Tuesday Recap: A Crushing DefeatPosted on April 01, 2014 by Adam Stringham
In order to defeat the Dallas Stars the Capitals had to be the better team at even strength, and contain the Seguin line. Through the first 14 minutes of their tilt Tuesday night the Capitals were doing that. After being hemmed in by Seguin during their first shift Backstrom and his mates clearly had the better of Dallas' top line. I noted 3 consecutive shifts by the Backstrom line that resulted in extended zone time. The Capitals appeared to be playing with a sense of desperation that has been missing from their game for the majority of the season. As cliche as it sounds the Capitals appeared to be doing all of the little things right.
During a rare foray into the offensive zone by the Seguin line, an errant swat at the puck by John Carlson resulted in Jamie Benn gloving the puck down in the slot. A quick release by Benn coupled with a Tyler Seguin deflection beat Halak. It was Seguin's 33rd goal of the year (15:08 of the first period).
Following the goal the Capitals once again showed that they lack mental fortitude, failing to generate a shot attempt during the final 5 minutes of the period.
I asked Karl Alzner if there was a change in team mentality following the Stars' first goal:
"We still seemed the same; we still seemed to have that jump, some energy, it didn't feel like the wind was completely taken out of our sails. So no, but clearly it had something to do with it I guess because we did not generate a lot after that".
Instead of regaining their composure at the beginning of the second period the Capitals picked back up where they left off. Multiple odd man rushes by the Stars finally took its toll when Ray Whitney converted a 2 on 1 past Halak for his 9th goal of the year 9:16 into the 2nd period.
In yet another display of mental fragility; the Capitals gave up another goal just 34 seconds after Whitney’s tally. Dustin Jeffery scored his first goal of the year to give the Stars a commanding 3-0 lead. After the third goal allowed Halak was pulled in favor of Braden Holtby.
Occasionally teams bounce back into a game when they pull their goalie; that was not the case tonight. It took the Capitals almost four and a half minutes to get a shot attempt towards Kari Lehtonen after pulling Halak. The Capitals showed a little life in a late period power play, but they were unable to convert.
The third period was more of the same from the Caps. The Capitals generated more shots in the third because of they were trailing significantly, but they were still unable to dent the twine. The Stars would add both an even strength tally from Jeffery and a shorthanded goal from Garbutt to complete the 5-0 rout. The shutout was Kari Lehtonen's 4th of the year, and it was the Capitals' 7th time being shutout this season.
Thanks to an overtime win by the Colorado Avalanche the Capitals are only two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, and still have a chance of making the playoffs. The Blue Jackets still have a game in hand.
Eric Fehr was clearly frustrated with the way that the Capitals performed in every aspect of the game. Fehr was the only Capital skater who finished the night with an even +/-:
"There wasn't one part of the game tonight that was good enough 5-on-5, power play, penalty kill, everything. It looked like we weren't prepared. We talked about everything, but it looked more like a preseason game for us than a game that we needed to win to make the playoffs."
Even if this team was able to make it into the playoffs, their tenure would likely be short. Adam Oates expressed this sentiment to his team during the second intermission:
"We can't come back playing wrong. If somehow we make the playoffs and we play like this who are we kidding? We have to figure out a way to get better together".
The Capitals will likely have to go 5-0-1 in their remaining six games in order to make the playoffs.
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