Despite all the penalties the Capitals took in the first two periods against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday, they still came roaring back threatening to tie the game or win it outright with a flurry of 19 shots in the third period.
But unlike the previous seven games that Washington seemed able to find whatever necessary switch or clutch bounce in the most favorable direction it couldn’t crack the scoreboard again. Nikolai Khabibulin was a game-changer in the third period, but he also got a little help from the goal post and crossbar on shots by Dennis Wideman and Alex Ovechkin, respectively.
“I think you need breaks to win but they made their own breaks just like we made our own breaks in the previous seven games,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Bounces are part of the game; either you get them or you don’t get them. When you’re doing the right things, you get the breaks. When you’re maybe doing things that you shouldn’t be doing, you don’t get the breaks.”
The Capitals two most recent games before their extended four day layoff and trip out to western Canada were filled with the type of timely goals and instances of being in the right place at the right time that seemed absent in Edmonton. For example, Mathieu Perreault’s late second-period tally against the Red Wings or Alex Ovechkin’s goal in the waning seconds of the first period against the Flyers.
“That happens, though, sometimes you just don’t get [the bounces],” Karl Alzner said. “You see the last two games us against Philly and Detroit we were getting all those and today we don’t. It’s just the way the puck bounces. We definitely worked hard and threw everything at them , it just didn’t happen.”
Said Tomas Vokoun: “They had some luck, hit the post a few times in the third period sometimes that’s going to happen. They had more puck luck [Thursday] than us.”
After the game, regardless of their frustration with an unknown penchant for visiting the Rexall Place penalty box, the Capitals seemed pleased with their work ethic in the contest and had the sense of a team that knew it couldn’t go undefeated forever.
“It’s 82 games. You cant go 82-0,” Joel Ward said. “It wasn’t like we didn’t try, it wasn’t like we didn’t have the effort -- honestly we just didn’t score. We had chances they just didn’t go across the line for us it was just one of those days.”