Caps Steal Two Points in Nashville. Win 3-2 in OT.

Brooks Laich deflects home Alex Ovechkin's shot from the point as the Caps steal a win in Nashville, 3-2.

Brooks Laich celebrates his OTGWG. (Photo Credit: Joe Howell)

With Tom Poti and Mike Green out due to injury, we all knew that the Caps’ defense was going to be a little bit suspect tonight. But really, the main issue for the visiting team ended up being their collective effort. Case in point was the opening face-off where Tomas Fleischmann lost the draw cleanly to Cal O’Reilly. He then turned and watched helplessly as Steve Sullivan raced past his four other unprepared teammates and went in alone on Michal Neuvirth.

But for Neuvy, it was no big deal. He stone-walled Sullivan 8 seconds in. He stone-walled five Predator powerplays, including 29 seconds of a 5 on 3. And he made 37 saves in total to collect his fourth straight win.

Thanks to ten minutes of actual hard-work in the third period and two minutes of pure domination in the extra session, the Capitals leave Bridgestone Area with a huge 3-2 character victory.

Onto the bullets!

  • Nashville’s fans really suck. Sorry, there’s no other way to put it. I’m not Peter and I don’t have a thesaurus. Watching tonight’s game was so booooorrring, and only half of it was because Al Koken did the play-by-play. In the first fifteen minutes of the first period, I didn’t count a single chant or cheer. The only thing I heard was muffled conversation and train whistles (don’t get me started on that). This isn’t a book club people, this is a hockey game.
  • Many of the statistics tonight were flat-out horrifying: John Erskine led all Caps with 8:14 of ice time in the first period, Jordin Tootoo had more shots on goal (5) than Alex Ovechkin (3), and Brian Fahey spent 1:32 on the powerplay. But a win’s a win, right?
  • Speaking of Fahey, in his NHL Debut, he finished the night -2, the worst on the team. He still deserves our congratulations however, for not looking that out of place.
  • In substitution of Mike Green on the powerplay, John Carlson was both awesome and reckless. At times, he looked like a natural, a Green Life clone. At others, it looked like he was expecting Karl Alzner to swoop in and save the day when he pinched in deep. Unfortunately for Captain America, his defensive buddy was Alex Ovechkin. And that guy’s not too concerned for defense on the power play. The Predators ending up having several high-quality scoring chances during the Capitals man advantages including a breakaway in the second period. Worse yet, Carlson was credited with 4 giveaways on the night. No other Capital had more than 1.
  • Tomas Fleischmann went 1 for 12 in the face off dot tonight. Ugh. How about we just give him a free pass for slamming home the Capitals second goal of the night when things still looked grim?
  • JP says that through five games, Jeff Schultz leads he #Caps in ice time and has yet to be on for a single goal against. That’s an incredible stat.
  • Also, incredible: the Capitals have killed off all 21 powerplays that they’ve faced this year. What’s the difference? Could it be because Alex Semin is now a PK regular? No. But a man can dream!
  • Lil’ Mikey Newbear reminds me of Nikolai Khabibulin. Much like the Bulin’ Wall, Neuvy sags deep in the crease and is very, very strong when challenged. Neuvy basically stole the win tonight. He never got flustered at any point – even after he took a slapshot to the mask in the late stages of the second period.
  • I’m sure Nicklas Backstrom won’t be suspended for his dirty hit on Marcel Goc, but boy was that dangerous and out of character. Goc left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Katie Carrera reports that Barry Trotz was fuming when he met with reporters after the game. And I don’t blame him one bit. If that was one of our guys, I’d be p#$$ed off too.
  • Finally, what drew that 4-on-3 powerplay in Overtime? Alex Ovechkin going ONE ON THREE in the offensive zone. Brooks Laich gets credit for deflecting the Russian Machine’s point shot home on the GWG, but once again, the Great 8 was money when it mattered.

Waiting in the wings this upcoming week will be the Bruins, whom the Caps have a home-and-home with Tuesday and Thursday. Hopefully by then, our heroes will be all healed up and ready to go. If we take anything from tonight’s game it’s that the Caps are talented enough to coast for two periods and win in the third period, much like last year. And that’s really a bad lesson to learn.

The Caps need to be consistent. To take weaker, more-inferior teams and punish them for even getting on the same ice as them. I know the Predators were 3-0 coming into tonight’s game, and the Caps were missing some of their studs. But they are a better team. Play like it!

  • Mr Beverage

    Surprised by bullet 1. I definitely heard a loud “Hey You Suck” song after the first goal. Although maybe the whole arena was so quiet I was just hearing a few college kids singing it over everyone.

  • Dragon

    Bullet 1 is quite harsh. Preds fans do cheer, they cheered for their goals and said Caps Sucked after Caps scored. They cheered and hollered for their almost goals which were a lot. They have rabid fans.

    Mr beverage, I attended the game and they yelled Sucks after Caps starting lineup was announced. They were loud.

    The train whistles are for when Tootoo takes the ice. And according to my Preds friend, they were a fundraiser.

  • Tim

    I completely disagree with bullet 1. I heard chants and cheering constantly throughout the game – although the chants were mainly second and third period. The crowd in Nashville was loud and very much into the game.

    There were only two bright spots last night – Neuvy and the PK. That might have been Neuvy’s best game yet. And the defensive effort on the PK was solid. I saw a number of blocked shots, and good PK work by the 3rd/4th liners. On ES, the forwards let Neuvy down by not stepping up their defensive play on a night when 2 of the 3 best Caps dmen were out. The defensive corps wasn’t as bad as they could have been, seeing how there were two AHL-level dmen, 2 rookies, 1 5/6D, and only 1 veteran top 4 D. Hopefully this will get McPhee to get one more legit dman to fill out the top 6. Sloan should not be getting regular playing time, and Fahey should not be getting called up except in extreme emergencies.

  • Cookie Monster

    I thought the Nashville crowd was very loud and into the game. Not every fan base has to do chants to support their team. If you thought Nashville was tame, then you’ll really hate those polite SJ fans.

  • Peter

    Good work, dude!

  • Mac-daddy

    Well, I’m going to agree with point #1. Not only did the arena look like a local hockey rink (probably due to a poor colour scheme chosen by the predators), but it certianly wasn’t overly loud, and the fans were dead, and the music that was playing certainly didnt help. I also saw way too many puck heads

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian

    IMO, It shouldn’t take a goal to get the crowd into it. The Predators were so spectacular especially in the first 10 minutes. The fans had plenty to get riled up about. Dragon, you were at the game though, so you’d obviously know better than I. Maybe CSN’s sound made them sound a lot quieter than they were? It was just an observation that I felt very compelled to write about. Thanks for commenting because I’d like to know if I’m being unfair!

    In general I never enjoy watching the Caps play in Music City. Though I love Horn Guy’s Tootin, I can’t handle those soft, high-pitched whistles that they have down there. It’s awesome if they did it for a fundraiser, but that still doesn’t mean I have to like them!

  • Sean

    I watched the Preds broadcast (atdhe), and the fans seemed fairly into it. Not like the fans in DC or Philly, but certainly not below average. Especially towards the end of the game. After Laich/Ovie’s goal, there was a pretty loud “REF YOU SUCK” chant.

  • http://www.capsroadcrew.com Sherri

    There were 50 of us Roadies at the game and I overheard many comment how the fans in Nashville were much more knowledgeable and rowdy than we expected. They have some pretty cool standard cheers for game situations that didn’t have to be prompted by the jumbotron and while the Cellblock 303 fans were disappointing, as a whole, most seemed to be great fans. And the Tootoo train whistles were not nearly as annoying in person as the random high-pitched whistling at the booth.

  • http://www.irockthered.net/ IRockTheRed

    I was at the game as well; the Preds fans’ chants were fairly lame… a lot of “YOU SUCK” going on, as in “Neuuuuu-virth Neuuuuu-virth Neuuuuuu-virth YOU SUCK” after each of their two goals. The “REF YOU SUCK” chant was a one-timer, nothing like Verizon Center at all when we get mad at a referee for an egregious call… which the tripping penalty Ovechkin drew was NOT!

    I’m *really* pleased with what I’m seeing out of our penalty kill… and really NOT pleased that they have to use it so frequently. Still, 100% over five games? Not too shabby!

    I re-watched the second half of the game last night, including Backstrom’s hit on Goc… it was definitely boarding, but I don’t think it was meant to be as bad as it was; it was a one-armed shove, not a bull-in-the-China-shop smash, and it went badly for Goc. I hope he’s not seriously damaged.

    Other observations:

    * The in-arena announcer needs to study his pronunciation guide. Laich, Neuvirth, and a couple of other names got seriously mangled…

    * The ice was extremely bad – like Verizon Center after a basketball game bad… You could see Zam gouges in the corners from where the ice resurfacer passed by – I have photos of this – and the puck was bouncing every freakin’ where like a red rubber ball on steroids. It was really bad, and I’m sure that contributed to some of the Caps’ problems. I saw the puck jump sticks that were on the ice waiting several times. Was it the whole problem? No, of course not. But it was a contributing factor. The laws of physics can’t be ignored. When you’re trying to throw a pass, and it hits a patch of ice and does something weird, that’s not inside your control.

    That said, moving your feet to go after the puck is important, too, and the guys were reaching more than skating for the first 30 minutes or so, which was definitely also a factor in the “sloppy play” I was watching.

    * From what I saw, our defense took a while to get coordinated. This happens when you have substitutions, etc. going on. Scultz was mighty, as always; the rest, not so much, at least not for the first 30 minutes or so. Then it started getting better.

    * The Predators’ second goal would have missed the cage completely if it hadn’t bounced off of Fahey’s foot.

    * Neuvirth has a glove of solid iron and nerves of steel. That boy has ice in his veins. NOTHING fazes him. Ever. I was mightily impressed! I hope the slapshot that caught him in the mask didn’t cause any problems for him… his head whipped around like Fred Astaire when he got caught by a 40-pound sleeve on his dance partner’s dress!

    * As one of Flash’s biggest fans, I have to say ick to his performance in the dot tonight. He got his butt handed to him, and he needs to work on that in practice. A LOT. BUT his line otherwise contributed remarkably. Both the goals in regulation came from that line. So yeah, I’ll give him a pass THIS time on the dot. If he doesn’t get better as the season progresses, I’ll consider kicking his butt.

  • http://www.irockthered.net/ IRockTheRed

    @Ian

    The Preds’ fans weren’t nearly as loud as the Verizon Center can get.

    About the only thing they did in unison was “ON! THE! POWER PLAAAAAY!” and the ubiquitous “HEY! YOU SUCK!” with that godawful goal song that I can never remember the name of but despise to my core.

  • 28ISGREAT

    What!? No shout out for Alex Semin getting the offense kick started in the 3rd!? He lit it up those last 20 minutes – and easily could have had 2 more goals but-for some excellent net minding by the Preds.

    Always overlooked…what a shame…

  • lulu

    Agree 28ISGREAT; he made all the difference in that game. Sometimes I think the Caps AND the Caps fans deliberately ignore the poor guy