On Tuesday night, the Capitals lost at home 5-1 to the Buffalo Sabres, the team they were tied with for the final playoff spot in the East. I don’t know if this game would have been any prettier if I were rink-side as I have been for nine seasons photographing the Capitals for Inside Hockey. I do know that it was pretty ugly from the press box.
Here are my observations of the game, from the six snapshots I would have taken if I were down by the ice.
Snapshots 1 and 2
Ok, let’s start with the positive… sort of. Two minutes into the game, Jeff Schultz misplays the puck in the defensive end and Braden Holtby is forced to make a great kick save with his left leg. Later in the first period, Sabres Thomas Vanek has a great opportunity, but Holtby makes a great kick save with his right leg. Unfortunately, kick saves lead to rebounds, which lead to goals, which lead to Holtby being pulled early in the second period with the score 3-0.
Now for the just plain ugly. Capitals on power play with three minutes remaining in the second. Ovechkin unsuccessfully tries to keep the puck in the zone. Sabres Jason Pominville races for the puck, and Ovie is forced to play defense. Unfortunately, he winds up face down on the ice as Pominville scores short-handed, making the game 4 to 1, and out of reach.
Midway thru the third period, the Sabres have a 3 on 1 break-away with Mike Green the only Caps defender. I do not know if this was Green’s intention, but it appeared that he lay down on the ice and was making snow angels. I’m sure that isn’t what it was, but that is what it looked like. 5-1 Buffalo.
I think this one was the worst. With three minutes left in the game, the Sabres’ Tyler Ennis took a sharp-angle shot past replacement goalie Michal Neuvirth’s ear and hit the far post. I say this missed shot was the worst, because now it seemed like the Sabres were just mocking the Caps.
Picture a goal with a goalie in front of it. But the goalie’s face is shaded and there is a big question mark in front of it. If (don’t laugh), but if the Capitals make the playoffs, who is the goalie?
At the end of the first period, Sabres Marcus Folingo had the puck along the boards in Washington’s offensive zone. He faced a gantlet of Capitals trying to free the puck, but kept his balance and cleared the puck. It was an impressive show of strength and puck handling skills for a first year player. Personally, while I was hoping for a “Folingo Leap,” a signature celebration move of his father Mike Folingo. With six goals this month, Folingo is a player to watch.
Capitals pregame video on the arena big screen features a hooded, “mystery” Capital whose identity is only revealed at the end. This game, it was Alexander Semin. Normally, the secret Cap receives a nice round of applause from the home crowd. To me, Semin only got a lukewarm reception. Ironically, Semin later would get the Capitals’ only goal of the night, and probably had the best game for the Caps.