The San Jose Sharks put up five goals, three on the power play, as they rolled by Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals 5-3 at Verizon Center.
“Our penalty kill wasn’t good enough, our power play wasn’t good enough, they shut us down and they were able to score,” Caps forward Matt Hendricks said. “At this time of season especially, special teams is big, it’s an indicator of the hockey game most nights and it was tonight.”
The Caps were zero for four on the power play and only killed three of six shorthanded situations. John Carlson and Karl Alzner were on for all five Sharks goals tonight and had one of their worst games of the season.
“I don’t think we are frustrated,” Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin said. “One [game] we have to win, but we didn’t win. Everybody’s trying. I can’t say nobody’s trying, nobody’s playing 100 percent. You can see the first goal was a lucky bounce, but the final four, we have to win the special teams. When they had the opportunity to score goals, they scored goals.”
Dmitry Orlov, Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Schultz had the Caps only goals on the night. It was the second goals of the season for Orlov and Hamrlik and also the first for Hamrlik since October 20th. It was Schultz’s first goal of the season.
Braden Holtby was recalled earlier in the day from AHL Hershey due to the sick Tomas Vokoun and even though Michal Neuvirth said this morning he would be starting, Holtby made his first start of the season. Holtby stopped 34 pucks yesterday in Hershey and stopped 30 tonight in the loss.
“He battled back and made some good stops,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said on Holtby’s play.
Holtby had to battle back because for the second time in as many home games, the visiting score a long fluke goal. This time it came from Dan Boyle firing the puck from just past his own blue line, across the red line, and then being deflected by Joe Pavelski at the other blue line, taking a couple weird bounces and getting by Braden Holtby.
“I don’t have an explanation, I don’t know if anyone else would,” Hendricks said on the fluke goals. “But yeah they’re tough bounces, it happens, just usually doesn’t happen in one week.”
Pavelski had two goals for the Sharks on the night, Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns and Ryane Clowe had the other three for the Sharks.
Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter explained his decision after the game to go with Holtby over Neuvirth.
“Neuvy [Neuvirth] played the night before there and so we figured he hasn’t played much of a back-to-back, Holtby’s ready to go,” Hunter said following the game.
Even though the Caps kept the media in the dark all day, Braden Holtby said he got the call at 9:30am today that he would be recalled, he added that he got to the rink around two and that’s when he was told he would start.
Hershey is approximately 127 miles away, and even though Holtby had played last night and had to travel today, it didn’t worry Hunter.
“It’s not far though, he came down and he was ready to go,” Hunter said.
Holtby wasn’t the only AHL Hershey Bear recalled today, enforcer Joel Rechlicz was also recalled. Rechlicz only played 1:30 and had a ten minute misconduct penalty for yelling, but Hunter said he did his job.
“Winchester [Sharks forward Brad Winchester] ran over Semin and Ovi [Ovechkin] had to jump in last game,” Hunter said. “Winchester wasn’t a factor out there tonight.”
The Caps used an extra roster spot to recall Rechlicz and used the “23 man roster limit; goaltender exemption” to recall Holtby. The Caps are allowed to use it twice a year and the recalled player can only stay with the team for 48 hours.
Mike Knuble was a healthy scratch for the third game in a row.
The Caps ended up with 42 shots on goal and it’s the first time since December 7th in Ottawa that they hit the 40 plus shot mark. They also played the Sharks back up goalie Thomas Greiss who won his eighth game of the season.
“It doesn’t matter the number of shots on whether you win or lose it’s your scoring chances against,” Hunter said. “That’s what we do tomorrow, we break it down- how many scoring chances were there- because anybody can shoot from the blue line and get shots. It’s the quality ones that are the key.”
And the Caps will have plenty of time to break down their miscues, which could take a while, as they have three days off before they head to Florida Thursday afternoon to start a four game road trip and a tough six of their next seven on the road, which is where they’ve struggled for the majority of the season. It’s even more important to straighten up their mistakes since they’re four games out of first in the Southeast Division and a point out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Work on our special teams the next two or three days of practice, the penalty kill and power play too,” Hunter said. “We got to get more goals off our power play to counter what they do on the PK [penalty kill].”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Jeff Schultz and Matt Hendricks had to say following the loss.
2nd 19:59 Orlov (2), Chimera (12), Hamrlik (8)
3rd 10:22 Hamrlik (2), Johansson (20), Brouwer (12)
3rd 14:09 Schultz (1), Perreault (8)
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Braden Holtby Postgame Audio
Jeff Schultz Postgame Audio
Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio