I wasn't able to watch Tuesday's Caps/Panthers match-up, that night. I wasn't able to start it before the kids were in bed, and then crashed right after putting them in bed. Ugh.
But that's why we have DVRs, so I watched it last night. And man, was that a game.
Until it started, I didn't realize how closely matched the teams were likely to be. I assumed the Caps were way ahead of the Panthers in the standings (just based on past history). Well, if so, then one point is the definition of "way ahead".
It didn't start especially well for the Caps. Through the first half of the first period, they weren't allowing a bunch of shots, but also weren't taking them. And they spent entirely too much time in their own end. It was a game featuring a heavily-clogged neutral zone and a lot of hitting.
The Caps weathered the storm after bending a bit on a rough forecheck, though, and by the end of the first, things had evened out a bit. The Caps were ahead on shots (9-6), though I was guessing they were also ahead on blocks. Not so, after checking: Florida was ahead there, 9-2. For those who want to figure full Corsi or Fenwick, missed shots were even, at five a side (WSH CF% 64, FF% 56. Great numbers!).
The second period also didn't start great, with Florida getting an early power play, but the Caps killed it off (painfully; three shots plus one blocked). The Caps got a chance back a minute later when Wilson drew a hooking call on Flash. They weren't able to really get set up, though, and got only two shots off (both by OV).
A few minutes later, the Caps got another chance when Backstrom drew a hooking call. This time, they quickly cashed in. Brouwer's first shot was blocked, and went out to OV. Sasha put it back to Troy, whose second shot was blocked as well, but Brouwer got another shot immediately with the puck right next to the blocking defenseman, and this one not only got through, but went over Luongo and into the top of the net.
It looked like the rest of the period would be played at evens, but Orpik was called for slashing with 2:06 left, forcing an end-of-period kill with a regular PKer in the box. Despite that, it went well, with a successful kill, allowing only three attempts (one wide, two blocked) against.
For the period, shots were even at ten (even at seven, at evens), WSH CF% 46, FF% 48. At evens, 46% and 47%. Not disastrous, but not good.
The third period had a ridiculous amount of cloggage and hitting (hits for the game were 50-48, in favor of Florida), with no penalties or scoring. Play was heavily in favor of Florida, though, with shots 11-3 in their favor. Yuck.
Going to full Corsi or Fenwick doesn't really make things look better for the Caps, either. WSH CF% 27, FF% 29. Wretched numbers. Truly wretched.
The only thing that made it look better was that, at one point, Laich appeared to score. But it was ruled to be kicked in (though I feel like pointing out that it was not a dangerous kick, being sideways by a trailing foot), so it was disallowed. And man, was that a pig-pile in front of the net when it happened. I think there were seven or eight players inside, or next to, the crease.
So, it went into overtime, where the Caps looked a little better. Shots were even, with Washington having the only missed shot (and there were no blocked shots, by either team. Very weird. Makes me wonder how much the percentage generally goes down at 4-on-4).
Overall, WSH ES CF% 49, FF% 46. Definitely a "needs improvement" rating on both of those.
And that's when the game really got interesting. It didn't seem like much when all three shooters, by both teams, were held scoreless. It didn't even seem like much when the fourth shooter from each team scored (OV and Jokinen). It started to seem a little weird when the next two shooters from each team were held out.
And quite a bit weird when the next two from each team scored (Ward and Carlson vs Mackenzie and Bergenheim).
Then things turned downright bizarre as the next five from each team all failed. Surely, someone wants to win, right?
Orpik and Olsen both did, so they cancelled each other out.
Alzner completed the list of options for Trotz, and was kept away. Mitchell (ironic, picking the captain last), similarly.
Backstrom and OV went next, and were each denied (OV beat Lu, but put it over the net). Jokinen was stopped in his second attempt, but Bjugstad ended it with a snap-shot that Holtby couldn't follow.
Yeah, twenty rounds. The Caps have now been involved in both of the longest shoot-outs in league history. I say they should have given the goalies a chance (at least the back-ups) before starting through the line-up again.
I'm not a fan of the shoot-out (I think it's a terrible "solution" to the problem of preventing ties, and playing for ties), but that was an interesting one.
The one thing I can't figure out is how Holtby didn't end up one of the stars of the game. For that matter, why wasn't Luongo first star?
Next up is the rubber match against Columbus, tonight at seven. Go Caps!