Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Caps Punish Devils 5-2

All good things must come to an end and so did the Devils eight game winning streak as the Devils fell to the Washington Capitals last night 5-2.

Early it seemed as if the Devils had controlled the play and were on the verge of taking the lead, then the Devils got called for a too many men on the ice penalty and everything changed. Seeming as if the Devils would kill off the penalty, Alexander Semin sent a pass across ice and Mike Green roofed a shot to give the Capitals a 1-0. After the goal the Capitals took control of the game as they seemed to beat the Devils on every board battle and fore-checked two players down low forcing the Devils defensemen into turnovers and bad passes.

Four minutes later the Capitals scored again on the power-play, this time taking only four seconds to get a goal from Brad Laich off a set play off the face-off. An offensively talented Capitals would finish the night 3-for-4 on the power-play, which is the first time the Devils gave up more than one power-play against in the past twelve games.

The Devils tried to cut into a 3-0 Capitals lead, when Brian Rolston scored on a 5-on-3 power-play and then to start the third period Jamie Langebrunner scored shorthanded 41-seconds in to make the score 3-2.

The Capitals scored the back breaking goal, as Nylander's wrist shot from the right circle beat Clemmensen which gave the Caps a 4-2 lead and their third power-play goal of the night. The Caps got the power-play off a controversial call when Mike Rupp took the puck hard to the net and slid into the Caps goalie and received a goalie-interference penalty. All game the Caps seemed to get away with clear penalties and the Devils undisciplined play made a huge difference in the outcome of the game.

The Devils now need to put this game behind them as the Devils will head to Atlanta on Friday before coming home for a five game home-stand which starts on Saturday against the Kings. The Devils will also see the Rangers on Monday and Islanders on Wednesday before the weekend when the leaders in the Eastern and Western Conferences come into town (Bruins - Friday / Sharks -Sunday).

The Capitals played exceptional hockey last night and is one of the most talented teams in the game, with players like Ovechkin, Green, Semin, Federov, Backstrom, Laich and Nylander. A second round match-up could be inevitable for the Devils and Washington. Washington has a clear lead in their division, the Bruins have basically solidified the 1st in the conference and if the Devils win the Atlantic, the Devils and Caps should be favored to win their first round series. The Caps are a team we should be scared of with their offensive talent and if they add a defenseman they could be a hard out.

- Brodeur will start practicing in a week to ten days and should be ready for game action in another ten to fourteen days after that. Sutter has made it clear the Devils will not lean on Brodeur to play every game down the stretch once he comes back, but will work him in slowly and him and Clemmensen both ready for playoff hockey.
-The Devils need to get more out of Zubrus and Gionta. Gionta only has 10 points (2G-8A) in the last 15 games and Zubrus has 8 points (3G-5A) in his last 15 games. In that same time linemate Patrick Elias has 17 points (5G-12A). The second line has not been as productive as early in the season and it may be time to make a change on that line.

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