The Capitals blew a 2-0 lead to the New Jersey Devils Saturday night at Verizon Center, going four rounds into the shootout before David Clarkson scored for the visiting team on Michal Neuvirth, who, despite the 3-2 loss, was playing on the top of his game, according to Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Overall, the Capitals’ performance Saturday was sporadic–a solid first period that saw a goal by Troy Brouwer (unassisted) and another by Jason Chimera redirecting a John Carlson shot was followed by a second that saw New Jersey come back and tie. And while the Capitals increased net traffic in the third and got a power play within the last two minutes of the game, they failed to convert. Interestingly, despite 5 penalties apiece for each team, neither scored a power play goal.
Jeff Halpern told OFB afterwards he felt the Capitals played well enough to win in the third, but they needed to do a better job in that second period.
“With the two-goal lead, I think we got two shots on net,” he said. “We just weren’t executing and let them stay in it. … You’ve got to bury chances when you get them.”
Despite not getting on the board during regulation, captain Alex Ovechkin was the only Capital to score in the shootout. Matt Hendricks shot first, followed by Ovechkin, then Alexander Semin, and finally Nicklas Backstrom.
Devils goalie Johan Hedberg had an interesting observation post-game.
“We got some great information yesterday, me and Marty[Broudeur], from Chris Terreri [goaltending coach], one of the shooters, he ended up doing exactly what was talking about,” Hedberg said.
The Capitals were also shorthanded again on the blueline, with Brooks Laich stepping in on defense thanks to a game-time decision that John Erskine would not play. During the game, however, Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik also left with an injury (he’s day to day), which meant the Capitals rotated five players on defense. Credit Laich for not being on the ice for either of New Jersey’s goals against. Boudreau also switched up the offensive line combinations even more frequently than usual throughout the game.
Laich said playing defense is more of a mental game and added he did some power skating with defenseman Brett Clark of the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer to pick up pointers on defensive technique.
OFB’s Elisabeth Meinecke and the Washington Times’ Ted Starkey discussed Brooks’ play as well as low shots on goals totals put up by both teams (19-17 in New Jersey’s favor) in the OFB recap video below (apologies for the technical difficulties with the sound–probably best watched with the volume at its highest setting).