Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter called this a “playoff” game for the second game in a row for the Caps and it felt a lot like a Caps playoff game as they fall 3-2 in a shootout to the Winnipeg Jets in a game they dominated for the most part.
“We played a solid game,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said. “We outplayed them early and had lots of chances and he’s a good goalie on the other end. He [Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec] played well. It shouldn’t have been that close, but it was because that’s what happens when you get a goalie to play against. It was a battle in both ends.”
The Caps had plenty of shots on goal, ended up with 34 shots on goal, and little to show for it, until two late power play goals, one by Alex Ovechkin and another by Alexander Semin, gave them a late lead that they saw it evaporate as the Jets put in two late power play goals of their own, one by Evander Kane, with 2:15 remaining and on a six-on-three with the goalie pulled and two guys in the box for the Caps, and another twelve seconds later off of a shot from the red line by Dustin Byfuglien that went off of Karl Alzner’s stick to beat Tomas Vokoun and send the game to overtime.
“Like I just said, when you’re down six-on-three they have so many more bodies, two-to-one bodies, way more sticks out there,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. “I thought the guys did a good job to block shots, they pressured when they could, kept them to the outside. I don’t think they even had a shot on goal until the goal went in. The puck bounces around. They just have more bodies out there than we do and that’s the reason why they scored.”
“Still, you’ve got a chance to win the game,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said on trying to regroup after the two late Jets goals. “We came out there pushing and trying to score.”
The big call came off of a playing with a broken stick penalty on Brooks Laich forcing the Caps to go two men down late in the third with Roman Hamrlik already in the box for slashing. Only ten seconds remained on the Hamrlik penalty when Kane’s goal went in.
“I tried to clear the puck right away,” Laich said after the game. “And I wasn’t aware that it [the stick] had snapped and he made the call.”
In overtime the Caps out shot the Jets two to one but could only muster one goal, by Alex Ovechkin, in the shootout while the Jets got two to win it. Both Mathieu Perreault and Alexander Semin got stopped on their penalty shots.
“It was kind of hard explaining that one [game tonight]. It’s a tough way to lose,” Capitals forward Matt Hendricks said who played a career best 21:45 and got high sticked that led to one of the Caps power play goals. “We got ourselves in a little bit of trouble there at the end with penalties – a real flukey bouncer there on the second one. I thought we played a good game; I thought Vokey [Tomas Vokoun] was outstanding again tonight. He’s been playing great for us the last month. But to lose a game that way, it’s tough.”
Tomas Vokoun had another great game and had no chance on any of the goals the Jets scored tonight. Vokoun stopped 25 saves in the shootout loss.
“He was good,” Hunter said. “He made big saves for us when he didn’t have a lot of work so it’s tough on a goalie early to keep in the game and stuff, but when we did break down he had to make a good save and he did.”
Brooks Laich, who is still recovering from an injured left knee, played a total of 7:25 with 1:42 being on the penalty kill.
“He’s fine,” Hunter said on Laich. “We just are monitoring his time and giving him 10 minutes a game.”
The Caps power play is starting to heat up going two for five tonight and three for their last six. The Caps penalty kill went two for six tonight.
The Caps (28-21-5, 61 points) fall to ninth place in the Eastern Conference due to tie-breakers even though they have the same amount of points with the Florida Panthers, but the Panthers have a game in hand. The Caps will take tomorrow off before they practice Saturday and head to New York to play the Eastern Conference leading Rangers on Sunday at 12:30.
“Right now we’re not OK with just one point,” Brouwer said. “We feel two [points] should’ve been ours and they should’ve been going with none. That’s hockey, I guess. It’s how things happen. We’ve just got to try and make sure that we’re getting points and when we have leads, we’ve got to protect those leads.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Brooks Laich, Karl Alzner, Alex Ovechkin and Matt Hendricks had to say following the loss.
3rd 9:46 PP Ovechkin (23), Semin (19), Wideman (27)
3rd 12:30 PP Semin (14), Ovechkin (20), Wideman (28)
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
Karl Alzner Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio