The Capitals have ended their eight-game losing streak. Just take a moment to process that. Go ahead, put that dumb old grin on your face. We’ll wait.
There you go. Feel better? Me too!
The Sunday night tussle between the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals had no shortage of extra meaning. The team’s mental state and possibly even careers hung in the balance. Game on.
Ottawa’s Ryan Shannon delivered a bang-bang puck over Neuvy’s left side to make it 1-0. Chris Kelly plopped in a pass from Chris Neil to give the Senators a two-goal lead in the first period. The Capitals could have deflated at that first intermission like usual, but they returned for the second ready to do work, son. Mathieu Perreault waited all of 34 seconds to score the Caps’ first goal, an ugly one. Eric Fehr allowed almost an entire minute to elapse before recording the second, also ugly. A powerplay opportunity found Perreault scoring again with another homely tally. The Caps held off a late-game man advantage to snap the slump: Caps beat Sens 3-2.
- After going 18 days without a win, this is kinda emotional, ain’t it? No shame in it. Especially after going down 2-0 in the first period, coming back shows the exact kind of character we knew this team had deep down. Full hearts, right?
- That first period was a gut check of the first order. The Senators cycled the puck effortlessly and won battles in the corners. Meanwhile, the Caps couldn’t keep a puck on their sticks at all.
- Mathieu Perreault missed last night due to illness. Perry’s best games always seem to be his first game back, and this effort was totally representative of that pattern. Two nasty goals, terrific energy, and superb forecheck. He was on ice for 6 chances-for and only 1 against.
- My panic protocol was to do push-ups to change the team’s momentum. Worked!
- Eric Fehr‘s intense effort last night was rewarded with a spot on the top line beside Backstrom and Ovechkin. He scored the game tying goal, had one goal waved off after the buzzer, led the team in shots (7), and showed a plus-4 scoring-chance differential. Not bad for a guy could have been a scratch all weekend. Way to make opportunities count.
- Mike Knuble was fiending for a piece of Brian Elliott: 7 scoring chances for, 0 against. Knuble was begging for scraps underneath the table all game, and that’s right where we love him.
- BBBB showed some confidence in Andrew Gordon, giving him spots on both special teams units. He had some juice, but only found three scoring chances with the man-advantage. If Gordo can’t produce soon, he’ll be helping out the resurgent Bears again.
- A holding penalty against Jason Chimera with 2:45 left is responsible for your indigestion.
- The top line of Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fehr had 8 scoring chances, but only one goal. They’re going to break through huge any day now.
- Former Capital Sergei Gonchar is minus-19 in Ottawa? Isn’t that a statistical error? Tragic.
- How on-point was Neil’s file on two-day waits? “We could have to wait until the boys in red face Ottawa on Dec 19th before we see the Caps right the ship.”
- The Caps offense hit a groove in the second period. The blueliners dumped the puck in furiously and the forwards chased it down like a feeding frenzy. Moving that traffic up front made all the difference. Boudreau’s system: validated. Player confidence: restored. High five!
This was the best possible way to end the slump. The team got its collective hiney handed to it in the first period, but shook off the mental assault and played like they’ve been coached. Yes, it’s only one game, but it’s a game with a ton of meaning. Like HBO and Alan May have been saying, hockey has a rhythm. This was the go-go backbeat, the crescendo’s peak, the fortissimo punch that gets the team moving again.
It’s okay to celebrate. The Capitals and their fans went through hell for the last eighteen days. To the folks who stayed tough and kept the faith, you’ve been rewarded. You are the Brooks Laich’s of fandom, and your virtue earns you a place in hockey heaven. To the remainder, you will be welcomed back into the fold whenever you decide to rejoin the true believers.
We’ve reset the site theme. RMNB is no longer dark: Ovechkin has dethroned Voldemort and reclaimed his spot on the BIG GRAY THING AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE. The Panic Protocol is officially terminated. You are free to rock the red, use letters of varying cases, and socialize with redheads again. It’s a long season, and there will certainly be other tough losses, but we’ve learned something. Nothing lasts forever, either good or bad, and it’s who you are during the bad times that matters. Remember that in June, cause I’m damn sure the Capitals will.
Devils on Tuesday, Penguins on Thursday. Presents on Saturday.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.