Capitals' Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the least opportune time...against the Penguins.
The Caps were absolutely dominant for good portions of tonight's game and seemed to have things well in hand. So naturally, the following series of events occur:
- After almost a whole game with only one Caps penalty (and after Joe B. and Locker have said over and over that special teams have not been a factor), Morrisonn takes a penalty in the waning minutes. The Penguins then score with 4 seconds left in the infraction.
- Sergei Gonchar plays his typical turnover-ridden game and is an accomplice to two of the Caps' three goals. He gets the overtime winner.
- Thanks to some hard work by Boyd Gordon in his return, Crosby is fairly toothless all night and picks up just a secondary assist on the phantom Armstrong goal. The one time Crosby gets loose? It's to dish the puck back to Gonchar for the aforementioned game-winner.
- Milan Jurcina has a great defensive game but is unlucky enough to be in the path of the puck not once but twice and deflects two Penguins goals right into the net.
- The Caps lose Johnson for 2-4 weeks with a sprained knee. They then lose Ovechkin to a leg laceration, an injury that keeps him out of the last fifteen minutes of the game because the doctor can't get to him fast enough. (Um, are you kidding me??)
Against any other team you have to kind of shrug and say yes, it was their game to lose but things happen and good players can pull a win out of a loss for their team. Against the Penguins...this is not the reaction most Caps fans will likely have.
Instead it's another loss to Pittsburgh, the ninth loss in ten games since the lockout. It's the second straight loss in which the Caps were the better team. And it's a game that has the potential to deflate any momentum the Caps had from last night's win and their play through the majority of tonight's game.
If you want to take some good things out of this one, there are a few. First of all, let's not kid ourselves - the Caps played a hell of a game and really took the hometown crowd out of it, even when Pittsburgh had the lead. Their puck possession was masterful for long stretches. Crosby was not a factor until the end of the game. They were disciplined and physical. Olie made some huge saves and looked sharp in relief of Johnny. Donald Brashear got a goal.
Most importantly, if we look at the big picture, the Caps get a point. They move one point closer to 8th place, one point closer to the Islanders, Leafs and Thrashers (who all lost tonight). And with Tampa falling to the Habs, the Caps are no longer the sole residents of last place in the conference.
...that's something, I guess.