I did manage to catch yesterday's Caps game, and man, was it miserable. I was hoping that their domination in game two showed that they'd learned something that could carry over, but such was not to be.
They got off to a slow start, and never really turned it on until the third period. They just couldn't connect passes out of the defensive zone, so they were playing most of the game in their own end. And that's a recipe for getting your ass handed to you.
Holtby, however, was in full-on beast mode, and he kept them in the game (somehow). He only let one through, and even that one was deflection from in close that also tipped off the underside of his arm. Can't blame him for that one.
Still, they should have been down by several, but were only down one in the beginning of the third. It took them a few minutes to get going, then, after which they had an amazing ten minutes or so, where they were even more dominant than the Islanders had been up to that point. And he won't get much credit for it, but Ward was a particular thorn in the Islanders side, repeatedly outduelling Islanders defensemen on the forecheck or in keeping the cycle going.
That push finally led to a goal with six minutes and a few seconds left in the period, and things were looking pretty good. But the Islanders woke up, or the Caps just stopped trying, because there was basically zero momentum carry-over after that goal. They went almost back to where they'd been for the first two periods, leaving Holtby to save them again and again.
Which he did, at least into the overtime. But the overtime only lasted fifteen seconds, as New York won the opening face-off and shot the puck in on Holtby was past the red line. Holtby snagged it, then passed it off to the defender, who turned it over immediately. That led to a flurry, with the second rebound being tipped just over Braden's leg and into the net. Can't blame Holtby for that one either (other than that he should have just frozen the puck, obviously).
Anyway, it was a terrible game that the Caps in no way deserved to win, and which they were mighty lucky to get into overtime. The one bit of encouragement is that, despite being badly outplayed, they still had a chance to win.
The bad news is that they needed Holtby to basically be perfect. He's one hell of a goaltender, but that's a lot to ask. Also, Fehr was injured (probably right shoulder, which is particularly bad news for him, given his history of shoulder issues) and might not be back (no, I haven't heard anything). MarJo was also hurt, though he did return.
I must admit to feeling very pessimistic about the Caps' chances, going forward. They've now been manhandled twice, and if they hadn't returned the favor in Game 2, I'd think they had no chance of winning. As it is, I'm still skeptical. The breakout, in games one and three, has just been atrocious, and that's the building block of all offense.
I don't know.
I guess we can find out tomorrow on CSN. Go Caps!