Ovie converts on the penalty shot. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume/NHLI via Getty Images)
In the eternal words of Keanu Reeves, whoa.
Tonight’s bout between the New Jersey Devils and the Washington Capitals was everything last night’s lackluster opening game was not. The Caps offense took no prisoners while savaging the Devils’ net. The game had pretty much everything you could ask for: prolific Capitals goal-scoring, the role-playing you’d expect from Caps depth players, and solid goaltending from Michal Neuvirth. And then everything went to hell in the boku battles that erupted late in the third.
Two goals and an assist from Alex Ovechkin, two assists and a goal from John Carlson, two penalties and an assist from Alex Semin. These are the Capitals you’ve been missing. Seven beautiful goals from all sorts of Caps heroes put this game far out of reach for the Devils, who found their only recourse was starting five fights in the waning minutes. Caps beat the Devils, handily, 7-2.
It’s impossible to recap this game, but these bullets will try their darndest.
- John Carlson! The newly anointed Calder Trophy favorite opened up the game with a laser over Brodeur’s glove hand. He’d follow up with two smart assists. He also came to the rescue of the besieged Marcus Johansson in the third, earning 12 PIMs and a misconduct for his loyalty. Captain America definitely earned the Palm tonight.
- Speaking of MoJo, despite looking much better on the faceoff (7 for 11), Marcus Johansson enabled both Devils’ goals tonight. He was supposed to be defensively superior to Mathieu Perreault but has yet to deliver on that promise. Our scorn is outweighed, however, by sympathy as Marcus was assaulted by Pierre-Luc LeTourneau-LeBlond Champs-Élysées Bourdeaux Camembert de Normandie Époisses de Bourgogne Sainte-Maure de Touraine. PLLL (as we’ll now call him) will probably face extra discipline for that late instigator penalty, by the by.
- Quick aside: does the President’s Trophy banner in the rafters feel like the scarlet letter to anyone else? We’d rather store it in a dark closet somewhere.
- The Caps’ power play woes continue, yielding only one goal on five chances and also that one against the team with the man advantage. At least, Alex Semin, Marcus Johansson, and John Carlson had good view of that shorty from Henrik Tallinder, watching statuesque as it happened.
- Anton Volchenkov chose- unwisely- to block a rare Nicklas Backstrom slapshot WITH HIS FACE at the tail end of the first period. After the blood and teeth were swept up, the lack of that shutdown d-man and shot-blocker extraordinaire might have been a key factor in unleashing the Caps’ fury.
- Michael Neuvirth stopped 17 shots in the second period, keeping the Caps in the game until the forwards got their groove back. For the second consecutive night, Neuvi was there when we needed him. It might be time to dial back any anxiety about the budding netminder.
- Alex Ovechkin delivered on a penalty shot for one of his three points. It was refreshing to see Ovi show patience and restraint on that PS, but it would have been even better to see him score on that spoiled breakaway. It could have been The Goal, Part II.
- Kovalchuk versus Green. At 7 PM tonight, was anyone expecting this??? It was like Rick Martel versus Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 1992: No hitting in the face. Kind of embarrassing for both parties, but Green narrowly got the best of Ilya in our opinion.
- Not the same can be said of Jason Chimera‘s brawl with David “Kelly” Clarkson. Now second in the Caps fighting depth chart to D.J. King, Chimmer sort of got his clock cleaned. We’re afraid to look at the hockeyfights entry for this one.
- Alright, catch-all bullet for fights. Hendricks v Pelley (winner: Hendricks), Brads vs Clarkson (winner: Brads), Boudreu vs. NJD coach John MacLean through the glass (winner: everyone). Not to get too righteous about it, but New Jersey should not be proud of how they conducted themselves in the final minutes. We won’t absolve the Caps of responsibility though. Oh, well.
We hope you hockey fans had your popcorn at the ready tonight. The Capitals delivered that special recipe for hockey that we love them for, that we so direly missed in the opener. Forgiven is last night’s false start in Atlanta. Let the match between the Devils and the Caps, held on this 9th of October 2010, be the gold standard for the rest of the season. If every game can come close to the excitement of tonight, ’10-’11 will be even better than ’09-’10.
See you on Monday. We need a drink. Or five.