Well, that was a snoozer for about 58 minutes and then … chaos. Two goals in the final minutes and then a heroic effort by a 41-year-old goaltender who was out of the league for most of last season.
Curtis Joseph was awesome, and the Maple Leafs earned two points for it. The Caps, well a spirited final six minutes doesn’t exactly make up for the fact that they sleepwalked through most of this one. Here are some notes from the aftermath here at Air Canada Centre:
* Joseph made NINE saves in the final minute of regulation and overtime, including two great ones on Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. This place erupted when he stopped No. 8 with 15 seconds left, and the cheers and “Cu-Jo” chants got louder with each save.
It was a really cool atmosphere to witness … and really weird considering the place was a morgue for the first 58 minutes of this game.
* Martin Gerber was ejected, presumably for shoving linesman Pierre Champoux. Gerber was livid after Brooks Laich’s goal was allowed. Gerber was pretty good tonight as well, stopping 34 of 36 shots. Then again, it was another night where it was quantity over quality for the Caps.
* Interesting tidbit involving Joseph — the last two Canadian goalies in the Spengler Cup were in the building tonight. Joseph played for Team Canada last year and used that performance to pick up a gig in Calgary, and Washington backup Daren Machesney was Canada’s netminder this year.
* Both teams were no-shows in the first period. The Caps weren’t a whole lot better in the second, and needed that power play goal from Alex Ovechkin badly.
* This is three times in five games the Caps haven’t drawn a penalty in the first 37 minutes of the game. Even if Boudreau was OK with the middle game of the three (at Florida), that cannot happen for a team that a) has so much skill that other team’s should have to hook/hold/trip and b) has one of the deadliest power plays in the league.
* Alexander Semin was bad tonight. Yes, he is sick and missed practice yesterday but other guys on this team are sick too. He gave the puck away several times, turned down ample shooting opportunities to attempt fancy but hopeless passes and could have ended this thing in regulation when he whiffed at the puck when it was lying in the crease.
It looked like Semin was trying to avoid the contact and tap it in, but maybe it was his momentum carrying him away from the cage. Either way, is there any question that Brooks Laich makes whatever sacrifice necessary to ensure that puck goes in the net? (Hint: the answer is not yes).
Boudreau said he thought Semin was “pretty mediocre” and that this is about four games in a row that have been “below his normal par.” This comes after a stretch of about 10 games where he was awesome and clearly the best forward on the team.
* Alex Ovechkin was not dominant like he can be, but he was better than he has been in most of the past 10-12 games. Luke Schenn felt the brunt of what was the most hitting Ovechkin has done (other than the Atlanta game when he got mad) in at least a month.
* Jose Theodore thought he was interfered with on Toronto’s first goal. He said Mikhail Grabovsky took out his stick and turned him sideways a bit. He said it might not have been a goalie interference penalty, but it should have at least been no goal.
Maybe the Laich goal made up for that. Theodore wasn’t tested a ton — though he did stop FOUR rebounds in one sequence when Toronto was on the power play.
* The Caps have lost nine of their past 17 games — four of those games to teams with no hope of making the playoffs. But at least the Caps won’t have to face teams like Toronto or Colorado in the postseason, right?