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Montreal Canadiens @ Washington Capitals 01-05-2010

Ovechkin named Captain before Capitals play first home game of the decade.

For the first home game of the new year, the Washington Capitals are looking to avenge a dreadful two-game trip to the West Coast that saw them lose their respected matchups by a combined score of 7-3. The Caps had their work cut out for them, facing two of the of the top teams in the Western Conference in the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. The road trip proved that there is plenty of work to do if they truly want to make a Stanley Cup run.

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The Capitals are also playing their first home game since the departure of team captain Chris Clark, who was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with Milan Jurcina in exchange for Jason Chimera. Clark’s absence meant that the Capitals would need to appoint a new player to wear the coveted “C” patch. As Alex Ovechkin made his way onto the ice, fans in the Verizon Center noticed a change with his wardrobe. For the first time in his career, he will be wearing a “C” on his sweater. This move makes the Russian superstar the 14th captain in team history.

1st Period Overview:

The Capitals and Canadiens both were unable to put any points on the board but Washington was certainly more aggressive, dominating the Habs with 11 shots on goal compared to Montreal’s three. Ovechkin led the team with almost nine minutes of ice time, almost all of which were in full speed and full force, obviously motivated by his new role on the team.

Aside from Ovechkin’s obvious presence on the ice and the discrepancy in shots, there was not much action for fans to enjoy, unless you love defense and offenses failing to finish off passes near the opponents’ goals. Expect a more offensive second period (Captain Obvious alert!) from the Capitals.

Prediction: Ovechkin scores a goal in the second period to celebrate his captaincy. (Am I going out on a limb here?)

Faceoffs won: Mon – 9 Was – 10
Shots: Mon – 3 Was – 11
Hits: Mon – 5 Was – 14
Blocked Shots: Mon – 6 Was – 3
Goals: Mon – 0 Was – 0

2nd Period Overview:

The beginning of the second period started off exciting, with the Caps firing shots from close range and hounding Canadiens goalie Carey Price. The pressure paid off when Tomas Fleischmann weaved his way in the middle of traffic in front of the net and easily slid the puck between Price’s feet for his 15th goal on the season. That goal came just over five minutes into the period.

The Caps should be noted for their great penalty kill following Jason Chimera’s two-minute minor for hooking halfway through the period. During that PK, the penalty killers cleared the puck across the ice several times and were helped by several athletic saves by the youngster, Michal Neuvirth.

Shortly after the penalty kill however, Montreal’s Josh Gorges fired a blast over Neuvirth’s shoulder for the Canadiens’ first appearance on the scoreboard. That was when the action started. A minute and a half later, Eric Fehr retaliated for the Capitals, deflecting a pass off of the skate of Montreal’s Hal Gill into the net to regain the lead. Thirty six seconds after that, Alexander Semin, like Fleischmann, tacked on his 15th goal of the year to give the Caps a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.

My prediction for the new captain to score was wrong but my “Captain Obvious” obersvation paid off, as it was certainly a more offensive and active second period that even featured two big fights..

Faceoffs won: Mon – 6 Was – 12
Shots: Mon – 10 Was – 17
Hits: Mon – 6 Was – 6
Blocked Shots: Mon – 4 Was – 4
Goals: Mon – 1 Was – 3

3rd Period Overview (most of it):

As has been status quo with the rest of the game, the Caps have kept the puck on Montreal’s half of the ice for most of the period.

Despite starting out the period even, the Canadiens were able to cut the Caps lead to one with a power play goal scored by Benoit Pouliot, making the score 3-2.

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