Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Lightning Strikes Twice

Ruh-roh, Rastro.
The Washington Capitals dug themselves even deeper on Sunday night, falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime.  The Caps fell behind twice and tied the game late in the third period, but could not win when they forced overtime.  Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin scored for Washington, and Michal Neuvirth made 20 saves in the DC net.  With the loss, the Caps failed to take advantage of another shorthanded Lightning team missing a top forward and defenseman, and are now down two games to none in their best-of-seven series, heading into Tampa's barn for games three and four.

Both teams got chances in the first minute off of rushes up ice during a rather fast start, but both goaltenders made good first stops to keep the game scoreless.  It was the Capitals, however, who attempted to take control with alot of shots on Roloson that generated rebounds, but Washington could not bury them.  Tampa slowly began to get some momentum as the period continued, and were rewarded when Mike Knuble was called for a retaliation interference penalty at 7:14.  The Tampa power play got little momentum going, and after a successful 1:50 of killing time, Steve Downie was called for holding at 9:04, giving the Caps a slightly abbreviated power play.  The Washington man advantage saw excellent zone time and chances, but Roloson continued his solid play to keep the Caps off the board.  The Capitals were awarded another power play soon after however when Blair Jones tripped Jason Chimera and was boxed at 12:11.  This time, the power play was much less encouraging, and Tampa was able to kill it ofd with relative ease.  Immediately after the penalty expired, Brett Clark was called for cross checking for another Washington power play.  The Caps got better pressure on this one than their last one, but again could not break through Roloson.  Tampa was then given a chance to get on the board with their second power play after Alex Ovechkin was called for high-sticking at 17:56.  The Lightning took advantage of their power play this time, as Vinny Lecavalier scored on a slapshot from the half wall at 19:01; a huge momentum shift against Washington.  The period ended with the Lightning up 1-0 after an uneventful final 59 seconds.
Washington came out hard in the second period, getting a nice chance in the first 60 seconds off the stick of Alexander Semin, and they were rewarded with another power play at 1:33 when Ryan Malone was sent off for high-sticking. After two more brutal minutes, however, the Caps could not convert; but were then given another man advantage when Marc Andre Bergeron was called for hooking at 4:17.  Washington was brutal on the man advantage once again, and Mike Green was then called for roughing at 6:02 to give the Lightning a man advantage; they were able to kill it off.  After a dull couple of minutes, Sean Bergenheim was called for hooking at 11:00 to give the Caps another power play, but again, the man advantage was pathetic and DC could not get their equalizer. Washington, clearly noticing they were in dire need of a strike, finally got one when Nicklas Backstrom collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in on the Tampa defense and dropped the puck off to Brooks Laich, who equalized for DC at 14:42.  The momentum was killed soon after however when Jeff Schultz was called for a hold at 15:28.  The Caps came up with a huge penalty kill, limiting the Bolts to zero shots and then getting two scoring chances of their own.  As the period wound down, Washington kept getting chances, but Tampa was able to keep them at bay until the end of the period, and the second intermission arrived with the teams tied at 1.
The Lightning got the first chance early in the third period as Steven Stamkos cut in off a rush, but Neuvirth was able to glove it.  Tampa continued to press as the early stages of the frame continued, controlling play and getting chances at the Washington net that Neuvirth had to do well on.  Slowly the Caps tried to gain momentum again with some checking pressure, but Roloson and the Tampa defense performed well to keep them from breaking through.  The Lightning rewarded their goalie soon after, as Martin St. Louis banked a shot off Mike Green to take the lead at 7:35.  The Caps did not get any favors a minute later when Mike Green was boxed for roughing at 8:32.  Washington was able to kill it off, giving them nine minutes and 30 seconds to tie it up.  As the clock began to tick down, the Caps began to show their desperation and started to throw men forward in attempts to get more pressure on Roloson. The suffocating Lightning defense had their number, and with less than five minutes remaining, frustration really began to mount for the home side, as they simply could not get anything through.  However, with their goaltender pulled and just over a minute left, Alex Ovechkin crashed the net and chipped a centering pass from Jason Arnott into the top corner to equalize at 18:53.  The Caps continued to press over the final minute, but could not pot another and the game moved to OT.
Washington came out solid in overtime, getting a chance on Roloson early that the goaltender was able to swallow up and then getting a break from Ovechkin, who's shot missed the net.  The Caps kept up their pressure in the early stages of the period and were really buzzing, but the Bolts held their ground and got a 3 on 1 break off a sloppy play by Alex Ovechkin; Steve Downie shot the puck high. After another press, however, a Randy Jones pass took advantage of a terrible line change by the Caps, and Vinny Lecavalier skated in alone, potting the winning goal at 6:19.


One word - brutal.  The Capitals played lackadaisical for 50 of the 66 minutes tonight, and it came back to bite them in the rear end again.  Sloppy passing, lazy checking and zone entries, and bad zone changes cost Washington this game. When they played their game, they got the chances and, believe, it or not, they actually scored two goals.  When they didn't?  Well, that happened.  Heartbroken.

I am calling Nicklas Backstrom out.  The Capitals "top center" has been outplayed by Marcus Johansson these entire playoffs and he is embarrassing himself.  His play is soft along the boards, he can't win a faceoff to save his life, and he can't put pucks in wide open nets (he missed again tonight, that's 4 these playoffs).  He is absolutely brilliant when he is on, but he has been so far off the map lately, especially this series, you couldn't find him with a satellite.

I am calling Alex Ovechkin out.  You know, its funny, for someone who used to be the greatest offensive player in the world, Ovechkin has been pretty bad in these two games so far.  He's pressing and he's trying to do something else.  He insists on trying to dangle around everyone with the EXACT SAME move, and he looks flustered when it doesn't work.  His goal came because he went to the net and did dirty work.  He needs to do it more often.

Well then.  The Caps will likely practice tomorrow at Kettler before flying down to Florida for games three and four.  Game three will be Tuesday night.

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