Shave: check. Haircut: check. GWG: double check. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
Last time the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers met, we were treated to a mortifying 3-0 shutout on home ice. Meeting for the first time in the new year, again at Verizon Center, the Caps had a chance to redeem themselves and start off the season’s second half right.
Coming off a successful penalty kill, Florida’s Mike Santorelli earned the first goal of the night, making the best of some bad defensive reads and a great pass from Dmitry Kulikov. Eric Fehr returned fire, placing the puck on the top shelf after a wraparound attempt from Mike Green. In the third and while on the power play, Mike Green used some creativity to create a backhand goal from the slot. Then Alex Ovechkin added another piece of film to his reel, a lovely semi-breakaway wrister while getting tripped. We thought Ovi’s was the insurance goal until Evgeny Dadonov turned a Varlamov rebound into the Panther’s second of the night. The away team had a primo chance to even it up in the final minute after Nick Backstrom’s crosscheck penalty, but it never happened. Caps beat Panthers 3-2.
The Capitals are now 1st in the Southeast division and third in the East. [LATE UPDATE: And then Tampa Bay won… so back to 2nd and 4th.]
After that atrocious first period, the Capitals still managed to pull out a win. Finding a path to victory, despite some lazy goals against, is what made last season so captivating. Add to it Ovechkin’s stunning GWG and standout performances by guys like F16 and @GreenLife52, it like old times again. If the Caps can forecheck, connect on passes, and crash the net earlier in every game, we’ll be eating a heluva lot of free wings in 2011.
Off to Florida on Tuesday for another rumble with the kitties. It’s 20 degrees out and windy in Frederick right now, so those tropical climes sounds pretty nice.
Have a good Saturday night, folks. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
Lots of additional reporting from Neil Greenberg. He did all the real work; I just sort of phoned this one in.
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