Alex Semin (3 goals) celebrates with Mathieu Perreault (two assists) after his 5th career hat trick.

Ovechkin (9 hits) may not have scored, but the Trashers certainly felt his presence. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

Ovechkin (9 hits) may not have scored, but the Trashers certainly felt his presence. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

The hat-tricker and the catalyst celebrate their line’s third goal of the night. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

As the Capitals entered tonight’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Semyon Varlamov could not make his scheduled start due to a flame-up of his #brittlegroin. Caps regulars Boyd Gordon (rest) and Marcus Johansson (hip flexor) could not dress due to nagging pains. And Tom Poti was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury.

The Caps, who had just lost two straight games to the Boston Bruins rather unimpressively, were forced to go with a patch-work lineup which included minor league call-ups Mathieu Perreault, Jay Beagle, & Dany Sabourin as well as a not-at-full-strength Mike Green.

When the puck dropped and the first period came to a close, the Capitals resembled the same struggling team that had lost Tuesday and Thursday. They were down 1-0 and the Thrashers outshot them 13-4..

Things quickly got rectified in the Caps lockerroom, however. “Kanoobs had a little speech,” Michal Neuvirth explained post-game. “[After his talk] we were getting better every minute. …We dominated in the third period. He just wasn’t happy with our effort. …We’re getting outshot on home ice. It just can’t happen.”

The Capitals then came out and outshot Atlanta 40 to 14 the rest of the game. Riding an Alex Semin natural hat trick, two assists from fan-favorite Mathieu Perreault, and a clutch backhand gwg from Flash, the Caps trash the Thrash in OT, 4-3.

To the bullets!

  • Despite mounting injury, roster, power play, and systems problems, the Capitals proved tonight that they had the passion to win at all costs. That’s all that we and a rowdy, sold-out Verizon Center crowd could have asked for tonight.
Crucial keep: Mike Green dives head first to keep the puck inside the zone during a Caps powerplay. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Crucial keep: Mike Green dives head first to keep the puck inside the zone during a Caps powerplay. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

  • For the first thirty minutes of the game, Mike Green had the best seat in the house: the Capitals bench. Why? Due to his nagging shoulder injury, Caps brass only deemed him only okay to skate on the power play. When Green finally got his first shift of the game midway through the second period, he played with flair, beauty, and a reckless abandon. He had several crucial keeps in the zone (including one where he dove head-first at the blue line), and scored – what turned out to be a disallowed goal for kicking it in – after the team’s first powerplay.
  • Alex Ovechkin was a raging bull tonight. Ovi had nine hits – one of which could have easily counted as 3 or 4. To top that, the Russian Machine also sent Andrew Ladd head over heels into the Thrashers bench during the third period.

  • We feel bad for Thrashers goalie, Chris Mason. It was only a matter of time before Alex Semin broke out. And tonight, the young Thrashers goalie got inSEMINated. Semin’s first goal, you know, the one in which he dented the twine and deafened the crowd with a loud PIIINNNNNNNGGGGG, was a heads up play. Sasha intercepted an errant clear by Mason and immediately fired the puck to the top left corner of the net. What a beauty! The next two however were all due to Matty P.
  • Perreault was possibly the most consistent player of the night. Semin’s second goal came after Perreault found a hole in the offensive zone and went in alone on semi-breakaway. Semin’s hat-trick goal came on a sick cross-ice pass from Perry. Please Bruce, let Perreault stay in DC. He can crash at my place.
  • Coach Boudreau was asked after the game if Perreault’s performance earned him an extended look: “Semin had two goals this year, and [Perreault] comes in tonight, and he gets three. He did a lot of good things. You know, it’s the great thing about having depth. On the other hand, the best game Marcus played was the last game too. And Fleisch got the OT winner. And Stecks won every face-off down the stretch. And Nicky’s Nicky. I think if we put Nicky on waivers, somebody will claim him. It’s tough decisions.” Sigh.
  • Sure, Flash got the OTGWG tonight and that was awesome. He also went 2 for 8 in the face-off dot, had two shots, and finished with only 10 minutes of ice time.
  • Neil’s notes: MP85 was on the ice for 7 scoring chances for, and ZERO against tonight. The best MJ90 has been is +2 and he has been -4 twice… Only 5 shifts for Ovi over 1 min and only two of those over 2 min. And the Caps won. Weird… Chimera got no offensive zone starts at 5v5 in the BOS game and that continued until the very end of the 2nd vs. ATL, making it 13 straight without an offensive zone start. On the flip side Sloan has started in the offensive zone 63.6% of the time and for some reason was leading head-to-head time on ice against Evander Kane. Guess who got the better of that deal in this Bizarro world? Plus, unless you’re a blueliner whose name rhymes with Bike Cream you should be under 55%… I am no fan of Erskine but he has played OK despite being bogged down in the defensive zone. After his defense of Neuvy tonight I am willing to give him and his -10 scoring chance differential the night off.
Joe B.'s suit of the night

