ARLINGTON, Va. (AP)—After spending several overnight hours on an airport tarmac because of weather and customs delays, Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau found a bit of a silver lining.
“Better fog than ash,” he quipped.
True, the Capitals aren’t among the thousands whose lives have been disrupted because of flight cancellations following the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, but an unexpected travel adventure did put a kink in Thursday’s preparation for Game 5 of Washington’s first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Given that his players stayed up virtually all night trying to get home from Wednesday’s Game 4, Boudreau had little choice but to cancel practice.
“It was a pretty long night, but we made it through it,” said right wing Eric Fehr(notes), one of only three players hanging around the practice facility at midday. “It’s going to be good getting a little bit of sleep today.”
The Capitals, with a 3-1 lead, can wrap up the series Friday. Now they have even more incentive to do so.
Flying home after the 6-3 Game 4 win, the Capitals ran into fog that kept them from landing at Dulles International Airport or Reagan National Airport, so they touched down at Baltimore-Washington International Airport a little after 1 a.m.
But there were no custom agents on duty at BWI, so the team sat on the plane for nearly 3 hours. Some calls were made, agents were found, and the team finally cleared customs.
“I didn’t get to bed until 5 a.m., so it’s a little foggy today,” said Corvo, who was so tired he didn’t realize he was making a pun.
The Capitals are the first to say that they’ll need to be re-energized for Game 5. They came from 3-1 down to oust the New York Rangers in the first round last year, so they know the Canadiens are capable of doing the same.
“I don’t think the job is anywhere near done yet,” Boudreau said. “And, quite frankly, if players think that way, we’re in trouble. … When you start looking forward to the next series, and the next series, then all of a sudden you realize you’re not in that next series.”
Still, it’s worth noting the other three Eastern Conference series also started 3-1. The Capitals don’t want to be the last team to wrap up business in the first round.
“It’s something in our best interest to finish tomorrow,” Corvo said, “and definitely put our best effort in the series. The closing game is never the easiest one.”
At least the Canadiens don’t intend it to be.
“Now we really have nothing to lose,” Montreal left wing Michael Cammalleri(notes) said. “Now it’s, like, let’s go play a sense of looseness in our game. I don’t mean that as far as technically or as far as giving them opportunities or playing an open game, because they’re so dynamic that you can’t do that. I mean as far as maybe some composure with the puck on our part and maybe a little more calm in our presence.”
Except for the 5-1 win in Game 3, the series hasn’t been easy for the Capitals. They lost Game 1 and were in a 4-1 hole in Game 2. Their top-ranked power play is 1 for 19—in fact, they’ve scored more goals (two) with a man down than with a man advantage. They’ve switched goalies, sitting veteran Jose Theodore(notes) for youngster Semyon Varlamov(notes).
The Capitals were dominated in the second period by the Canadiens on Wednesday and were fortunate to survive with the score tied at 2. Alexander Semin(notes), who had 40 goals in the regular season, has no goals and just one assist in the series.
Add all those things up, and it’s easy to understand why Fehr sounded as if the Capitals are on the verge of being swept.
“We didn’t necessarily deserve both wins” in Montreal, Fehr said. “I don’t think we’re happy with the way we’ve played 40-minute games, 30-minute games. We haven’t put a full game together. We are up in the series, but we’ve gotten lucky.”
But the Canadiens haven’t taken advantage.
“You can’t sit and think about what could have been,” Cammalleri said, “or where we could be or anything like that. You’ve got to just be aware of where we are—and where we are is still alive.”
AP freelance writer Sean Farrell in Montreal contributed to this report.