If you’re a Washington Capitals fan, you no doubt enjoyed Saturday night’s outcome against our Atlanta Thrashers. It was quite a game, quite a night and quite a win. Truly it was some enchanted evening in Washington D.C.
Or, should I say, it was…ahem… Semin-chanted evening.
The Thrashers gained a consolation point on the road, losing in overtime 4-3 on Tomas Fleischmann’s goal 1:37 into the extra period. But is was Alexander Semin’s hat trick in regulation that got the defending Southeast Division champs into overtime in order to win it. Semin’s third, fourth and fifth goals of the season tied the score at 1-1, 2-2 and put Washington up 3-2 in the third period.
There were several turning points in the game, but none bigger than the one that left Atlanta a player down with over a period left. With Atlanta up 2-1, Dustin Byfuglien was tagged with a game-misconduct charging call. He was whistled for skating into Caps keeper Michal Neuvirth following as rush up the right side with about two and a half minutes remaining in period.
Atlanta missed Big Buff in the third period as they were outshot 18-5 in those final 20 minutes of regulation while down to five defensemen. The Capitals then outshot the Thrashers 6-0 during 97 seconds of overtime.
Following the Thrashers’ third straight loss, coach Craig Ramsay commented, “Your sad when you lose in overtime, but what a battle”.
Andrew Ladd scored a power play goal to opening the evening’s scoring while Evander Kane potted two and now leads the team with five goals.
Kane put the Thrashers up 2-1 in the second by way of a nice behind the goal feed from Rich Peverley, who had two assists in the game and was a +1. Kane’s second tally came with just under 33 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into OT.
“You have to get those wins”, the Thrashers’ first-round draft pick in 2009 lamented. “But at the same time, that point could be huge down the road [when it comes to making the playoffs]. Every point you get means a lot”.
To that point, Atlanta picked up 3 of a possible 4 points from the Caps over the last two weeks. There’s my “silver lining” comment of this post.
As was the case in the two previous defeats earlier this week, Atlanta was undone by some sloppy play in their end of the ice as turnovers led to the first two Capitals goals. Semin scored the first of his three when he intercepted a Chris Mason wrap-around attempt from behind the goal. Semin then blasted home a shot from the right boards before Mason could get back into proper position. Then in the third, Washington was once again the beneficiary of a turnover when Ron Hainsey and Freddy Modin seemed to get their wires cross as Atlanta attempted to clear the zone. The gaff led to Semin’s second goal of the night.
The choppy internet feed I was following made it hard to tell which one was at fault, but the Caps play-by-play guys pinned it on Modin, so I’ll go with that.
Modin is now a –7 on the season with just one goal and no assists and has so far been a major disappointment.
Speaking of disappointments, Bryan Little and the score sheet continue to be distant friends. He has but 3 assists on the season, has been held without a point in six of the eight games and has but 13 shots in eight games played. He has no points, 3 SOG and is a –3 during the last three games.
Little is rapidly moving to the front of the milk carton photo line.
Overall, Washington got off 44 shots on Chris Mason while the players in the visiting white jerseys mustered 32 of their own.
Mason turned aside 40 shots on the night in taking the loss. So far he’s been the goalie of record in all eight games and has a 3.54 GAA and .908 SV%. The veteran netminder is certainly getting a good taste of what it’s like to play behind a Thrashers defense, facing 283 shots in 441:06 TOI. That’s the equivalent of facing 38 and a half shots for every 60 minutes played.
And that, my friends, is un-good.
As a team, the Thrashers are allowing a whopping 37.6 SA/G, only Anaheim’s 40.0 is worse. We can gripe and moan all we want about certain players and their performances so far, but to me this is the root cause for most of what ails this Thrashers team eight games into the season. That’s a team stat and all are responsible for it.