Saturday, January 20, 2007

Will the Real Caps Team Please Stand Up?

Tale of Two Games as Capitals Start Out Strong Then Disappear As Panthers Dominate Once Again
Florida Panthers 4, Washington Capitals 1

In front of a crowd of 13,877 at the Verizon Center, the Caps came out guns a blazing, just as they had two nights ago in Raleigh, North Carolina. They took advantage of a penalty-plagued opening (14 minutes of penalties combined in the first 8 minutes of the game) and converted on a two man advantage when Danius Zubrus took a cross ice pass from Alex Ovechkin, and slipped the puck between goaltender Ed Belfour's pads for an early 1-0 lead. It was Zubrus' 17th goal of the season and the 3rd time he has scored while the Caps enjoyed a two man advantage. Alex Ovechkin's assist extended his career high point scoring streak to 9 games.

But that would be the end of the highlights for the Capitals. Beginning in the second period the game quickly resembled last Saturday's debacle in Florida as the Panthers dominated every aspect of the game. They tied the score at the 2:42 mark on a beautiful backhand cross from Anthony Stewart which Marin Gelenas had no problem depositing into the back of the net for his 5th goal of the season. The Panthers would not let up, and despite a Nathan Horton tripping penalty, they would continue to control the action converting on their second quality scoring chance of the penalty kill when Jozef Stumpel snapped a wrist shot past the glove of Kolzig. The score would give the Panthers the lead for good. The Capitals did not record their first shot on goal in the second period until jthe 14:00 minute mark.

The third period was more of the same as the Capitals were outshot 10-1 early on. The game was put out of reach for good when Steve Eminger turned the puck over in his own end, which quickly turned into a 2 on 1 which the Panthers converted on as Ville Peltonen beat Kolzig for his 8th goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. Martin Gelenas would add his second goal of the game on an empty net goal in the last minute of the game making the final 4-1.

A week after giving up 54 shots to the Panthers, the Capitals were once again manhandled by the Southeastern Division dwellers giving up 42 shots on goal while only recording 18 shots themselves. The one positive stat to take away from this game was the Caps holding the Panthers to 0 for 10 on the power-play.

Game Notes: Brian Pothier was scratched from the lineup with what the team said was an "illness". Make your own judgments on the validity of that statement based on the team's history of not reporting injuries to the press....Jamie Hunt was recalled from Hershey but did not dress as Mike Green was able to return to the lineup....Shaone Morrisonn limped to the dressing room towards the end of the first period after blocking a shot off his foot, something that is becoming an epidemic for the Capitals' defenseman, but he was able to return in the second period and finished the game....Boyd Gordon was dominant in the face-off circle winning 15 of 22 for a 68% win percentage.

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