Senators 4, Caps 3 (OT)
With the seven regulars out of the lineup, the Caps needed a strong team effort tonight in Ottawa. And for about 40 minutes, that's exactly what they got.
Then in the third, the Senators came out hard and the Caps suffered a collective letdown of epic proportions.
They took three penalties (at least two were certainly deserved) in the last 14 minutes after taking none before that. They were out-shot 18-3 in the final 20 and 4-0 in overtime. A once comfortable two goal lead was gone.
In the words of David Steckel (who blamed himself for the Senators' second and third goals) the Caps "mentally shut it down" after Jay Beagle gave them a 3-1 lead with his first NHL goal midway through the second period.
Go check out my game story, then come back for a few quick notes/thoughts on a game the Caps let slip away:
*Semyon Varlamov deserved better tonight. It's really noticeable how much calmer and more in control he's gotten over the past year. Unfortunately for him, there was a little a goalie could to save the Caps on a night when they decided, collectively, to stop playing in the third period.
*The Caps have lost four of their last five games, and they've blown a lead in each of the losses: 2-0 in New Jersey; 1-0 vs. Montreal; 1-0 in Toronto and 3-1 tonight.
*Players and coaches never want to make excuses. But they were forced to use four players who were in Hershey earlier this month and two others who might have been scratches with a healthy roster. The lack of experience and the drop off in skill is definitely noticeable.
*Rookie defenseman John Carlson played only 11:33 tonight. His ice time, in fact, has decreased in each of his three games, going from a high of 17:24 against Montreal.
*Mike Green notched an assist to extend his point streak to seven games was named the third star by Ottawa radio. But the defenseman was critical of his own performance.
"Brutal game," he tweeted. "Def not happy with my performance. Don't hate. See you on Wed caps fans. Your the best!"
*Alex Ovechkin disputed his roughing call that led to the Senators' third goal. He said Chris Campoli went low as he delivered the check, giving it the appearance that he tried to crush him with a high hit.
"I think he just go low and I just hit him," Ovechkin said. "But I don't take a penalty."
What Ovechkin didn't dispute was the main reason the Caps dropped into a tie with the Penguins atop the Eastern Conference.
"We stopped playing in the third period and [took] too much penalties," he said.
The Caps are scheduled to practice at noon tomorrow. I had hoped to make it, but I just got an automated call from United Airlines saying my flight - scheduled to takeoff tomorrow at 9 a.m. - has been delayed by weather. Not sure how they know that already, but whatever.
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