For much of this game, it looked like the hockey gods were gonna do what they often do after they've beaten you down: Follow up a weekend of late blown leads by giving your team a laugher, an easy win running away. An easy win against a team that recently beat you after erasing a two-goal third-period lead.
Instead the hockey gods did you one better: They played Lucy and took the football yet again, only this time it was a long band-aid pull instead of a sudden stabbing. A not entirely deserved 4-1 New York Islanders lead was squandered in methodical fashion, with blown assignments and impotent powerplays paving the way for the Washington Capitals' three-goal comeback and shootout win.
Memo: Just because he "only" had 27 goals coming into the game doesn't mean you shouldn't cover Alex Ovechkin, the guy who beat the Isles last time this happened.
John Tavares hit 30 goals, Matt Moulson hit 30 goals (because he claimed he didn't deflect Moulson's shot), but all of that got lost in the debauchery that followed.
After the collapse came overtime. This overtime, when viewed in a "season's lost anyway" kind of way, was actually entertaining. Both teams offered lots of dipsy-doodles, massive mistakes, and isolation plays that accompany chaotic 4-on-4 play. If the outcome of the game mattered, I'd have had my second cardiac of the night. Absent real stakes, however, it became an entertaining curiosity. They also almost killed Moulson with a shot from the point, which would've been an appropriate ending.
Alas, the game carried onward to the shootout, which provided its own dose of curiosities: Not only did Frans Nielsen have the goalie beat yet somehow hit the post and missed on his Backhand of Judgment, but Dmitry Orlov -- who scored a pretty, handsy goal earlier in the game -- completely lost the handle on the puck before he reached the slot. There are all kinds of shootout flubs, but that one was neither a trip nor a stumble -- just an outright flub.
Naturally, Matt Hendricks -- who has four goals on the year, but apparently possesses a deceptive stutter-step shootout move -- finished things off by deke-ing Evgeni Nabokov out of his pants in the shootout's sudden death period.
Now Consider Your Strengths: Milan Jurcina resumed his War On Shot-Blockers, sending two Capitals to the bench in agony within the first 10 minutes. He should consider just picking opposing forwards off one-by-one, Duck Hunt style.
Powerplay Sans PAP: Was interested to see how the powerplay was set up without P.A. Parenteau in the lineup, and we found out just 12 seconds into the gamewhen Jeff Schultz put the puck over the glass. Travis Hamonic was added to the point, with former point man Frans Nielsen dropping down to the boards. Like Parenteau, Hamonic is a righty, but of course that attribute (the only one on the unit) wasn't used in the same way.
They picked up a couple of powerplay goals -- one by Hamonic, who dropped down low to bank a Tavares pass off of the defenseman -- but don't assume life was rosy on that unit without Parenteau. It was mostly uninspired, with one fortuitous goal and one by Tavares on the rush.
David Ullstrom, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey manned the second unit and created a few early chances. In fact, the craziest thing about the powerplay tonight was that there were so many of them: Halfway through the third period, the ledger had five powerplays for the Islanders, zero for the Caps. (Mostly fair calls -- thanks for playing, Jay Beagle! -- though a hook drawn by John Tavares was so soft, it could only be read as a make-up call for a blatant uncalled hook drawn by Josh Bailey.)
Fumbling with the Lead: When the Islanders opened a 4-1 lead in the second period, you might've breathed a sigh of relief. But a whiff by Frans Nielsen helped concede one goal late in the second (just 53 seconds left) and a failure to notice Dmitry Orlov by Michael Grabner just 1:53 into the third made it a very uncomfortable game.
That discomfort became outright agony when Ovechkin (Oh, is he good? Should he be watched?) was allowed not one, not two, but three consecutive shots to score the tying goal with his second of the night.
That's where I went numb. At least our game thread -- if you're into gallows humor and don't mind salty language here and there -- was filled with comedy to make light of the wounds.
Sad Tweet of the Night:
Prescient Tweet of the Night (2nd intermission):
I'd analyze the game itself further, but the Islanders were handed five powerplays to the Capitals' none, Moulson's goal came on a downright seeing-eye bounce and Travis Hamonic (three points, also lost in this) scored on another lucky bounce, yet still this Islanders squad squandered that fortune at home.
They play again Thursday, home to the Flyers. So it goes.