For the second straight game the Caps lost to one of the NHL's elites by a 3-1 count with the third goal sailing into an empty net. For the second straight game the Caps failed to score on multiple and lengthy 5-on-3's. For the second straight game there was little solace to be taken away from playing a top team close, and that's not just my opinion - the players held a meeting after the game and the overwhelming sentiment coming out of that meeting was best summed up by Olie Kolzig: "Good efforts aren't good enough anymore. We've got to start finding a way to win these games."
They'll get a chance to do just that come Sunday when they face a beatable Panthers squad at home. Let's see if they indeed can find a way to win.
In other Caps news, I hope you're enjoying these last few games at the MCI Center as, sometime in the first quarter of 2006, it will be renamed the Verizon Center (providing a seamless transition for those of you who call it the Phone Booth). Hey, Caps' power play - can you hear me now? Good. GET BETTER!
Elsewhere around the League:
- The NHL really needs to change the way it awards losses to goaltenders who split time in a game. Jocelyn Thibault gave up 3 goals on 9 shots in under 10 minutes of work Friday night before being yanked down 3-0. At that point, the game was, for all intents and purposes, over. The Thrashers scored another couple of goals before the Pens roared back in the third, only to finally succumb by a 5-4 score. The losing goalie? Because the Pens scored 3 (thus climbing out of the whole T-Bo had dug them) Marc-Andre Fleury, who gave up 2 goals on 22 shots in just under 50 minutes. In baseball, the loss would be Thibault's, since the Pens never tied the score. That's the way it should be in hockey, too.
- More from the Pens and Thrashers, where 2001's No. 1 overall pick upstaged and taunted 2005's No. 1 pick. As told by the AP:
There's more to the story than that (see the AJC for a more thorough recap) - Kovalchuk had taken exception to an earlier Crosby hit on Slava Kozlov, Kovalchuk had crushed him earlier on, etc. - but look for sparks to fly as the teams meet again Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
Kovalchuk turned quickly and pointed toward Crosby, who was coming out of the penalty box. The crowd chanted "Crosby! Crosby! Crosby!" toward the No. 1 draft pick... .
- Friday's injuries: Bobby Holik (foot), Daniel Briere (abdominal surgery).
- Hart: Ilya Kovalchuk (3G, including the game-winner, +2, the above-detailed taunt)
- Ross: Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard, Mark Recchi (3 points each)
- Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom (G, A +1)
- Vezina: Miikka Kiprusoff (27 save shutout win)
- Richard: Ilya Kovalchuk (3G)
- Calder: Cam Ward (W, 1 goal against on 29 shots)
- Aiken: Jocelyn Thibault (3 goals against on 9 shots in 9:33)