Final Score: Ducks 2, Caps 3
First Period Recap: This game started with a bang as the Capitals took an early lead, scoring just 2:11 into the first period. Mike Green's point shot got blocked by Nick Bonino then Jason Chimera had two shots on the rebound blocked by Bonino and saved by Jonas Hiller, respectively but Hiller couldn't cover it and Joel Ward tapped it in for the 1-0 lead.
Fifty-nine seconds later, the Ducks responded. Andrew Cogliano and Ben Lovejoy played a little give and go on a 3-on-2 rush with Saku Koivu driving the net and Lovejoy's shot squeeked through the arm of Jaroslav Halak to tie the game.
After the Ducks' goal for about the next five to ten minutes the Ducks carried play and each of the lines created opportunities by going to the net. After that stretch though, it was Washington that had the better of the play for the rest of the period.
At least three or four times in the period Capitals defensemen simply blew their tires in the defensive zone, but the Ducks weren't able to make anything out of it.
With just over three minutes left, the teams traded horrible turnovers. First was Francois Beauchemin, coming from behind his net, missing Daniel Winnik with a pass, luckily Troy Brouwer wasted the opportunity and then Koivu made a good defensive play to turn the puck back up ice. Later on the shift Halak misplayed a dump in right onto the stick of Winnik. Hampus Lindholm's shot didn't get through but laid in the slot for what seemed like an eternity before Jacob Silfverberg got the shot on goal, but with almost no pace whatsoever.
As the period came to a close, Koivu was sent off for interfering with Nicklas Backstrom. The Ducks had a chance to split the Caps' dangerous power play in two if they could get to the end of the period, but it only took 21 seconds for Washington to regain their lead. The Ducks seemed to have Alex Ovechkin covered in case of the famous one timer. A pass behind Ovie gave him the opportunity to find Backstrom with a long cross ice pass. Backstrom's shot was saved, but Marcus Johanssen tipped the rebound to Brouwer on the back post with a wide open net.
A deflating way to end the period which had spells of good play from each team.
Second Period Recap: Only two minutes into the second the Ducks had a huge chance to get it right back. It was a funny looking play when the seas just parted for Kyle Palmieri and he almost had a breakaway, but couldn't track down the puck before Halak came out to get it and the Caps were called for too many men on the ice. Right off the faceoff Brouwer cleared the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty and the Ducks went on a two man advantage for 1:51. They possessed the puck almost the entire time, had a few good jam plays in tight on Halak, and even hit a post but could not convert on the 5-on-3 or subsequent abbreviated power play.
For the next few minutes the Caps were on the front foot, but continually went offside, draining a lot of the flow from the game. With eight minutes left in the period, the Ducks got probably their best chance of the second. Lindholm made a great breakout pass to Cogliano with speed through the neutral zone and he zipped a pass right onto the tape of Winnik driving the far post, but Halak did well to get square to it and cover up so there was no rebound opportunity. Winnik also drew a penalty with the play, as he was hooked by Mike Green.
The power play was much like the 5-on-3 in that the Ducks had solid possession for the vast majority of the time, but this time it was clear that the Caps' PK was all about pressuring the points and not allowing the Ducks a lot of time to make decisions. It worked well for them.
After the kill Cogs and Mathieu Perreault almost had an odd man rush going, but when Perreault dropped the puck to Cogliano high in the zone, it was his turn to lose an edge and the play died on the vine.
Hiller made the clear cut save of the ame with about a minute and a half left. Ward pulled the puck from behind the Ducks' net and threw it into the crease. Hiller got the paddle down, but the rebound went right to Chimera. Hiller had to drop his stick in order to dive across and make the save on Chimera, getting his glove hand on the puck.
Down at the other end the Cogliano, Winnik, Koivu line had another great forechecking shift in which Winnik had some daylight at the side of the net but couldn't jam it home and ended up drawing another penalty as he chased the puck behind the net.
Before the end of the period Ryan Getzlaf got a puck to Bonino in the slot, but he redirected it just wide and the power play carried over into the final period.
Third Period Recap: The crowd was getting very restless with the power play unit until the very last second when Perreault walked the puck down to nearly the hash marks and used Carl Alzner as a screen to wrist a shot past Halak tying the game at two. In the arena there was one second remaining on the penalty to Jay Beagle, but upon further review the scoring was changed so that the official time of the goal was after the power play was over. But for all intents and purposes that was a more legitimate power play goal than the last one they scored in the Montreal game.
Unfortunately with the Ducks having had five straight man advantages, you could just smell a make up call coming for Washington and on the next shift Matt Beleskey was tagged for slashing Beagle. It only took the Caps eight seconds to get Ovechkin the one timer he was looking for and regain the one goal lead on the power play.
Most of the rest of the period was taken up by Washington winning all of the board battles and running large chunks of time off the clock on the perimeter of the rink. Surprisingly the Ducks did have one more power play chance, but it was their least effective of the night, as the Caps were already in full defend the lead mode going in.
Boudreau pulled Hiller with roughly a minute and a half left in the period and the Ducks had two good chances with the extra attacker. First was a wrap around by Perreault that Halak got a toe to with only 11 seconds left in the game. Boudreau called his time out at that time and off the ensuing faceoff Getzlaf made a really nice move to get the puck to Perreault in the slot for a one timer, but it hit Patrick Maroon in front and Halak covered it as it trickled in.
After that tempers flared. Beagle and Cogliano were given rouging minors and since the Ducks' defensemen came in below the circles the faceoff was taken outside the zone to effectively end the game.
Note: I couldn't really fit it anywhere else, but I should say that Stephane Robidas did make his Ducks debut tonight. He looked decent, paired with Bryan Allen for most of the night, played 13:32, made a couple of nice outlet passes, but was quiet overall. Considering he hadn't played since November it was a good first game back and we'll be looking forward to getting him back into game shape for the rest of the regular season.
The Good: The Ducks had the better of the play for most of the night, even if it was due in large part to numerous power plays. The PP had its chances and came just about as close as possible to breaking through with a goal as it can without technically putting one on the board.
The Bad: The finishing wasn't there tonight. As I said above the Ducks had good chances for most of the night, but when presented with them just couldn't capitalize. Halak was on the right side of almost all of the rebounds he left out there. It's a good sign that they were getting those chances, but they were just a hair off target or a split second late with most of them.
The Ugly: Obviously the penalty kill was taken to school by the Caps power play and Ovechkin in particular. The Ducks spent 10:09 on the PP and only technically got one, while the Caps scored two in their first 27 seconds of PP time. I guess it's no big shame to give up PPGs to Washington as they're right at the top of the league, but it was the big difference in the game tonight. And as a result the Ducks go into San Jose on Thursday two points back of the division lead.
3rd Icehole: Francois Beauchemin - After such a wonderful performance in LA on Saturday, he just didn't seem sharp. He made a couple of egregious turnovers from behind his own net early on and missed like a bull charging a matador on a hip check in the first period. It was a slightly sloppy game from Beauch, but as none of his miscues really cost the Ducks he's just the third Icehole.
2nd Icehole: Jaroslav Halak - The Ducks did a good job of getting right into his crease, but aside from the first goal he gave up, Halak was solid throughout, making 43 saves.
1st Icehole: Alex Ovechkin - The engine of the Washington power play was the true difference in this game. Even though he didn't get a point on the first power play goal he created it by drawing defenders and making a really nice cross ice pass. Also his goal on the PP stood up as the game winner.
Next Game: Thursday March 20, The biggest game of the season in San Jose, 7:30 pm PT