If you take away the special teams goals and the empty-netter, the Caps outscored the Habs 2-0 last night. The problem, of course, is that all those goals count - all five of 'em. So the hole that the Caps dug themselves by committing six first period penalties (including some that would certainly qualify as "dumb") and allowing three first period powerplay goals against proved too much to overcome and the Caps fell 5-3 in Montreal.
On a positive note, Jamie Heward (a goal and 2 assists) and Richard Zednik (assist, +2) helped increase their trade value with strong games and Brian Sutherby scored his first goal since 1988 on a redirection of a Heward blast. In fact, the fourth line was a combined +6 and The Donald has now gone 18-straight games without being a minus player (has he been the team's best player over that span?). Also worth noting is that not once but twice the referees missed a Montreal high-stick (or elbow) that bloodied a Cap face (Shaone Morrisonn's and Matt Bradley's), but got the call right (or close enough to right) after talking to the linesmen. Kudos, Zebras.
On a negative note, Alex Ovechkin continues to struggle and offered this quote postgame:
"Maybe it's my fault. Because sometimes I have speed and I have puck and I go to the zone and I don't know what to do."Maybe it is your fault, Alex. Then again, maybe it's the soul-crushing, excitement-stifling trap the team insists on playing that doesn't allow your teammates to join you on the rush. Is losing 3-2 rather than 5-4 really worth it?
Anyway, on to tonight and San Jose. I'll have more on tonight's game later, so check back throughout the day.
- Hart: Tim Thomas (44-save shutout win)
- Ross: Michael Ryder, Paul Stastny, Daniel Briere, Saku Koivu, Mike Richards (3 points each)
- Norris: Jamie Heward (G, 2A, 3 SOG, 2 hits)
- Vezina: Tim Thomas (see above)
- Richard: Michael Ryder, Paul Stastny, Chris Higgins, Simon Gagne,Nathan Horton, Petr Sykora (2G each)
- Calder: Paul Stastny (2G, A, +1, 6 SOG)
- Aiken: Robert Esche (L, 4 goals allowed on 14 shots against in 22:25 of work)