Semyon Varlamov Rehabs with the Hershey Bears

Hershey's Mathieu Perreault celebrates his Hat Trick Goal (Photo by: Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News) (Photo Above: RMNB Correspondent Kyle M)

Hershey's Mathieu Perreault celebrates his Hat Trick Goal (Photo by: Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News) (Photo Above: RMNB Correspondent Kyle M)

First, it was his groin. Then after a rehab start on January 3rd with the Hershey Bears – a start in which Oskar Osala crashed into him while he was in net – it was his knee. And now after another long month on the shelf, Washington Capitals number one goaltender Semyon Varlamov is finally healthy again. Varly returned between the pipes today as the Hershey Bears took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Giant Center.

Varlamov made 26 saves in a thrilling 5-4 Bears victory, but gave up three goals in the first period – two of which were softies and likely would have been stopped if he were at the top of his game. After the first period however, Varlamov settled in, much like the rest of his teammates. How bad was the first period though? The Bears got outshot 17-4.

Anyways, thanks to a hat track by Mathieu Perreault and a game winning goal by everyone’s-favorite-minor-league-defender Bryan Helmer, Hershey went on to win it’s 17th straight game at home, 5-4. At this point, the Bears have won 10 straight and 22 of 23 overall. That’s crazy.

When asked about Varlamov’s performance after today’s game, Bears Head Coach Mark French had this to say: “I thought [Varly] got better as the game wore on. I don’t know what the game plan is. As far as I know, his health throughout the game was fine.” (Quote via Tim Leone of the The Patriot-News)

So yes Caps fans, Semyon Varlamov is one step closer to returning to the Big Club and also another step closer to joining Team Russia as it’s Third Goalie on the Olympic Roster (THANKS A LOT LISA HILLARY). Varly had no setbacks in today’s gamel! Yes, everything seems to be right in the world once again. Special thanks to Kyle M. for the photos and the report.

Below the jump check out some more photos of Varlamov wearing his new mask!
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Caps Beat Pens 5-4! Ovie Hat Trick! 14 Wins in a Row!

Alex Ovechkin Gets Hat Trick Against Penguins

Caps Exuberant in 5-4 Comeback Win Over Pens  (Photos by: by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

Caps Exuberant in 5-4 Comeback Win Over Pens (Photos by: by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)

How lucky for the NHL that this meetup betweens the Caps and Pens was nationally televised on one of the biggest TV days of the year! Unfortunately this game was broadcast by NBC Sports, an organization with an anti-Washington bias so strong it makes Fox News look like Obama Girl.

Today’s game was prefaced by some overblown stories about the Penguins hazarding a 9-hour trek from Montreal to D.C., crossing Redhorn pass and the mines of Moria in the process. Meanwhile, the Capitals had to dig out their SUVs (okay, Schultz probably drives a Windstar) and chop downed trees to make it to Chinatown. With the record-breaking winning streak on the line, Old Man Winter looking over the region, and the best rivarly in pro hockey matching up, today’s game had damn well better be epic.

For the first thirty minutes, I was thinking that epic-ness might be in way of the ending to The Wild Bunch. The Pittsburgh Penguins, aided by their sidekick referees, railroaded the Caps to a 4-1 lead. Sidney Crosby took the goal-scoring lead with two early goals, and then Jordan Staaaaaaaaaal added two more tallies. The home team was getting outplayed in the corners and couldn’t seem to cross the blue line effectively. This could have been a disasterous ending to the streak.

And then Alex Oveckin happened. I think someone must have told him about the praise NBC was heaping onto Sidney Crosby, because he looked determined as hell for the last half of hockey. Combining a pillowcase full of hits and an exceptional offensive showing, Ovechkin was a force of nature that puts #SnowtoriousBIG to shame. Single-handedly ensuring overtime, Ovechkin proceeded to set up Mike Knuble for the overtime game-winner. Just like that, the Washington Caps did the impossible: Caps beat Pens 5-4.

Think of these bullets as  snowballs:

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