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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.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 24, 2009; 12:33 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tonight's lineup: Caps at Senators
Next: Morning roundup: Third-period breakdown



Posted by: Jaymagz | November 24, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Best nugget of info from all that was Green's tweet.. he's a key to the Caps' future and all -- but he was BRUTAL tonight!

Don't mean to 'hate on' him.. at least he recognized it too. I'm sure he'll be better Wednesday.


Posted by: thetick73 | November 24, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Mike Green was awful. But 27 minutes tonight, 32 saturday, 26 friday, who could blame him. We need to get healthy.

Posted by: DFuse87 | November 24, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

This is such a frustrating team to watch. So talented, yet they let their fans and themselves down way too much.

Posted by: cbs75 | November 24, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Why is Greenie on the PK?? He's logging so many minutes the rest of the game, and obviously he's not defensively minded. BB get with the program!

Also, it was devastating to watch Ovie slacking on the backcheck which caused the goal. Him and Backstrom are not playing well lately. Bad sign.

Posted by: BarraPuta | November 24, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering if the chronic mental errors and penalties in the 3rd period (all season -- not just this game) are the product of fatigue. Are there conditioning issues, or are the Caps coming out too jacked early in the game, and don't have enough in the tank to finish. Also, Backstrom has not been playing his usual creative game of late -- is he playing through injury, or just adjusting to being without the Alexes and Knuble?

Posted by: tfirey | November 24, 2009 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Three great deflections and a completely screened shot from the point. You've got to feel for Varly in this one.

Green - I know you're tired and have a lot of weight on your shoulders, but if you stab at the puck rather than taking the man or continuing to skate backwards (either one really) in overtime when numbers are already short, we're going to get burned like that every time. It happened twice there!

3 shots in the last 22 minutes of the game. I'm actually gonna blame the schedule for some of that. We've played 3 games in 4 nights each of the past 4 weekends. After the 3 day break we had earlier this month, we won our next two games. I think we'll see some improvement Wednesday and even more this weekend against the Habs.

Posted by: Raber | November 24, 2009 2:34 AM | Report abuse

BarraPuta, agree with the Ovi backchecking on the OT goal. Now, I'm not one who says that Ovi never plays defense 'cause I know he does, but would it be too much to ask him to tie up Fisher's stick?

Posted by: dfe1 | November 24, 2009 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Seriously.....If we would take a page out of Montreal's book this team would be so much better. And its nothing to do with the injuries because the young guys are just as talented. But we have to play more defense. The best offense is a good defense. Montreal shut us down defensively and took advantage of our "run and gun" offense. I'm probably the only one who see's it this way but with this current style of play, the trip to the post season wont last long.

Posted by: CapsFan44 | November 24, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

CapsFan44 -
Couldn't agree more. But yeah, around here you just think the sky is falling.

Posted by: ShutDownStud | November 24, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

So what else is new. Capitals take a lead, let the opponent tie it up in the last period or minutes, then lose in OT or SO. At least this is better than last year when the Capitals would be trailing going into the last period, stage a furious comeback to tie it and then lose in OT or SO. GMGM can address this year's issue easier by just getting more physical players to clear the puck in the last period when they have a lead. I hope!

Posted by: JohnWWW | November 24, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry Mike but you are a professional and the don't hate comment means nothing. You screwed up big time and so suck it up, take your medicine and get your head out of your behind. Don't give me the excuse of being tired. Things happen in a game, let downs and such but Greenie made two terribly obvious mistakes in overtime that led to two 2 on 1 break aways that cost the game. That is not a let down but laziness and Greenie continues to reach and not move his feet which is nothing but laziness.

Posted by: Caps73 | November 24, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Tired of all of the excuses. The players need to show up, play an entire 60 minute game and be held accountable if they don't. If you can't put together a 60 minute effort shouldn't be playing. Mike Green should be worried about showing up and making plays, not the haters. Glad to see the players priorities are in order.

Posted by: mdterpsgrad | November 24, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

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