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Caps Dominate Sharks, End Slide

Turning Point…
Alexander Ovechkin’s two goals less than thirty seconds apart early in the second period.

It Was Over When…

Matt Bradley stretched the Caps lead to 4-1 early in the third.

Game Summary:

The Washington Capitals defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-1, to end a couple of ‘skids’ on Thursday night. Most importantly, the Caps ended their 4-game losing streak with the win; it was also the first time the Capitals have beat the Sharks in their last twelve meetings – a phenomenal run that dates back to February 2oth, 1999. Two Ovechkin goals less than half a minute apart at the beginning of the second period, proved to be the difference.

There was a tremendous tempo from the Caps to start the game, and they forced some early penalties from the Sharks. Washington found themselves with a two-man advantage, and Alexander Semin opened the scoring at 7:21 of the first period. Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom deftly played the puck back and forth, until Backstrom beautifully picked out Semin sneaking down the back-side, who slapped the puck into a yawning net. Mike Green also assisted. 1-0 Caps. Video.

San Jose spent a large part of the opening frame in the penalty box, with five minors in the first eighteen minutes. Their penalty kill units did a great job of keeping them in the game and they were rewarded when Benn Ferriero scored his second of the season at 14:07 to even the score at 1-1. Kent Huskins and Scott Nichol assisted on the goal.

When the Capitals came out for the second period, Semyon Varlamov had taken over in net, due to (later disclosed) back spasms for Jose Theodore.

The young Russian goaltender didn’t have to wait long for his team to get him support and a lead; Alexander Ovechkin crashed the net and tipped in a gorgeous backhand pass that Mike Knuble saucered on to his stick – Brendan Morrison picked up the second assist. Ovie ended a three-game scoring drought with his sixth goal of the season, and Washington had a 2-1 lead. Video.

Just twenty-eight seconds later, Ovechkin made it seven on the season. Knuble took a Morrison pass at the top of the right circle, and fired a quick shot on Evgeni Nabokov; Nabokov let an awful rebound get away, and Ovechkin was there to slap it into the net. 3-1 Caps just 3:23 into the second period. Video.

The outburst from the Russian sensation seemed to suck the wind out of the sails of the San Jose Sharks. Washington really controlled the game from there on out, and stretched their lead to 4-1 at 5:11 of the third. Matt Bradley was parked at the side of the net, and snapped in the rebound from a Milan Jurcina point shot, to give the Caps an insurmountable three goal lead. Video.

Varlamov was a perfect 15-for-15 in relief of Theodore, and earned a big, confidence building win.

Game Notes:
Ovechkin’s goal(s) were his first ever against the Sharks, the only team he had never scored against… Washington only drew three penalties – a much more disciplined effort… there were actually chants of, “Varly, Varly, Varly…” late in the third period – he didn’t really have that much to do, but it was novel nevertheless… Bruce Boudreau juggled the line-up and considering that they got scoring from three lines and played exponentially better defensively, you’d have to call the first game with the new lines a success.

Ovechkin Summary:
2 Goals; 13 shots; 20:53 minutes of ice time

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4 Responses to “Caps Dominate Sharks, End Slide”

  1. You know what it reminded me of, Boss? Remember the days when it was Kolzig and Johnson, and the team would play better when they had Johnson in? It was like they knew the goalie would need more help so they didn’t leave him exposed.

    I think maybe they get a little too comfortable with the netminding sometimes and that leaves the goalie on an island. This game showed they could play tough D and still be aggressive.

    They worked hard and they earned this win!

  2. They played a much more disciplined game, and it was reflected by their lack of penalties, and their more responsible defensive play. That could be attributed to the new lines as much as anything.

    Ovi was ridiculous last night. He just seemed to have a whole different gear out there… even when he was just chasing down loose pucks in the Sharks’ zone. San Jose kind of mailed it in, in the 3rd, and the Caps were on cruise control, but ovi was just going like a bat out of hell. What a special talent.

    I think that the Caps need to land a top tier goaltender if they want to win the Stanley Cup. I think Boudreau would prefer to not curtail their offensive tendencies and just let them hang, but it doesn’t work if you don’t have a keeper that can make the big save when you’re caught up ice. But I digress…

    The new lines definitely served to get the Caps back on the winning track, and with goals from lines 1,2, and 3, it would be tough to argue their success. But were they successful? I think I might have got a point last night if I was playing with Ovechkin. ;-)

    The second line didn’t really do that much… Semin and Backstrom’s points came when they were up two men… that needs to change… The third line WAS considerably better. So it’ll be interesting to see what Boudreau does next.

    Why not go with Backstrom between Knuble and Ovi, with Morrison between Semin and Laich… while spreading the talent around is great, Backstrom-Ovechkin is just a great combination…

  3. I know the season started with Ovi, Backstrom and Semin on the top line, and I believe the last game (Devils) feature the line combos you suggested.

    I know the top line was Ovi, Backstrom and Knuble, I can’t remember who was with Semin but I think it was Laich and Morrison.

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