Thursday, October 29, 2009

Capitals Make Life Too Interesting Again

For the first 25 minutes of their game in Atlanta, the Capitals were firmly in control, as Alex Ovechkin's three points had staked the team to a 3-0 lead and without their top star, the Thrashers seemed to be on the ropes.

However, as they did last week at Philips Arena, Washington began to take its foot off the gas, and the Capitals became too cute with the puck and passed up some good scoring chances to try and make a perfect pass, so despite a chance to bury Atlanta, the Thrashers chipped in two third-period goals to put the outcome in doubt until Mike Knuble slapped in an empty-netter with :52.1 left in regulation.

Like they have for much of their six-game win streak, the Capitals played enough good hockey to get the win, although they certainly could have made their lives easier by putting another goal or two in the net before going on cruise control.

Washington simply got too sloppy, allowing the Thrashers some prime chances and giving up 33 shots over the final 40 minutes and forcing Semyon Varlamov to have to make some good saves to preserve the win. The Caps even allowed a shorthanded breakaway, after having allowed two shorties in their previous three games.

Certainly, the Capitals' start was solid, with Ovechkin moving into the league lead in goals and points with two goals and one helper, and the sputtering power-play going two for their first three chances. But with a chance to put away the Thrashers halfway through the third, Washington's power-play was terrible, and poor coverage by Mike Green and Ovechkin didn't help as they gave up the best chance of the two-minute advantage.

Fortunately for the Capitals, one player who was good for 60 minutes was Varlamov, stopping 38 shots and moving to 5-0-0 on the season, making some great stops and keeping Washington ahead and keeping the win streak alive.

But, Washington now gets a chance to close out October with its ninth win of the month, against another team they had some trouble putting away on Long Island Saturday. The Capitals played roughly 25 minutes of good hockey in that game as well, the only difference is this one came at the end of the game and the team was able to erase a 2-0 deficit after a lackluster start.

To be sure, the Caps have been very good this month, dropping just two regulation games. But they certainly seem to be making some games more interesting than they need to be.

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