Immediately after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, Brooks Laich blamed himself for the play that led to the game-winning goal by John Tavares.
Caught out at the end of his shift, Laich said he was fatigued when he went to retrieve the puck inside the Washington blue line and didn’t make the smart play to get the puck to Mike Green.
“I wanted to send it back behind the net. I didn’t think I could get Mike direct. I didn’t want to turn one over in the middle in front of our net so I sent it behind the net,” Laich said. “Bad angle, bad decision by myself. I put Mike in trouble and it resulted in the winning goal.”
While Laich took the blame and said he apologized to Green for putting the defenseman in a bad position, once the 27-year-old blue-liner had control of the puck it should have been a routine play to protect it.
Laich’s pass caromed off the end boards and bounced off the back of the net, and Green was able to settle it down and gain possession of the puck along the goal line. He then tried to pull the puck back through his feet to avoid Islanders winger Matt Moulson but it wound up hitting his skate.
He lost the puck in his feet, stepped over it and Moulson was able to steal it away before Green could find it again. Moulson fed a pass to an oncoming Tavares, who beat Braden Holtby short side for the decisive tally. Green was not made available to reporters after the game.
“Not a good interchange between Brooksie and Greenie. Brooksie was tired, so he just wanted to bank it to him, and it bounced – it was obviously bouncing,” Coach Adam Oates said. “A play that I’m sure those two guys would like back. A tough play for Greenie. He bounced it right at his feet, and he was just trying to make a play. He probably should have had it in the corner.”
Holtby said he lost track of Tavares because he was trying to monitor where the puck was.
“It’s just a strange play. Brooks tried to go off the wall to Green and I think it hit funny along the boards, just one of those plays where it kind of handcuffed Greener and I was too busy trying to see the play develop behind the net to notice where Tavares was. I have to look at it again. I’m not real sure what my positioning was, I was kind of surprised he had any room on that short side.”
The devil is in the details. Despite being able to rally from a two-goal deficit and take control of the contest in the third period, that error was the difference between the Capitals obtaining any points against the Islanders.
“Most of the goals will be details that cost you goals. Positioning or maybe the puck you’re close to the blue line, you might want to just throw it out of the zone. We come back, misplayed puck and then next thing you know it’s behind the net,” Mike Ribeiro said. “You cannot judge the game on that play. I think it’s a 60-minute game and there’s other plays in the game that we could’ve done better. Obviously it’s disappointing, especially with the way we were playing after the first period. We need to forget and get ready for the next one now.”