The Tampa Bay Lightning, on the other hand, played the full 60. And guess who won?
Tampa had a 5-2 lead after two periods, through which the Caps only managed to lob 9 shots at Marc Denis, arguably the league's worst starting goaltender. The Caps stepped up their play and put 15 pucks on goal in the third period (two of them scoring), but it wasn't quite enough and the Caps took a 5-4 loss to a team that had only won one of its last nine games.
Last season I would have been positive about this loss because they battled back so well, and really if Dainius Zubrus didn't have some sort of aversion for the wide open net the game would have gone to overtime. (Zubrus had Denis down and out and a wide open goal with only a few minutes left in the game, but he rang his shot off the post.) But this year I'm disappointed. The team came out flat against an opponent that has struggled, then showed just how lopsided the game should have been once they started playing in the third period.
I guess that's a good indication of how far the team has come in a year, but it won't take too many of those "should have had" points to really cause the Capitals some damage in the playoff race.
I think just about every Caps fan has high hopes for this season given the team's play of late, but I can't help but watch a game like last night's and think that maybe they're still a year away.
It's a young team, though, and they can prove a lot by bouncing back against the Devils on Friday.
I'm going to that game as game four of my 11-game plan. And I'm taking my mom. And I'll be sitting next to my brother, who will be wearing a Devils jersey. So the Caps need to win.
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