One day after clenching their third-straight Southeast Division title, the Washington Capitals failed to earn the 2 points that would push them over the 100-point marker by losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time in regulation since December 28th. Tonight’s contest started off promising enough, with a b-e-a-utiful pass from Alex Ovechkin to Tomas Fleishmann for a power play goal. Just over 2 minutes later, Brandon Bochenski responded for the Bolts using his wrist shot to take advantage of a Caps team that broke down in the neutral zone and left Goalie Semyon Varlamov out to dry. Varly’s troubles continued throughout the night, falling victim to a well-screened blast from a Matt Walker slap shot and a Vincent Lecavalier lucky elbow that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 late in the second. Brooks Laich was able to pull DC within one goal on the power play 11:09 in the third period, using textbook net presence while picking up his own rebound in the crease. Although the Caps dropped their second contest of their last three at home – after winning a franchise best 13-straight – not all was lost as the all-star commentator tag-team of Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin mentioned Rock the Red’s CSN Game towards the end of the broadcast after Locker assaulted the listening audience with a flurry of the word coconada.
– Winning the face off battle: Dave Steckel won 7-of-9 on the dot while Brendan Morrison won 9 of his 12. Overall the Caps took 32 of 50 draws on the night. Not too shabby.
– Hey, Tomas Fleishmann, the “little message” you’re sending? We get it. Loud and clear.
– How about the complete game Brooks Laich put forth? Not only did he not give up on the play to score his 21st goal of the season, he finished the game with 2 blocked shots, 2 takeaways, and 4 hits. This bud’s for you!
– Several key players on the Caps roster were nicked up tonight. Eric Fehr left the ice after being hit hard from behind, Alex Semin took a stick to the teeth early, and John Erskine (who also was given credit as “joining the rush” at one point) still can’t figure out how to hold onto his stick. Little bumps and bruises might not hurt now, but they’ll be nagging in the playoffs.
– Can someone buy BMo a map? He looks more turned around offensively with each passing game, and has only scored once in 2010.
– Not one member of the Capitals roster finished on the positive side of the +/-. Somewhere in the press box Jeff Schultz was heard sighing, knowing he is the real reason behind DC’s blistering offense.
– Playing Chicago is tough. Playing Chicago at home is tougher. Playing Chicago at what will feel like 10:30 AM, coming off a loss, at home, in regulation, to the Lightning? If anyone can do it – it’s Bruce and the boys.