I sat down for last night’s game confident that the Caps were going to lose to the highest scoring monster in the Eastern Conference. The Caps came limping into Verizon with 10 players on their injury list, and have been playing up and down hockey recently. Contrarily, Boston, tied for second place in the league, and currently leading the Eastern Conference with a record of 19-4-4, was looking like a well-oiled machine with scoring threats on all of their lines. I believe their coach could probably score if he were allowed on the ice.
I got an e-mail from the Caps late yesterday saying they were sending Sami Lepisto, Keith Acoin, and Bryan Helmer back down to Hershey, and that they had recalled Oskar Osala. By my superior math skills that left two spot open; maybe someone was coming back from the injury list!
Imagine my glee when I found out those two players were Alex Semin and Tom Poti!
The Caps are a different team without the stick-handling acrobatics of Alex Semin, and with the return of Tom Poti the Caps now only have three defensemen on the injured list (John Erskine, Brian Pothier, and Mike Green). Poti’s presence may have been considerably more noticeable, but it was Semin who helped come up with the play that put the Bruins away for the night.
From PK to PP to Goal! – The Caps came out strong versus the Bruins, and in fact looked like they were on the power-play for the first 0:41 seconds of the game. Then they got hit for a minor penalty that sent them short-handed when Shaone Morrison got nicked for high sticking. The Caps got their shot with the extra attacker two-minutes later as Stephane Yalle was called for interference 1:36 seconds into their power-play.
Alex Ovechkin would make them pay.
One for you, one for me – Last week vs. the Islanders, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom broke free on a two on one with the empty net. Alex unselfishly passed the puck over to Nicklas and let him score the goal. Tonight, Nicklas returned the favor.
Alex took his shot from the point and his shot most likely would have hit the leg-pad of Manny Fernandez if not for the slight redirect of Nicklas Backstrom who got just enough of the puck to redirect it between Fernandez’s skate and the goal post to put the Caps up 1-0
Starting in Net for the Washington Capitals; Gumby! – Brent Johnson’s night looked like it was going to end early and on a high note. Johnny stared down a quick two on one with P.J. Axelsson and Chuck Kobasew flying right at him. Axelsson fired the wrist shot from the left, and was stopped; the rebound bounced right to Kobasew. Johnson dropped into the splits and made a spectacular save against Kobasew.
It all happened so fast that Kobasew couldn’t avoid Johnson as he skated into Johnson’s outstretched right leg.
I figured Johnson was at least done for the night, if not for the season, but he finally got up, shook it off and continued.
Easy as 1, 2, 3 – Alexandre Giroux scored his first NHL goal, in the second period of his second game wearing the number 33. His goal gave the Caps a 2-0 advantage.
A little luck, a lot of skill, but no “love” for Johnny – Brent Johnson was having one of the greatest nights I had seen as he continued to make highlight-reel saves. Johnny looked like he might pull off a shut-out (0 is called “love in tennis for those not as quick on the uptake) as he stopped 23 shots in the first two periods, but the 24th was too hot to handle.
With 0:35 seconds left in the second period, Phil Kessel got a lucky bounce of the boards on the right side and went straight for Johnson, he passed it across to Milan Lucic who slapped the puck home from the left.
The Backbreak(away)er – With a little over a minute to go, the Bruins pulled their goalie to get the extra attacker with the Caps up 2-1. Alex Semin fished the puck loose from the boards in front of the players’ bench, passed it over to Ovechkin who shot into the attacking zone on the break-away. In a scene that had to look like it was in slow-motion for Bruins fans Alex skated deep into the attacking zone, and lazily lobbed the puck into the empty-net.
Interesting tidbit #1 – Everyone named Alex (Semin, Ovechkin and Giroux) got a point in last night’s game. Giroux had a goal, Semin picked up an assist, and Ovechkin had a goal and an assist.
Maybe they were just sleepy – After calling four penalties in the first period, the refs stayed off their whistles the rest of the night. They did give the Caps a penalty shot, but made up for it by calling Sean Collins for hooking in the third period.
As if he didn’t have enough gear to lug around – After his spectacular performance, Brent Johnson was given the Caps Hardhat (an honor bestowed upon the player by his teammates for being the hardest worker on the team). Johnny went on to stop 33 of 34 shots on the night, and 79 of the past 83 shots he’s faced in his last three games. Johnny’s on a three game winning streak with a .952 save percentage and a 1.33 Goals Against Average in those games.
His record for the season is now 8-4-2 with a .918 and a 2.47 GAA.