Choppy play leads to chopped result

I would have been happy with tonight's Caps result, if they hadn't started by jumping out to a two-goal lead.  We had dinner, and I had to get the kids ready for, and into, bed almost immediately after that, and things went seriously downhill while I was away.

But let's start with those two goals.  Both were within the first seven minutes, and both were on the power play.  In fact, both were OV, despite neither being a typical OV goal.  The first occurred when play had gotten scrambled, and OV was trying to hit Backstrom on a back-door cut.  But Quick got enough in front of it to deflect it, but it went into the back of the defenseman in front of him, and into the back of the net.  The second was also a broken play, as a so-so feed to Brouwer in the middle left him scrambling, but he managed to stretch out to pass it over to OV, who wristed it under Quick as Q was sliding across.

Gotta love a start like that.  My daughter's reaction to the second score: Boo-yah.

And the Caps did a good job keeping the play mostly in the Kings end for the rest of the first period (basically except for the two minutes they were killing a penalty).  Ward took an early tripping call in the second, however, and it eventually led to Richards bringing the Kings within a goal.

Although Washington was outplayed for most of the second (and there were some pretty terrible non-calls on LA in there.  In one sequence, Brouwer had his stick grabbed away, then kicked away from him.  He grabbed it as they went back to the other end, then had it grabbed again at the other end.  Then, a second or so later, another Cap had their stick slashed away, then Nicky got hit hard after chipping the puck in.  No calls on any of that; and that hit took Nick out for the rest of the game), they did manage to restore their margin when Penner pounced on a rebound in front with three minutes left.

But the Caps wouldn't be the Caps if a two-goal lead were safe.  They were absolutely dominated through the third; the Kings doubled them up in Fenwick (and Corsi was probably even less even).  And LA scored in the first, ninth, and thirteenth minutes (at least two of those were against Orlov and Wey; I didn't notice the third).

At that point, I largely gave up on the Caps.  And when Carlson took a penalty to prevent an easy empty-net goal, I definitely did.  But something bizarre happened when the Caps managed to take the ensuing faceoff down to the other end.  Halak ran for the bench, and OV charged on, throwing the puck at the net while running through an attempted stick check by a forward (whose stick went flying almost from the blue line to behind the goal line).

Quick stopped the initial shot, but his leg pad (the top part that sticks up above his knee) stopped the puck going away from the net, and pushed it back under him.  Kuzya skated in right then, and backhanded the puck into the net for the team's second last-minute, short-handed, game-tying goal of the season (Backstrom had the other).

You'd think that'd be enough drama, but the Caps still had forty-two seconds of penalty killing left in the period.  It was a bit ugly, but they got the job done.

And, in fact, they got the job done in overtime as well, as they had to kill the last minute of that penalty.  And from there, the rest of overtime was basically all Caps (there was one 2-on-1 that Green broke up nicely).  They had several very good chances, including Dima ringing one off the right post, but didn't manage to get it across the line.

So they went to the shootout again.  Kuz started off again, but had the puck hop over his stick before he could get the shot off.  Then Kopitar scored.  Then Fehr was stopped (it was close).  And then Carter scored again to seal the game.

As I said earlier, I would have been very happy with the result if it didn't come out of the Caps giving up two two-goal advantages.  Can't really be happy with that, no matter who the other team is.

Despite the four goals conceded, Halak actually had a very good game.  Not only was he barraged, especially in the third period, but at least two of those goals came from undefended players less than ten feet from the net (that would be the two Wey/Orlov goals mentioned).  He also faced several 2-on-1s and a lot of PK time.  Nothing to complain about there.

The power play did pretty well.  As mentioned, they scored twice early (and I think this marks the first time this season that the Caps lost with two PPGs, though I'm not positive about that).  Overall numbers aren't that great, though, with only ten shots attempted (six on net) in just under six minutes (granted, two of those PPs were without Backstrom, and maybe that just shows how valuable he is on the power play).

The PK did not do terribly well.  In just under six minutes, they allowed nineteen shot attempts (eight on net) and one goal.  It could've easily been a lot worse, but that isn't great.

On a trivia note, Kuzya was the sixth Cap to get his first career goal this season, joining Latta, Brown, Carrick, Schmidt, and Wilson.  Penner, Erat and Wellman also got their first goals as Caps this year.

Anyway, despite the leads blown, the Caps were incredibly lucky to escape with a point tonight.  Fenwick at fives, close, was two:one in favor of LA, and that's a formula for getting crushed.  Regularly.  And they did get a little bit of help, finally, as Columbus and Detroit didn't go to overtime and Toronto continued their skid (have now lost seven of last eight).  In fact, I hadn't realized it, but the Caps are now in a four-way tie with those teams for the two wild-card spots.

But the Caps, of course, lose the first tiebreaker against everyone, so they're still on the outside looking in.

And looking to keep them outside is Boston, coming to visit on Saturday.  The Caps will need to play a lot better to win against them.  I'm guessing that Holtby will get the start, but we'll see.

Go Caps!

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