|Anze Kopitar led a Kings comeback Saturday afternoon.|
The first period got off to a great start for the Capitals as Alex Ovechkin took advantage of a loose puck at the defensive blue line, barreling down the wing and cutting to the center for a quick goal at the 1:06 mark past surprise Kings starter Jonathan Bernier. After the goal, the game settled down for a bit as the Kings tried to keep the Capitals from getting too much momentum. But that defensive style would not last for long, as the Kings began to get steady offensive pressure with a good forecheck. But the Capitals counterattacked well, and Brooks Laich had a great opportunity denied by Bernier from the slot. Inside of seven minutes, however, the Kings got several good chances off of their forecheck again, but were stymied by Semyon Varlamov in close to keep the Capital advantage at 1. The Caps tried to counter attack again, but the Kings continued to get the better rushes and offensive zone presence inside of three minutes. Very late in the period, the Capitals got a good chance when Jonathan Bernier turned the puck over behind the net, but David Steckel could not get a shot off in time. The period ended with the Caps up 1-0.
In the second period, the Capitals got the first chance off the stick of Alexander Semin off a turnover, by he wasted it in typical Semin fashion but shooting high and wide. The Kings came right back though, generating good offensive pressure off a forecheck after a bad defensive zone turnover by Scott Hannan. But the momentum that the Kings built was quickly washed out by a delay of game call that sent the Capitals to the first power play of the game. The man advantage had some OK zone time early, but did not shoot enough and came up empty (again). After the power play was over, a short period of back and forth play was followed by more Kings offensive pressure. About halfway through the period, the Kings were finally rewarded when Wayne Simmonds drove to the net down low and got a shot off; Anze Kopitar was there to bury the rebound and draw Los Angeles level at the 10:41 mark. The Capitals tried very hard soon after to get back on track, but were unsuccessful again against a now stout Kings defense. The Capitals drew another power play at the 14:38 mark of the frame, but once again, failed to get any good pressure again with poor shot selection and zone entries. After the expiration of the man advantage, the Kings got some great chances and ended up drawing a power play of their own when Mike Green roughed Simmonds down low. The Kings got off to a great start on their power play, but could not score before the period closed, and the teams ended the second period tied at 1.
The Kings came out very hard to start the third period with a minute and a half of power play time left, and immediately set up in the Caps zone. But the Caps' systematic penalty killing took over again, and they kept the Kings from taking the lead during the man advantage. Soon after they killed off the penalty, however, Kings defenseman Matt Greene sent a long head man pass up ice to Kyle Clifford, who went in alone. Varlamov did well to stop the first shot, but Russian rookie Andrei Loktionov buried the rebound to put the Kings in front at the 3:26 mark. The Capitals, now desperate for any offense, began to drive the zone with urgency, and it earned them another power play when Nicklas Backstrom was hauled down in the corner at the 7:17 mark. But again, the power play was awful, with poor zone entries and exactly zero shots. The Caps then sort of gave up, making lazy plays in the neutral zone, and the wheels came off the bus as a result. Right after an Alex Ovechkin chance, the Kings made another rush up ice and Michael Handzus converted on a scrum in front to put the Kings in front 3-1. Just over a minute later, the Caps gave up another odd-man rush off a defensive collapse, and Jarret Stoll slammed a one-timer over Varlamov's glove to put the game away and send about half the arena home early. The Caps were given a late power play inside 4 minutes, but once again nothing came of it, and the last four minutes of the game past without incident as the end to one of the Capitals' worst games in recent memory came to a close.
Are the Capitals serious right now? Do they not understand that they need these games? These points? The Kings played their backup goalie, who has a save percentage under .900, and after their early goal, did nothing to get into his kitchen and aggravate him like they so effectively did to Dwayne Roloson and Marc-Andre Fleury. After two great wins last weekend, the Capitals have again gone back to lazy zone play and bad decisions all over the ice. A pathetic performance.
Semyon Varlamov cannot be blamed for this one. He had no chance on any of the goals that he allowed, and although he didn't really have to make any big saves because of the way the game went, he still played well enough to win if he actually had a defense in front of him. Despite this, I expect to see Michal Neuvirth on Monday in Phoenix.
Did Alexander Semin play today? What about on Tuesday? I sure didn't see him. The one time he made any play with the puck, he missed the net (again). He was put with Ovechkin and Backstrom for almost the whole game and still couldn't get anything done. I sure hope he wakes up soon, because the Caps need him at top level to have any hope of making noise the rest of the season.
The Capitals will fly to Phoenix tonight before likely practicing tomorrow and then taking on a very good Coyotes team on Monday night. That one is scheduled for a 9 P.M. start.