The Caps came home tonight hoping to shake off the penalty troubles that have been haunting them the past few outings and walk away with a 'V' against the New Jersey Devils. Now the Devils' goaltender needs no introduction as Martin Brodeur is a future Hall of Famer who last season surpassed the record for the greatest number of wins in the regular season previously held by Patrick Roy.
But Marty's fortress was not secured tight enough in the first period, as Mike Green (on his birthday no less) netted his first goal of the season and Mike Knuble pinged one right off of Brodeur's pad to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. Boudreau did a little tweaking of his lines putting Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble and Semin-Morrison-Laich together. Both those line combos had an impressive effort in the first period, which also saw a brief fight between the "Clarks" - Chris Clark and David Clarkson.
The Devils eventually got on the board at 8:18 in the second period as Brian Rolston snuck one through assisted by former Duck Rob Neidermayer. Brodeur showed why he is one of the most respected net minders in the League as he made show-stopping saves on both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green late in the second. However,the Caps kept the pressure on the visitors, outshooting them 18-13 at the end of the middle period.
The men in red were gifted with a power play opportunity after Bryce Salvador took a seat for roughing about six minutes into the final stanza. Shortly after, Brodeur nearly took Brooks Laich's head off with an inadvertent high stick, giving the home team a brief 5-on-3. The Devils killed off the 5-on-4 but they continued to draw the wrath of the guys in stripes as they drew a too many men call shortly after. Nick Backstrom committed a hold of his own seconds later and both team went 4-on-4 for a spell.
The Capitals could not clear the puck out of their end after a ridiculously long stint of offensive pressure by the Devils, resulting in a one-timer by tough guy David Clarkson to tie the game. Boyd Gordon took a slashing call (this is becoming a bad pattern for Gordo) and Jose Theodore was doing an Olympic gymnastics routine in his contribution to the successful penalty kill.
And for the second time in six games, we were headed to sudden death OT. Two minutes into OT, Brendan Morrison took an ill-timed tripping call, putting the Caps on a crucial penalty kill. And in a nail-biting penalty kill, Jose Theodore and the boys did an absolutely incredible job of stopping the pesky Devils as they swarmed his net. The seconds ticked off the clock and this one was going to the shootout.
Nick Backstrom was up first and in the words of one of my boys, made a "sick" shot against Marty. Shootout specialist Zach Parise was up next and scored. Alex Semin failed to net his slap shot, while Jamie Langenbrunner scored against Theo. And in a disappointing finish, Brodeur stopped the Great 8 to hand the Caps their fourth consecutive loss.
Though the boys performance tonight was a big improvement over Saturday's loss to Detroit, they still blew the lead and there were too many frustrating instances of not being able to clear the puck out of their zone and not converting with a man-advantage. The President trophy winning San Jose Sharks with newcomer Dany Heatley (who currently stands at the number two scoring spot just behind you-know-who) pay a visit on Thursday. Time to win one and get back on track...