It is disappointing that Brian Campbell was injured enough to have to leave the game, but I missed out in seeing the Hawks battle not only one of the best players in the league, but one of the best teams... and then we still found a way to lose the game. Playing against the real Capitals would have been good experience for the playoffs despite a loss, whether or not the two teams meet again at the end of the road. Perhaps this will snap the Hawks up and get them focused again on finishing games.
Unfortunately, the game was entertaining despite any of the Ovechkin craziness, so I cannot complain about that. The 3-0 Hawks lead evaporated in the 3rd period, spoiling an otherwise impressive goalie performance for the second straight day. Niemi looked good and had at least two remarkable saves, one coming in the 2nd period and the other before the Capitals eventually scored on their 5-on-3 power play. He did manage to stop a couple of potential game-winners in the final moments of regulation as well, but living through another heart-wrenching breakdown loss has overcome whatever highlights Niemi offered us today.
Although Niemi was facing a bit of an odd-man rush on the losing play in OT, marking the Hawks' first overtime (NOT shootout) loss of the season, this weekend has shown the Hawks with an inability to close games. If the team stands any chance of succeeding in the playoffs, it is going to have to rely on its defense to finish as strong as it starts by not surrendering frequent quality chances for opponents during the late stages of regulation and overtime.
Yes, I would love a better option at goalie next year, but our only chance this year is for the defense to be consistently dominant. Hopefully then we will see Niemi finish-out games with the authority he starts them with.