Alex Ovechkin nets a hat trick against in the Leafs.

GROUP HUG! (Photo credit: Abelimages)

Braden Holtby stones Tyler Bozak on a breakaway. (Photo credit: Graig Abel)

Braden Holtby stones Tyler Bozak on a breakaway. (Photo credit: Graig Abel)

The last time the Capitals played on Hockey Night in Canada, they destroyed the Calgary Flames 7-2 on October 30th, 2010. Coincidentally, it was also the last time that The Great Eight had a multi-goal game.

Eighty-four days and thirty-eight NHL games later, that streak would finally end for Ovechkin against a team he consistently has success against: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tonight, the Capitals managed to get on the board first for the second consecutive game. Jeff Schultz unleashed a howitzer from the point, and a hard-charging Russian Machine tipped Sarge’s shot past Maple Leafs’ goaltender, Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Despite both teams combining for forty shots through the games first two periods, scoring would not resume until the third.

One minute into the games final’s frame, Ovechkin would strike again, as he set up shop in his new home in front of the net. Unfortunately, the two-goal lead would only last a minute and a half. Leafs’ fourth-liner Tim Brent ended Braden Holtby’s shutout bid, going five-hole after Jay Rosehill’s shot from the point was muffled. The Leafs then astutely seized the momentum and came at the Caps in waves for the next several minutes. That is until Bruce Boudreau wisely called time-out after an icing call.

Matt Hendricks then scored the most beautiful goal of his career on a breakaway and Ovi’s ENHTG (empty net hat-trick goal) sealed the deal. Caps win 4-1.

Waffles!

  • What do the Maple Leafs have in common with the Titanic? They both looked good until they hit the ice.
  • Let’s be honest: it’s Braden Holtby‘s world, and we’re all just lucky enough to live in it. Hershey’s December player of the month was effing spectacular in his second straight start for his big-league club. Sure, Ovi had the trick, but it was Holtby’s dynamite saves that won the game for the Capitals tonight. The Caps were severely outchanced 14-23 overall, and 3-12 in the 3rd period. Holtby had five “ten-belle” saves, including a wicked pad save on a Tyler Bozak breakaway and a scintillating stop on a 3-on-1. Braden’s 18 saves in the third period were clutch and he was your night’s number one star of the game. In each of Holtby’s last 4 games, his 5v5 scoring chance Sv% has risen: .250 against Atlanta, .692 against the Devils, .857 against the Islanders and tonight’s .952 against the Leafs. That’s definitely as calm, cool, and collected as I’ve ever seen him play.
  • We must extend a special thanks to CBC for capturing a new Holtbyism: the pre-game eye-brow stretch.
  • This just in: Alex Ovechkin owns the Leafs. He now has twenty-two goals in twenty-two career games against Toronto. Tonight, his first two tallies came from crashing the crease hard and skating with a purpose. When Ovi scores goals like that, I feel so proud.
  • Ovi double bullet! We all know Alex Ovechkin is a great guy, but tonight another heart-felt story about him came out during CBC’s broadcast of the game (which was sadly blacked out in this area). Via RMNB reader Stephanie C.: “Pre-game there was a split-screen of Ovi and a little boy named Owen N. in the crowd in a Caps jersey. The commentators talked about how the boy’s father was a firefighter and he died last year. Little Owen was a huge Great Eight fan and he actually had the opportunity to meet up with Ovi after practice today. Elliotte Friedman interviewed Ovechkin at the end of the second period and asked him about it. Alex basically said it was tragic for the boy to lose his father at such a young age, and he told him to stay strong.” The video of the interview is below.

Joe B's suit of the night

Joe B's suit of the night

Despite being outshot 36 to 31, the Capitals played a full sixty minute game and it was definitely fun to watch. Our heros certainly had their mental gaffes at times, but they showed heart in how tenaciously they forechecked, went to the net, and played defense. For example, did you know that the Capitals had 27 blocked shots tonight in comparison to Toronto’s 10? And it was the All-Stars who were leading the way in that category. Mike Green blocked four shots while Ovi blocked three. When your Captain and pretty-boy defenseman are leading the way, it becomes contagious. And that’s a really good sign.

With tonight’s win, the Capitals received an off day from Bruce Boudreau tomorrow. Peter will be back with you guys on Monday, for the Capitals tilt at home against the New York Rangers on Versus! Finally, time for revenge!

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  • BobbyG

    Ovie deserves a double bullet and more. That’s a great story about what he did for the little boy who lost his Dad last year. Ovie is a great guy for sure, but we all knew that already. Ovie, you have a big heart both on and off the ice.

    About Ovie’s first two goals–look where he was, IN FRONT OF THE NET! He needs to do this more often so he can use his size and strength to maximum advantage. Earth to Coach Boudreau–this is where Ovie should be on the power play, NOT on the point!

  • NavyBeanChili

    So we should have Hendricks as one of our first 3 shooters in a shoot out?

  • Fedor Fedin

    @NavyBeanChili Had the same thought. Definitely.