Game 7 Review: Caps Left High and Dry in the Desert

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, October 24, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Glendale, AZ -- The Washington Capitals finally got on the scoreboard first, but could not hold a one goal lead as the Phoenix Coyotes scored twice in the third period to take a 2-1 victory, sending the Caps to their third straight loss.

Phoenix back-up G Mikael Tellqvist made 31 saves in his first start of the season, leading the Coyotes to even their record at 3-3-0.

Washington's only tally came on their much-maligned power play, breaking a 1-for-18 slump with a man advantage. Brooks Laich finished a 4-on-2 rush with Phoenix C Olli Jokinen in the box for tripping. It was a nifty give-and-go with Alexander Semin. Laich took a pass at the blue line from Nicklas Backstrom, skated across the offensive zone and left the puck for Semin. Semin collected the puck, made a deft toe drag around a defender, and slid the puck right back to Laich, who found himself uncontested. Laich then buried a sharp wrister past Tellqvist to take a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.

The Caps then seemed to lose their legs on this middle stop of a three-game western swing. The third period was all Phoenix, as they tied the game at 2:29 on a wrist shot by Mikkel Boedker. Recently recalled D Tyler Sloan poorly played a puck up the boards and it ended up on the stick of Jokinen, Phoenix' best playmaker. Jokinen found Boedker alone in the slot, hit him on the tape, and Boedker beat G Jose Theodore easily. The game winner was registered by Peter Mueller, who beat D Shaone Morrisonn to the far post, on a sweet feed across the slot from Martin Hanzel.

The Caps got one more power play to try to even the score late, but Tellqvist stopped LW Alex Ovechkin from point blank in the slot to preserve his win.

Jose Theodore played well for the second straight game in defeat, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced.

Photo by AP.

CAPS: Laich (2) from Semin and Backstrom (2-8:18-PP)

COYOTES: Boedker (3) from Jokinen (3-2:29); Mueller (3) from Hanzal and Yandle (3-6:32)

GOOD: Jose Theodore. Theodore looks better and more comfortable every game. He made all the routine stops tonight and several difficult ones as well. He couldn't be faulted on either goal as defensive turnovers led to quality scoring opportunities.

BAD: The Defense. The defense really stopped skating in last night's decisive third period. Sloan's mistake was really poor. He put the puck right on Jokinen's stick --- he should have gotten the second assist. Ont he second goal, Morrisonn was caught out of position and allowed Mueller to get behind him on an even-man attack.

UGLY: Scoring drought for the first line. Wither Alex Ovechkin? He, Clark and Backstrom have completely disappeared from view. Ovie had seven shots, none better than his last, where he knocked a Phoeniz D to the ice and stood alone in the slot. But he had some trouble catching the pass from Backstrom, and then could not get any lift on the puck and put it right into Tellqvist's mid-section. Backstrom and Clark each added three shots, and Clark at least started to show some of the scrap that he has to provide. But the ice is pretty thick right now when this trio is out there.
NEXT GAME: Saturday, October 25 at Dallas Stars at 8:00 pm ET.

RECORD: 3-3-1, three-game losing streak.

NOTES: The road team has won the last five meetings between these two teams.

F Viktor Kozlov and Ds Tom Poti and John Erskine all scratched due to injury.

Erskine signed a contract extension earlier in the day. It was a two-year deal worth $2.5M.