After going down to Carolina last night and beating the ‘Canes 4-1, the Washington Capitals provided an encore for their home fans by beating the ‘Canes 5-2. “Beating” is definitely the appropriate word.The Caps started the game flat, and fell to a 2-0 deficit a little more than halfway through the first period, when rookie netminder Michal Neuvirth was stung twice, both in short-handed situations. Those, however, would be the last two goals he would allow. The Caps finished the first period being outshot 15-9 and outscored 2-0.
The ‘Canes got a little sloppy in the second racking up three penalties within the first five minutes of the period and allowing Michael Nylander to score on the power play. They would make a bigger mistake a little more than halfway through the second when they tripped up Alex Ovechkin who made them pay on the subsequent penalty shot to tie the game at 2.
The Caps would go on to score five unanswered goals between the second and third periods and held the ‘Canes to just three shots in the third period. Michael Nylander and Alex Ovechkin would each score again in the third period along with LW Chris Bourque.
For a game that had no real meaning there certainly seemed to be a lot of hard feelings between these two teams as they each racked up 15 penalties in a game that saw six fights between the second and third periods.
“The match-up was a little one-sided, our way, just on paper” said Capitals Captain Chris Clark after the game. Clark had 2 assists and was involved in a scrap in front of the Carolina net that resulted in a 2-minute roughing minor. “”I thought they played a heckuva game for their age and experience. I thought they played really well and they held their own for most of the game, but I think experience sometimes takes over toward the end of games.”
I asked Clark how it felt to be back out on the ice, mixing it up again, after spending most of last season injured. “It feels awesome,” said Clark, who was all smiles after the game, “I missed the bumps and bruises. I missed waking up the next day and feeling terrible, so it’s something I look forward to.”
The Caps were 2 of 15 on the penalty kill. Coach Boudreau was asked about the high number of penalties after the game.
“Well, you’re gonna take penalties in the pre-season,” said Boudreau, ” the refs are gonna make a statement , and they’re gonna call every little thing.” Boudreau went on to say “Sometimes it’s good ‘cuz you learn a lesson, but when you want the kids to play sometimes it’s not so good because you’re always in the power-play/penalty-killing unit.”
Game Notes: Michal Neuvirth stopped 24 of the ‘Canes 26 shots and was replaced in the third period by Daren Machesney who only had to face three.
After scoring his second goal of the night in the third period, Alex Ovechkin was serenaded by the crowd with chants of “MVP! MVP!”
Tonight’s three stars were Michael Nylander (2 goals), Alex Ovechkin (2 goals, 1 assist), and Chris Bourque (1 goal, 1 assist).
The Caps play their next three games on the road and don’t return to Verizon Center until Friday October 3rd when they face the Flyers at 7pm.