Caps Falter, Then Gain Back Momentum
By Stephen London
The Washington Capitals came into the capital of Canada Feb. 22 to take on the Ottawa Senators.
Coming off two divisional losses, to the Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1) and the Carolina Hurricanes (5-0), the Caps have been in disarray on the road recently. Considering the Senators have been red hot of late, the Caps had a tough opponent, and lost, 5-2.
Dale Hunter called for a goaltender change midway through the second period after Washington let in four goals from 11 shots. This marks the second time Hunter has pulled Vokoun during his last two starts.
"Tomas would like a few of them back," Hunter said. "He wasn't as sharp as he should have been, and it's in the back of our net."
The Caps need to string together wins if they have any hope of getting to the playoffs. Last night, the Capitals had a chance to pick up two points with a win against the Montreal Canadiens. The Capitals were 5-0-1 during their last six games in Montreal, and this winning trend continued last night.
The Capitals showed impressive physicality and teamwork, which has not been seen this month. Entering the game, they had converted only six of their last 51 power-play opportunities. Even though the Capitals got a 4-1 win against the Canadiens without a power-play goal, that will not always be the case against teams on the road. For the Caps to achieve better than a 10-18-3 road record, they must figure out a way to put the puck in the net when they get a man-advantage opportunity.
Jason Chimera and Jeff Halpern were worked hard the entire game. Chimera hit Mathieu Perreault with a pass to the back post of the net for the Capitals' first goal. That would not be his last tally on the score sheet. Chimera scored on a breakaway goal eight minutes into the second period.
Just 16 seconds after Chimera's goal, Alex Ovechkin came through for the hometown crowd with a one-timer, beating All-Star goaltender Carey Price. That goal was Ovechkin's team-leading 25th of the season.
The Caps dominated the Canadiens throughout the first two periods. The passing did get a little stagnant on the power plays, but there are always things to improve on after the game. With a 3-0 lead at the start of the third period, the Caps played more defensively. Mike Green, playing in only his 14th game this season, came up big in the defensive zone, but there were a couple of lapses.
This win puts the Caps back at ninth place, just one point behind the Florida Panthers. The Capitals face yet another Canadian team tonight as they travel to Ontario, Canada, to face the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs need this win perhaps more than the Capitals do; the Leafs dropped down to 10th in the standings yesterday. It will be a physical game and a playoff atmosphere.
Posted Feb. 25, 2012