Alex Semin’s Fourth Hat-Trick Leads Caps Past Ducks, 7-6

Alex Semin embraces Scott Hannan after notching his fourth hat trick

Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill

Let there be hats! (Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill)

Let there be hats! (Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill)

[Ed note: This post is by the Carroll County Times’ Brandon Oland, Ian’s very own flesh and blood. Since he’s accustomed to staying up until 4am, we figured he could fill in for us tonight. Take it away, Brandon.]

Doubts were creeping in. Could the Washington Capitals score enough goals to keep up with Anaheim’s freakishly talented top line? Could the Caps steal a pivotal road win against one of the NHL’s top teams? Could the underperforming Alexander Semin regain his finishing touch?

Yes, yes and yes.

Semin scored three goals, including the game-tying and game-winning tallies to lift the Capitals to a thrilling 7-6 victory in one of the most captivating back-and-forth battles in recent team history. That is, unless you are a fan of defense.

Semin notched his fourth hat trick of the season and seventh of his career. He also finished with a tidy plus four, officially breaking out of the longest goal-scoring slump of his career (17 games) in explosive fashion.

The goals came fast and furious in this defense-purely-optional imitation of the NHL All-Star game. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf got the scoring started with a way-too-easy power play tally set up by a brutal interference penalty on Tyler Sloan. Getzlaf’s goal came with 15:50 to go in the first. Alexander Ovechkin responded six minutes later on a breakaway sparked by a tremendous outlet pass by Nicklas Backstrom. Brooks Laich gave the Caps a brief 2-1 lead with 3:53 left in the first frame, capitalizing on a horrible turnover by Teemu Selanne. After Saku Koivu worked past two waving Capitals defenders, Selanne redeemed himself with a nifty redirect just a few minutes after his lazy pass to tie the contest up. Toni Lydman gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead with 30.7 seconds left in the first, thereby ensuring Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t let Semyon Varlamov see the ice in the second.

The Capitals power play continued its recent struggles in the second period. Corey Perry scored on a breakaway short-handed goal with 13:39 to go in the second to put the Ducks up by two. The goal was set up, in part, because Ovechkin got caught being too aggressive from his point position. But, the Capitals’ blue-collar checkers would come to the rescue. David Steckel scored in front after a nifty centering feed from Boyd Gordon, making it a one goal game. The Caps would then tie it at four on Semin’s first goal since Nov. 28. He needed a 3-on-1 break to make it happen with just less than 10 minutes to go in the second period. Alas, the Ducks took yet another lead just four minutes later. Lubomir Visnovsky, who probably deserves some Norris Trophy consideration, scored on a wacky deflection to give the Ducks a 5-4 lead with 6:42 left. At this point, I contemplated offering my resignation to Ian, who owes me a Chipotle burrito for all this effort.

But after drinking some Sun Drop (it’s a poor man’s Mountain Dew!), I soldiered on.

After killing a penalty, the Capitals scored quickly to tie the score one minute into the third. Mike Knuble, doing his best Ovi imitation, deked his way past Anaheim goalie Curtis McElhinney (who was absolutely terrible) on a breakaway to make it 5-5. After the Capitals seemed to have momentum, Ryan scored in transition during a wacky series that started with the goal behind McElhinney becoming dislodged. The officials allowed play to continue on, leading to the Anaheim goal with 14:05 to go. The Capitals bench wanted an offsides call on the play. They didn’t get it. No matter. The Capitals tied it AGAIN on Semin’s second goal of the night, a backhand swat from close range. Credit Scott Hannan for pinching up and creating the opportunity. Semin’s game winner came with just fewer than two minutes to go on a goal that McElhinney absolutely should have stopped. The Ducks desperately need to figure out what is wrong with starting goalie Jonas Hiller (fatigue) because they can’t win a Stanley Cup with McElhinney back there. Yuck. Caps beat Ducks, 7-6.

  • Forget about all the goals. The night’s most entertaining moment came when the Comcast Sportsnet cameras panned to the stands and spotted four rubes wearing presidential masks cheering on the Capitals. The Ronald Reagan mask was particularly hilarious for reasons I can’t fully explain.
  • Huge props to John Erskine for immediately sticking up for Matt Hendricks following a blind-side blow near the boards by Andy Sutton. Erskine dropped the gloves and bloodied Sutton with a few haymakers. Advantage: Erskine. If you are counting at home, Sutton racked up as many penalty minutes (nine) as minutes played.

