Backstrom: "Shame on us players... our fault"
It was one of those games that lull fans to sleep. And they’re not the only ones.
“We didn’t have a good game at all,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. “Shame on us players. We had a chance to win the game. Our fault.”
The Capitals made just enough mistakes to keep the last-place Sabres in the game.
They gave the Sabres three power plays in the second period, two of them coming on penalties to Troy Brouwer, to disrupt any kind of rhythm to their offensive game.
“A couple bad ones,” Alex Ovechkin said. “We killed them, but sometimes when we have those kinds of penalties you don’t win the game. PK guys are in the game and guys who don’t play on the PK [like Ovechkin] not in the game.”
For the record, the Caps rank 25th in the NHL in minor penalties [180 minutes] and are in a three-way tie for last in the NHL in times shorthanded .
“We had some penalties,” Oates said. “I think the guys were a little tired. Two emotional games and we were a little tired. … Our execution was off. Part of that is mental fatigue, stress. We iced the puck five feet from [the center red line] four times tonight. That turns into disaster for us. Guys are yelling at each other. It just wears you down.”
The Caps had a late chance to win the game in regulation but Sabres goalie Ryan Miller made a diving stop on Mikhail Grabovski with about 2:11 remaining in regulation.
Grabovski was staring at an open net with a chance to win the game when Miller made an acrobatic save with his paddle.
“That’s one of those that you’re just completely out of options,” said Miller, who was named first star of the game. “…I knew I was in trouble. Those can go wrong for you. More often than not those guys are going to score. I don’t think he got quite all of it and it gave me time to put a blade on it.”
The Caps went beyond regulation for the 17th time this season, most in the NHL. They’ve lost their last four that have gone beyond regulation, three in shootouts.
Oates went with Eric Fehr [5-for-7], Alex Ovechkin [2-for-12] and Nicklas Backstrom [6-for-11] in the shootout and all were stoned by Miller.
Oates was asked after the game if he would consider going away from Ovechkin.
“He’s had a tough time lately,” Oates said, “but I don’t blink when it comes to that.”
The Caps [51 points] managed to grab a point out of the game, which gave them sole possession, at least temporarily, of second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Philadelphia Flyers [50 points] have a chance to take that back tonight in their game against the Rangers.
More alarming should be the fact that just four points separate the second-place Capitals from the sixth-place New Jersey Devils.
“You want the points,” said Capitals right wing Joel Ward. “Really, in the season there are no easy games. You want to get points every single time you can because it will bite you later in the year.”