Four Ways to Skinner Cat

The Caps game against the Hurricanes last week actually did go about the same way as the ones before; that is, one team dominated possessionally at evens, and the other team won, largely on the strength of goaltending.  The only real difference was that this game ended up being close enough to go into overtime.

What was definitely weird was that the lines got a major shuffling, coming in.  Part of that was driven by Laich returning, although I don't know what drove a top line of OV-Grabo-Fehr and second line of MarJo-Backstrom-Brouwer.  I guess it worked ok, though; Fenwick 5-on-5 close was nearly 60% for the Caps.  Replacing Volpatti (who, it has been pointed out to me, has been an absolute sinkhole possessionally) with Laich was certainly a good step in the right direction (even though Laich has been pretty brutal himself).

Things started well for the Caps, dominating territorially, until taking a too many men on the ice penalty followed by a high sticking penalty.  That led to a long 5-on-3 (effectively 5-on-2 when Backstrom's stick broke on an attempted clearing), with Skinner potting one with seventeen seconds left.  They managed to kill the second penalty, although it did obliterate their shooting advantage.

Things were pretty calm for the rest of the period, with the Caps barely managing to regain their shooting edge, but without anyone else finding the inside of the net.

The second period was just crazy, with OV scoring on a rush down the right in the first minute.  Less than a minute later (does this sound familiar?), Malhotra beat Gru to restore the advantage.  A minute and change later, Brouwer got his ninth on the backhand (nice when your side of the net is empty), then Binky got one another minute later when his shot towards the front of the net went in off the hand of a defender.  Forty seconds later, Skinner got his second when his wrister beat Gru.

For those doing the math at home, that's five goals within four minutes.  Quite a blur.

Amazingly, the rest of regulation was quiet, with the Caps holding the edge, but nobody scoring.  That took them into overtime, where the Caps are 2-1 (not counting the flood of shootouts).  And it looked good for the first minute and change.  But they overcommited when Oleksy pinched following a good OV chance, which led to a 3-on-1 the other way.  And Skinner completed his hat trick in that rush, beating Gru again.

It was a bit of a frustrating game (especially the two penalties followed by the broken stick), as the Caps played very well, but just not quite well enough to win.

But it bodes well for the future, and they did bring home a point.

One small note: Joe B mentioned OV saying something about how they've managed to win a bunch they should have lost, and lost some they should have won.  Which is all true, although it ignores that they've won a bunch more than lost, like that (and ignores how big a part the shootout has played, as well).

Anyway, a well-played game that didn't go the right way.  That's beginning to feel like a trend.  I just hope they keep playing well, because that will lead to wins accumulating (hopefully without the shootout).  Go Caps!

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