the first penalty, and doubled the Rangers' lead. The Caps technically killed off the second penalty, but Stepan got it past Gru before Alzner could get back to the play. At that point, Oates had had enough, and put Holtby in net.
Things looked a little more encouraging when Kreider got whistled for slashing with half a minute left in the period. And improved again when Hagelin was called for slashing OV half a minute into the second. It took only half a minute after that for the Caps to get onto the board, with OV slamming a one-timer from his normal position into the top corner of the net.
But then the bottom fell out, when, with the second power play unit on, Callahan got his first short-handed goal (as a side note, I felt better when Ryan charged up-ice, because Dima was with him, but Dima failed to do anything to keep Callahan from potting the rebound of the initial shot).
That was actually the end of the scoring; the Caps didn't help themselves with a long parade to the penalty box in that period (with Erat taking his second and third).
In the third, the Caps managed not to shoot themselves in the foot any more, but didn't do especially well in their pressure.
Overall, though, they were ahead on Fenwick, for the game, 5v5, and 5v5 close by pretty good margins. So it was actually a much better game than the Columbus one, despite the scores being so similar.
The special teams goals look like a big edge for the Rangers, although the shot data says it was very close, and probably a slight edge to the Caps. But the Rangers got the shortie and the second goal right after the penalty expired, which, I guess, is what counts most (at least, for this game).
Dima and Erat seem like the goats of the game; both made mistakes that cost the team. But they were also the two best players, possessionally (Dima ahead of Marty, slightly).
One thing I found interesting is that the Caps had 16 O-zone faceoffs, compared to only seven in the D-zone. I think that has to say something good about how the Caps played, but I'm not sure exactly what. Obviously, it didn't convert into goals.
As far as faceoffs were concerned, Erskine and Carrick (as you'd hope) were heavily protected in this game; hopefully, that will continue.
More generally, that makes five losses in a row for the Caps, despite them playing pretty well for most of that stretch. But Oates is obviously getting frustrated, as Gru was sent down today (perhaps a trade for Neuvy fell through?) and Oleksy was waived (I'm a bit annoyed about that; he's been pretty good, and a fantastic bargain on his contract). One assumes that opens room for something else to happen; we'll have to wait to see what the other dominos are.
Things aren't looking easier, going forward. Next up will be Ottawa coming to visit, tomorrow night. Go Caps!