Game 53 Review: Caps Have Clinker Against Kings

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, February 06, 2009 | , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Fifteen seconds into the game, the Caps held a 1-0 lead. It would be the last time for the night Washington would be ahead on the scorecard.

The Capitals (33-16-4-70, first in Southeast, second in East) allowed a power play goal, a short-handed goal and a goal with 1:33 remaining to fall to the Los Angeles Kings (22-21-7-51, fifth in Pacific), another non-playoff team, 5-4 before an announced capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Coach Bruce Boudreau did not mince words in his post-game press conference, "The first period wasn't pretty, but the second period was downright ugly," Boudreau said, adding, "They've beaten us twice and we're a better team than them."

Alex Ovechkin did not want to talk about his 200th career goal after the demoralizing loss to a team that is just two points out of last place in the Western Conference.

"I don't know what's happening with us, but after [Semin's] goal, we just stopped playing," Ovechkin said. "Didn't play our system. We didn't finish checks. We didn't shoot the puck. We didn't play our game."

Washington opened the scoring on the first shift, the first shot of the game. A loose face-off in the left wing circle sent the puck behind the Kings' net, where Brooks Laich wrestled it away from an L.A. defenseman Matt Greene and ushered it behind the net to the other side, drawing three defenders. That left Semin alone in the slot, and Laich hit him right on the tape.

Semin buried it behind Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for his 20th goal of the season. It's the third straight season of 20 goals or more for Semin, and he has 45 points for the season, passing last year's total of 42.

That's pretty much where the highlights ended for DC though. The Caps surrendered the game's next three goals, including two by forward Anze Kopitar. The first Kopitar goal was a power play goal, marking the 13th consecutive game Washington has allowed an extra-man goal.

Kopitar again lit the lights just 13 seconds into the second period, and less than a minute later, forward Michael Handzus kicked in a short-handed goal for L.A., making it back-to-back games the Caps have allowed a shorty.

The game was filled with turnovers for DC, and Boudreau was not happy that the team failed to execute the stated game plan. "The game plan was to get it deep and play it deep in their corners," Boudreau said. "And how many times did we lose the puck by trying to be too cute at the blue line. That part is unacceptable."

Washington played a fairly dominant third period, outshooting L.A. 22-5 and outscoring them 2-1. Mid-way through the period Ovechkin stole an attempted break-out pass and whipped it past Quick for his first career goal against L.A., his 37th of the season, and the 200th of his short, but brilliant, career. It cut the lead to 4-3 with plenty of time remaining.

Quick, however, was up to the task, making several good saves the rest of the way, and when Kyle Calder banged home a pass from Dustin Brown at 18:27, many of the partisan crowd got up to leave. The goal was scored as a by-product of great forechecking, made easier as the Caps had four forwards and one defenseman on the ice at the time, trying to net the equalizer.

Brooks Laich answered 27 seconds later skating six-on-five to reduce the gap to one, but despite a flurry of shots, saves, and offensive zone face-offs in the game's final minute, the Caps couldn't push this one to overtime.

The Capitals host the Florida Panthers Saturday night at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center. The Panthers are in second in the Southeast Division, 12 points behind the Caps. Florida beat the N.Y. Islanders last night 3-2.

15.0 Alexander Semin (20), Slap Shot. Assist: Laich
08:55 Power Play - Anze Kopitar (13), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stoll, Brown

13.0 Anze Kopitar (14), Wrist Shot. Assist: Frolov, O'Donnell
01:02 Short - Michal Handzus (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Frolov
01:43 Power Play - Mike Green (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Theodore
07:26 Patrick O'Sullivan (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kopitar, Quincey

10:32 Alex Ovechkin (37), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
18:27 Kyle Calder (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Brown, Stoll
18:54 Brooks Laich (13), Tip-In. Assist: Green, Backstrom

1. A. Kopitar - LA (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
2. A. Frolov - LA (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)
3. D. Brown - LA (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)

Goalie Brent Johnson will undergo surgery on his painful hip in the very near future, and will miss up to two months, depending on the severity of the surgery...Ovechkin is currently fourth among the players who scored the most goals in their first four years in the NHL, behind only Wayne Gretzky (269), Mike Bossy (241) and Mario Lemieux (215)...Mike Green scored his 17th goal of the season, 13th on the power play. He has set a franchise record for the longest goal streak by a defenseman at five games, which ties his longest personal point streak.