Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Caps Blow Lead, Fall in Shootout Again

Caps Are Now 1-8 on the Season in Shootouts As Cheechoo Nets Game Winner
San Jose Sharks 3, Washington Capitals 2 F/SO
(Photo Courtesy of Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

It was another heartbreaking loss as for the second consecutive night the Capitals failed to take advantage of a team that was struggling heading into the matchup. San Jose had lost three straight and, like the Caps, were having trouble scoring as of late. But the Sharks were able to overcome a strong start by Washington and, despite falling behind 2-0, were able to overcome the deficit to defeat the Capitals 3-2 in the shootout.

Even though Washington had played just 24 hours earlier in Montreal, while San Jose was relaxing in DC waiting for them, the Caps were able to get the jump on the Sharks. After a 10 minute feeling out period where neither team recorded a shot on goal, Shaone Morrisonn was able to tally the first goal of the game. He retrieved the rebound off of a right pad save by Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov following a Matt Bradley shot from the right boards. With Jonathan Cheechoo screening his own goalie while attempting to block his shot, Morrisonn fired a slap shot over Nabokov's blocker for his 2nd goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

The Caps would make it 2-0 just 49 seconds later as Brian Sutherby deposited a loose puck in front of the net for his 5th goal of the season and his second in as many nights.

San Jose would cut the lead in half before the end of the period as Patrick Rissmiller finished off a 2 on 1 break and a nice feed from former Capital Mike Grier. It was Rissmiller's first goal in his last 10 games and his 5th of the season.

The second period was pretty much a stalemate as neither team produced any quality scoring chances until the end of the period, when the Caps had a little bit of a flurry while on the power play.

The Sharks would use their potent power play, which is ranked second in the NHL in goals behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, to pull even in the third following a hooking penalty to Eric Fehr. A Joe Pavelski shot from the left circle caused a free for all in front that saw Matthew Carle finally stuff the puck home after hitting the post on a his first stuff attempt. The goal would send the game to overtime as neither team could tally the rest of the way.

The extra frame saw Nabokov deny Richard Zednik on a semi-breakaway opportunity and Matt Pettinger as well after he made a nice curl and drag move around a defenseman. So once again the Caps found themselves in a shootout situation.

It started out well this time as a successful try by Matt Pettinger on a nice snap shot gave Caps fans hope that maybe they could finally pull one of these games out. But that would not be the case again as consecutive goals by Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo would seal their fate and send the Capitals home frustrated with another shootout loss.

Ron Wilson returned to Washington and remained undefeated against his former club, improving his record to 4-0 since his departure from the Capitals organization. It was also the 10th straight win for the Sharks over the Capitals who have not beaten San Jose since February 20th, 1999. The streak is the longest losing streak against any NHL team for the Caps.

Game Notes:

Kris Beech dressed for the first time in 10 games as he took Brooks Laich spot on the second line. Laich joined Ben Clymer and Steve Eminger as the healthy scratches.... Brian Pothier led the team in ice time with 28:44 and blocked shots with 4.... Brent Johnson had another solid game stopping 33 of 35 shots on the night.... Alex Ovechkin was kept off the scoreboard again, including a shootout attempt, and now has just 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 9 games.... Chris Clark left the game in the third period after a shoulder on shoulder hit in the offensive zone. You have to wonder how bad the injury is considering how he finished his shift after breaking his jaw and losing half of his teeth earlier in the year.... The Hershey Bears also blew a 2-0 lead in their game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. However they were able to respond and win their shootout thanks to goals from Mike Green and Alexandre Giroux to go along with a clean sheet by goaltender Maxime Daigneault.... The Sharks had to play without Patrick Marleau who was a late scratch due to food poisoning.

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