WASHINGTON, December 24, 2013 — Down 3-2 with three minutes left in regulation, an amazing wrist shot bounced under the cross bar, down onto the ice and out of the net. The entire Verizon Center crowd erupted in joy as they thought Alex Ovechkin led his team back from the jaws of defeat once again.
The shot was reviewed and found to be inconclusive, resulting in a no-goal. The Caps fans then erupted in a, “Ref you suck,” chant for the ages and the Capitals fell to the first place Anaheim Ducks, 3-2.
The Capitals started off the game hot and played very well throughout the first period. With 12:39 left in the first, No. 84 Mikhail Grabovski scored his tenth point in 11 games, making the score 1-0 Caps.
The goal was a perfect give-and-go passing sequence between Grabovski and Troy Brower. Brower one-timed the pass from Grabovski who then one-timed the return-pass into the back corner of the net. Grabovski then drew a penalty that led to the Caps’ second goal scored by Nicklas Backstrom, his ninth of the season.
Backstrom is known more for his passing but make no mistake, he has one of the best wrist shots in the NHL. During the Caps’ power play in the first period, Anaheim’s defenseman, Francois Beauchmin, hesitated and did not immediately mark Backstrom who had possession of the puck. Backstrom took immediate advantage of the lax defense and wristed a shot right between the goal post and Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.
With 2:45 left in the first period, the Ducks narrowed the deficit to one as No. 7 Andrew Cogliano scored his tenth goal of the season by hanging out in front of the net and finishing No. 11 Saku Koivu’s pass from behind the net.
The Capitals faced seven minutes of penalty time in the second period. Just when it looked like the Capitals were going to escape the second period by hanging onto their 2-1 lead, the Caps let a goal slip past them with only 26 seconds left in the period. For the second time in the night, the Ducks crashed the net and were successful passing from behind the goal to the bigger Anaheim forwards who were clogging the middle of their offensive zone.
The final period was a defensive struggle as both goaltenders made several great saves from open chances. The key sequence of the game occurred with around six minutes left in the game. Capitals left-winger Jason Chimera was stuffed at point-blank range in front of the net.
Seconds later the Ducks did the same thing. Groubauer blocked a shot a close range and it looked like he answered the call as both goalies were dueling it out. However, immediately after Groubauer’s block, the puck deflected out to an open defenseman, Hampus Lindholm near the blue line. Lindholm scored his third goal of the season, beating Grubauer glove-side, making the score 3-2 Ducks.
Rookie goaltender, Philipp Grubauer held his own all night against a high-octane offense of Anaheim, stopping 26 of 29 shots. The Ducks rank third in the NHL in goals per game and had won eight straight games heading into tonight.
This was no easy challenge for a rookie goalie. Head Coach Adam Oates was pleased with Grubauer’s performance despite the loss.
Key Stat: The Capitals are 2-4-1 when they allow three or more goals in a game. When they hold the opponent to less than three goals, they are 8-2-1.
Gun Shy: The Caps have been out-shot in their last four games by a combined 142-96. When the Caps are out-shot in a game, their record is 12-12. However, when they out-shoot their opponent, their record is 6-2-1.
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