Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck
The yuletide has receded, and the Washington Capitals have gotten back to work. Meeting the Carolina Hurricanes in snow-covered Raleigh, the Caps were out to test their mettle following that shootout loss to Pittsburgh on the 23rd.
Mathieu Perreault crashed the net in the first period, turning a sublime, unguarded puck from Alex Semin into the night’s first goal. In the second, Jussi Jokinen exploited a bad Caps line change to sneak one past Semyon Varlamov. Minutes later, Alex Ovechkin stormed through neutral ice and set up David Steckel to make the score 2-1. In the late second period, a bounce went finally went the right way for Ovi, who submitted the Caps third and final goal. The Canes attempted a comeback led by Jay Harrison/Tuomo Ruutu’s goal, but couldn’t get all the way. Caps beat Canes 3-2.
- Let’s get right down to it. Carolina’s Tim Gleason demolished Mathieu Perreault with a savage hit in the first period. Perry didn’t see Gleason coming, Gleason’s skates left the ice, Gleason targeted the head. As Matt Hendricks interceded, Perry lay bleeding profusely on the ice. MP85 did not return to the game, and we learned per Mike Vogel that his French Canadian schnoz has been broken. Gleason earned a charging penalty and a game misconduct, and it’s likely Colin Campbell will weigh in on the matter soon, too.
- Perry’s exit spoiled the fun of that dynamic 28-21-85 line, who were on ice for no even-strength chances against. Despite BBBB’s frequent line-fiddling, we hope to see these three reunited soon.
- Alex Ovechkin had 8 shots on goal and another 3 blocked. He was on ice for 11 of the Caps’ powerplay scoring chances. He scored the game-winning goal, assisted offensive powerhouse David Steckel in his goal, and generally looked dashing out there. Release the kraken.
- The Capitals outchanced the Canes 27-17. That so of those chances became goals is a testament to the solid work in net by goalies Cam Ward (27 saves) and Semyon Varlamov (33 saves).
- Carolina’s “Let’s! Go! Canes!” horn sounds like a molested goose. We’ll take Sam Wolk any day.
- The third period could have been a disaster if not for some excellent penalty killing by the Caps. The Ruutu goal, scored just 30 seconds in, was followed closely by a too many men penalty and then a high stick from Karl Alzner. The Caps allowed the Canes a lot of zone time, but kept them scoreless with the advantage.
- Speaking of PK, Mike Green and Scott Hannan were on the ice for all five Canes PP scoring chances. Yeesh.
- Even with Matthew Perot missing two-thirds of the game, Andrew Gordon got only 6:48 of ice time. That’s a full minute shorter than “Stairway to Heaven”. Not a lot of time to make an impression.
- No empty net goal? Denied!
We are encouraged by Alex Ovechkin’s offensive breakout and eager to see it continued. The Capitals don’t seem to be encumbered by any Christmas baggage. Leading into the biggest week of hockey until the playoffs (from the media’s perspective at least), the Caps are full steam ahead.
Habs at home on Tuesday and then the Winter Classic on Saturday. Beat dat beat.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.