Saturday, 11 October 2003
Capitals lose a close one
If football is a game of inches, then hockey is a game of seconds.
The Washington Capitals opened the 2003-2004 season on Thursday, decimating the New York Islanders, 6-1, in front of a boisterous crowd at the phone booth. Rooky-sensation-to-be Boyd Gordon launched his NHL career on the top line with Jaromir Jagr and Kip Miller — and registered an assist on his very first shift. The Capitals' other teenage rookies played better than expected, too.
Tonight the Capitals took the ice for game #2 against Atlanta. The Thrashers have not made the playoffs in the club's five-year history, and the team is still mourning the death of Dan Snyder (and the severe injuries of Dany Heatley) in a tragic car accident last week. You can never count out any team in the NHL, but tonight was should have been easier for the Caps than it seemed via the radio. Boyd Gordon scored his first NHL goal tonight, just over three minutes into the game. Sergei Gonchar looks like he is in midseason form already, tallying on the power play early in the next period. The rest of the game, unfortunately, belonged to Atlanta.
The Thrashers scored four goals in the first two periods and held the Capitals at bay for most of that time. I cannot complain about the Caps' defense — they limited their opponent to 19 shots, after limiting New York to 18 shots on Thursday. (If this trend continues, the future looks very bright!) Meanwhile, the offensive effort cannot be faulted, either. The Caps took 30 shots tonight and 37 shots on Thursday. The main difference seems to be in their ability to finish.
So why is hockey a game of seconds? Because Jagr brought the Capitals to within one goal with less than three minutes to play, and the team pressed hard for the final two minutes. Thrashers' goaltender, Pasi Nurminen, may have aged 120 days in those 120 seconds. With 2.7 seconds to play, the Capitals took their timeout after forcing a faceoff deep in the Thrashers' zone. The puck squirted back to the point at which point the MSNBC feed of the radio broadcast inexplicably cut off!
Reading the post-game accounts, I learned that the final shot hit the post. Lucky for MSNBC, else I might have written something rather nasty in this space.