Caps get a point, but fall to Leafs in SO
Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals enjoy a Sunday off after Saturday night’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre:
What it means: The Caps’ loss was their third straight [0-2-1], but the point kept them two ahead of the third-place Rangers in the Metropolitan Division, four behind the first-place Penguins. The Caps will practice at Kettler on Monday and Tuesday before facing the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night at VerizonCenter.
Oh, to be Ovi: Alex Ovechkin turned a fortuitous bounce of the puck into his NHL-leading 20th goal with 4:10 remaining in regulation to salvage a point for the Capitals. Mike Green’s flip into the offensive zone hit the ice like a perfectly placed golf shot to the green, rolling back toward Ovechkin, who one-timed a shot past Leafs netminder James Reimer, who turned back 49 shots. Ovechkin now has 43 goals in his last 44 games dating back to last season, when he finished the season with 23 goals in his final 23 games. Could Ovechkin become the first player to record 50 goals in 50 games since Boston’s Cam Neely did in 1993-94? To do so he would need seven goals in his next six games. By the way, Ovechkin is now on pace for 73 goals, the most since Teemu Selanne scored 76 times in 1992-93.
Shootout selections: Adam Oates switched things up with his shootout selections Saturday night, giving Eric Fehr his first shootout attempt of the season [goal], and following with Ovechkin [save], Nicklas Backstrom [save] and Troy Brouwer [over the net]. It was a little surprising Oates did not give Mikhail Grabovski [2-for-6 this season] a crack at it in his first game back in Toronto after getting bought out by the Leafs. Backstrom’s miss was his first of the season [4-for-5], Ovechkin slipped to 1-for-6, and Brouwer 1-for-2. Caps goalie Braden Holtby allowed goals by James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul to fall to 3-1 in shootouts this season. He’s allowed five goals on 16 attempts.
Sputtering power play: The Capitals went 0-for-3 on the power play and are 2-for-23 in their past seven games. The Maple Leafs collapsed into a tight four-man box, taking away passing lanes and shadowing Ovechkin in the left circle. "We kind of changed it up a little bit just based on what they were doing on their power play," Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Frazer said. "But they have a couple key shooters on their team, which is pretty obvious, and we just tried to isolate them as best we could and maybe force them out of their comfort zone and force them to maybe make plays that they weren't too comfortable with." Adam Oates said the Caps had a few chances where they were “walking down Broadway with point-blanks,” crediting Reimer for keeping them off the board.
One penalty, one goal: Oates was angry with the number of penalties the Capitals had taken in recent games and they committed just one on Saturday, an interference minor to Eric Fehr, who returned to the lineup in place of Marty Erat. The Leafs scored on their only power play when David Clarkson deflected a shot past Holtby. Fehr played 16:56 – all at even strength – and had 12 attempts at the net, five of them reaching Reimer, four of them blocked and three miss the net. He also blocked two shots while playing on a line with Brouwer and Grabovski.
Hometown returns: Grabovski managed two shots and recorded two hits in 16:18 of ice time in his return to the ACC. He also suffered facial cuts when David Clarkson’s skate blade clipped him with 8 seconds remaining in the second period. Grabovski needed 20 stitches to close the wounds but returned to play most of the third period. Caps rookie Tom Wilson saw just 4:59 of action in his first NHL game in his hometown of Toronto, recording one hit in seven shifts.
Look ahead: The Capitals will hit the ice at 10:30 on Monday and Tuesday as they prepare for Wednesday night’s 7 p.m. home game against the Ottawa Senators.