For the third straight game, the Washington Capitals defeated an inferior opponent in overtime. The Caps went 2-for-2 on this weekend excursion away from the Phone Booth, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.
“Happy with the four points, but there are still a lot of things we need to work on,” game-winning goal getter Brooks Laich said. “Winning, you are always happy but we’re not satisfied with where our game is at and we’ll be better.”
First, let’s discuss the good:
* Mike Green took over after a dumb knee-on-knee hit by Nate Thompson. Agitators are supposed to know when a good team is sleep-walking through a game and not to wake them up. Well, Thompson, with some help from Tim Jackman’s stick work, did just that.
“Maybe the hit woke him up a little bit, made him a little angry,” Laich said.
[Insert your own “Angry? You don’t want to see Mike Green ANGRY!” joke here. Maybe there is something to calling him “The Hulk” after all.]
* Jose Theodore was great again, despite missing the past couple games with a back injury. He said the back was still a little stiff, but he carried the Caps while they were slogging through the first 30 minutes, and then made the save of the night on Kyle Okposo after Brendan Morrison mistakenly set him up right in front of the Caps net with the score 2-1.
“I said, ‘That’s the save that’s going to save us,’ ” Boudreau said. “I said, ‘Let’s win for him.’ He’s played so well for us, and yet we let games slip away. I was really happy he was in there for the win.”
* As we mentioned earlier, Don Cherry had some choice words for Alex Ovechkin again. Well, No. 8 didn’t have a great nice on offense (two shots on net in 10 attempts) but Green praised him for stepping in after the Thompson hit and he also crashed the net and caused enough havoc to open up space for Keith Aucoin on the second goal.
Ovechkin was floating a bit in the first 30 minutes. He was all over the place in the final 30.
* Kudos to Boudreau, who was mixing and matching in the third, but found a way to get Aucoin on the ice — on a line with Ovechkin and David Steckel. The mad scientist thing worked.
Now for the bad …
* The Caps were outshot 10-5 in the first period. Boudreau said they were outworked, outhit and outhustled. Even he pointed out that the Islanders were playing their third game in four nights and their fatigue might have been the reason the Caps came back.
* The Islanders crushed the Caps in the faceoff circle. Washington won only 20 of 66 draws (30 percent). There might have been some home-cooking on the 50-50 draws, but the dominance was still clear.
Not only the Islanders get their second draw thanks to a faceoff win, they were able to keep the puck away from the Caps more by winning so many draws.
Three Islanders (Richard Park, John Tavares and Frans Nielsen) all won at least 65 percent and took at least 15 draws. Nicklas Backstrom (7 for 25) and David Steckel (4 for 15) were the biggest offenders, though Brendan Morrison (6 for 15) and Laich (3 for 8) weren’t much better.
* The power play was a little better tonight, but a goose egg against one of the worst teams in the league is still a goose egg against one of the worst teams in the league. The PP went 0-for-11 on the road trip and even yielded two shorthanded goals to boot.
The kings of the shorty, the Philadelphia Flyers, are coming to town on Tuesday. That needs to get fixed quickly.