Adam Oates on Caps loss to Winnipeg
If you think back to last winter, you will recall that Winnipeg was a real pain in the neck for the Capitals. They are a deceivingly skilled bunch that relies upon their work ethic to grind opponents into submission. On Tuesday the Jets silenced a Verizon Center crowd that was pumped up for a party, by skating away 4-2 victors. It put an end to a run of 10 consecutive home-opening wins by the Caps.
As the Caps went through their pre-game preparation this morning, every player we spoke to said pretty much the same: “we need to get a goal early and get the crowd behind us.”
They did just that 10 minutes into the game, and the goal was set up beautifully by the combination of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin turned off the boards in the offensive zone to find Backstrom cruising down the slot area. The Swedish center wasted no time pounding a strong pass to the front of the goal where Matt Hendricks was parked. The puck deflected off Hendricks’ skate, and then his stick, before landing behind Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec. After a video review, it was confirmed the Caps had the lead 10 minutes into the game.
The next couple of minutes proved troublesome for the Caps. Instead of taking momentum from that goal, they took penalties and Winnipeg made them pay.
With Joel Ward off in the box for tripping , Evander Kane scored from a severe angle. Kane doesn’t need much help to score against the Caps (he’s done very well against them ever since he entered the league) but he received a kind bounce off the skate of John Carlson that surprised goalie Braden Holtby.
A few minutes later Carlson was in the penalty box for delay of game when Jets captain Andrew Ladd beat Holtby with a one-time blast from the high slot. After the game Holtby was critical of himself on that strike saying “that was one I’d like to have back.”
Hendricks was involved in two fights this evening, tangling with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn. The feisty winger was attempting to spark his team and the crowd, but to no avail.
The Jets would never relinquish the lead and the Capitals were not much of a threat to take it from them. Washington committed far too many turnovers, especially near the attacking blue line. In the postgame media scrum Head Coach Adam Oates addressed a need for better execution. He also admitted the team’s energy-level wasn’t quite where it needs to be.
Winnipeg took control of the game in the second period when they pumped 20 shots on Holtby and cashed in two more times. With a little less than six minutes to go in the period, Kane made a fine play to find Blake Wheeler, who buried a forehand drive to finish the 2-on-1 break.
A deflection by Slater would bring the count to 4-1 Jets with only :46 remaining in the second frame.
The third period would see Washington fire 17 shots at Pavelec, who once again proved difficult to solve. The Caps delivered a late power-play goal from Troy Brouwer. The winger camped out in front of the Jets goal and drilled home a short-range shot that was set up nicely by Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro.
After dropping consecutive decisions to divisional opponents, the Caps will entertain Montreal on Thursday at Verizon Center. Look forward to catching up with you again on Comcast Sportsnet.
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