Saturday, January 2, 2010
By Joe Beninati
If you only watched the last two periods today you would have been the convinced were going to squeak out with a win from Los Angeles. I thought the first period was a lack luster performance, for that reason the team found itself in a 1-0 hole after 20 minutes.
The first period was especially physical and in particular it was for Mike Green. He delivered a few crunching hits in that open frame and was a target for some others.
The Kings power play goal was another in a long list of examples for why Ryan Smith is so good in front of the goal. He wades into those high traffic areas without any fear, he gets good body position then he is an expert at finishing rebounds or deflections.
After Mike Green blasted a power play goal past Jonathan Quick in the second I was ready for Washington to take over. The Kings barely breathed on Michael Neuvirth in the second period as the youngster was called on for just three saves.
The Caps played all but one minute of the second period and all of the third without Nick Backstrom. After the game we learned Nick was bothered by a migraine headache. He gets those from time to time and has told me in the past, when they come he can barely see. He has a particular medication which tends to alleviate the severity of the headache, so let's hope he's okay for Tuesday. When he's missing for any amount of time, you realize how valuable a play-maker he is and how important to the Caps power play.
Sadly, this game turned in favor of the Kings. As a result of a short-handed goal. From my perch, it looked like the guys got a little too causal clearing their defensive zones and after Alex Ovechkin threw a mild hit, the Kings kept playing while the Caps started watching. Seconds later, Michael Handzus showed nice patience deeking Neuvirth and roofing the game winner.
The Caps put on quiet a bit of pressure in the last five minutes only to be foiled by Quick. The Kings goalie made two exceptional stops against the Caps 5 on 3 power play and also lucked-out on a couple of, no pun intended, quick whistles.
Three straight losses will not sit well with this hockey team. They should be at their best when Montreal visits Tuesday. You can see it on CSN.