Joe B.'s suit of the night

Maybe after tonight, it’s time for us to think this team still has it. Maybe we’ve all been spazzing out a bit too much. Maybe we’ve all gone over the deep end. The Capitals lose two straight games against a respectable team and we all panic. Maybe after last year, we’re spoiled.

The Capitals are off until Wednesday when they travel down to RBC Center and take on the Carolina Hurricanes. At that point, the Caps should have many of their injured soldiers back including Boyd Gordon, Tom Poti, and MG52 at 100%. Hopefully, tonight’s game will be the catalyst to more consistent Caps’ efforts. And hopefully, it’ll mark the end of Mathieu Perreault’s AHL career. At least for the immediate future.

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  • Tim

    Semin and MP were an incredible pair last night. MP’s energy created the opportunities and Semin finished. Of current options at center, I think MP is the best choice for 2C – I hope they keep him up.

    Also, Semin did not have a natural hat trick. That would require his goals to not be interrupted by any other goals – regardless of team.

  • Rockin’ The Red in VA

    . . . . . the first period came to a close, the Capitals resembled the same struggling team that had lost Tuesday and Thursday. Despite being tied 1-1, . . . . .

    The Caps were down 1-0 at the end of the first, FYI

    Also; Semin was all smiles on the big screen after his trick. He reminded me of a kid who just found out he was going to Disney.

  • Peter

    That pic of 8 checking the dude over the boards is perfect!

  • Semin and MP85 were on fire last night! I would be happy with either MP or MoJo being Sasha’s permanent Center.

    On another note… does anyone know why it seemed that Knuble was doing most of the conversing with the Refs on ice and not AO8? Just seemed odd to me… though maybe I don’t usually pay attention to it as much….

  • CapsFan1975

    I did notice that the Caps were doing better during preseason with MP as second center than they have been, as of late. No coincidence here!

    Everyone wondered what Perreault would do if he had skilled line mates. Now we’re seeing!

    Bravo for the Hat trick, Semin!

  • Ian

    @Michelle, I noticed that too. I have absolutely no insight as to why Knuble was doing it, but that’s usually Ovi’s job as Captain.

  • JoeS

    It wasn’t a natural hat trick, according to Wikipedia and’s definitions. The game was tied by Semin 1-1 at the beginning of the second before the Thrashers regained the lead afterwards in the same period.

  • Ian

    Re everyone commenting on the natural hat trick: I heard that from the CSN telecast and just assumed the guys were right. My apologies for not picking that up during the game or fact checking at the end.

  • Tim

    No problem, Ian. I heard that the Caps’ website said that as well – there was a bit of debate about it on Japers. Regardless, it was a great game by Semin. If only he could bring that kind of fire every night.

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  • Brad

    you guys have great in-game photos


    Hooray for Sasha Minor! And while the hat trick was indeed spectacular (could have also easily been a 4-spot but for Laich getting the open net pass) – Greenie’s diving play in the PP is what stands out. It’ll be great to have him back fulltime. The PP looked markedly better with him on the ice to point it up.

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