There are ways to score on a top-notch goaltender.
Giving him an unobscured look at the puck and failing to record a shot on net for most of the third period, however, are not among them.
But that’s exactly happened Saturday night at Verizon Center, where the Caps saw their six-game winning streak halted by Carey Price and the Canadiens, 2-1.
“They had a lot of urgency in their game,” Lars Eller said. “They battled hard. We had the puck a lot. We had a lot of zone time but we failed to sort of get bodies inside and get the puck inside at the same time.”
“It was too easy a night for Price,” the former Montreal center added. “Didn’t get shots. Didn’t get secondary [chances]. We just failed to get our nose dirty and get the puck in there. That was the step we were missing today.”
That they skipped such an all-important step was a bit surprising, given the caliber of goaltender they were facing and the fact that they had recently done a better job of getting to the net, creating screens, putting pucks in play and hunting for seconds.
But it didn’t happen against Shea Weber and Co.
As a team, Montreal blocked 21 shots—or the same number of shots the Capitals managed to put on Price.
”They were defending pretty well,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “And you got one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Price. He’s been outstanding. We didn’t make it hard enough on Carey. …Sometimes the other team is playing really well and they force you to get some of those dirty goals or garbage goals, whatever, and you have to make it hard on them. And we didn’t make it hard enough on them. Even in the third, they got into a pretty good defensive posture and we were still looking for the extra play, the extra play.”
Trotz continued: “Especially against quality goalies, you don’t want to get too fine. When you’re not getting a lot of looks because the other team is doing a good job of keeping you to the outside, you have to force yourself into their house a little bit, get in front of the net.”
They did not. But that wasn’t even their biggest problem in the third period as they scrambled to get back into the game.
For a span of 15:22 stretching from late in the second period until late in the third, the Capitals failed to muster a single shot on Price.
Forget about getting a body to the net. They couldn’t even get a puck there.
“To beat any goalie you have to get shots,” Eller said. “In the third, we didn’t even get a lot of shots. We made it hard for ourselves.”
Indeed they did.
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