  • Mike Green (inner ear) missed the game. Doubt we’ll see him against San Jose Thursday night. The Capitals desperately need him back.
  • The Capitals power play continues to sputter. No power play goals tonight, and the Ducks managed an unacceptable short-handed tally in the second. Personally, I think it’s time to get Alex Ovechkin off the point and back up front. It’s worth a shot, eh?
  • This seems odd to say in such a high-scoring affair, but Hannan played one of his best games as a Capital. He led the Caps in ice time (25:19), and played reasonably well against Anaheim’s crazy-good top line. Hard to believe the Caps got him for a forward who is now out for the year.
  • Wait a second. They gave Corey Perry the number one star of the game and not Semin? That’s like throwing a party for Al Gore after he lost the 2000 election. Nice try. Good effort. Decent creativity. But a loss is a loss.
  • Ian and I talked about it. We don’t think Semyon Varlamov deserved to be pulled. He wasn’t exactly conjuring up memories of Patrick Roy in his prime, but the Ducks were doing an outstanding job of blocking his vision. The Capitals, meanwhile, were doing a miserable job of just about everything defensively. What happened to the courageous, unselfish group that relishes blocking shots and playing it close to the vest? They’ve done it twice against the Penguins in 2011, but apparently they are merely picking their spots.
  • Joe B. Suit of the Night

    Joe B. Suit of the Night

    The Capitals matched a season-high with their seven goals tonight. They also scored seven against New Jersey (Oct. 9) and Calgary (Oct. 30). Here’s a shocker: The Caps are 3-0 when they score seven goals this year. Also, this was the most combined goals in any Capitals game this year. I’m pretty sure this is also the longest recap in Russian Machine Never Breaks history. What’s even more remarkable: I’m usually a concise writer. Just goes to show you how crazy tonight was.
  • I’ll leave you with one final thought: Craig Laughlin likes his pizza with Canadian bacon and pineapple. Joe B does not. If they can’t share a pizza, can they truly be friends?

It’s off to San Jose. We’ll be back here tomorrow night, will you?

Additional reporting by Chris Gordon and Ian Oland.

  • http://twitter.com/chris_gordon Chris Gordon

    Where did this come from? Insane game. On another note… it’s 2:30? Sounds fun! Let’s do this again tomorrow. Yay West Coast!

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  • Avtopilot

    as i forecasted ;-)

    now the next 2 games are really important.

    Congrats!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Look at this face of pure joy!

  • Greg

    maybe i should sleep through games more often… last time i fell asleep during a game, they beat chicago last year in stunning come from behind fashion in a high scoring game. tonight they do the same.

  • barb

    yippee! :)

  • http://make-lemons.com michelle

    woohoo! Go Sasha Go!! :D

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  • 28ISGREAT

    ::chant:: Semin! Semin! Semin!

    Take that Sasha haters!

    ::chant:: Semin! Semin! Semin!

    Gee, I guess #28 must have gone to morning practice yesterday. ;-)

    ::chant:: Semin! Semin! Semin!

    “Tremendous outlet pass” my a$$! Backstrom was esssentially a non-factor – again. Note to Nicky B., before you attempt your next empty net shot, take some notes from Sasha Minor.

    ::chant:: Semin! Semin! Semin!

  • 28ISGREAT

    Now thats out of my system – can we have an honest discussion about Nick Backstrom. I desperately want to stop yelling at my television over him.

    All my pent-up ill will towards him would have disappeared if during his pregame interview instead of saying they needed to score on the PP (duh!) he simply said, “I need to get my head out of my a$$ and actually starting finishing or making plays.”

    Off the top of my head, this is what I remember from last night re: #19:

    1) He got super lucky and didn’t get called on a penalty when the Ducks were on their PP. So essentially almost really screwed us.

    2) It was his terrible cycling of the puck behind our own net that set up one of the Ducks goals (forgot which one). Essentially screwed us.

    3) He missed at least 2 front of the net feeds. In fact he either fanned or didnt even see the puck coming.

    4) Had just ONE decent passing assist, which at the end of the day Ovechkin ended up doing all the real work on to score rendering it one of those goals where the assist is an afterthought.

    5) He missed an empty net goal (and lost the faceoff in our own zone on the resulting icing call). Which wouldn’t be all that bad if he had played a decent game in advance – but – he didn’t.

    Really Nicky!? Really!? I want to love you – I really do. But come on!

  • CDizz

    Nice to see you all also picked up on Hannan’s game tonight. He shut down their lines and was almost always in perfect position to slow the Ducks’ rush. Great to see him an an assist for his hard work joining the rush. A lot of people have been talking how he hasn’t done much…I’m pretty sure those people only notice players who score goals. Hannan was one of the best decisions GMGM has made in a while, IMO.

  • BobbyG

    Yes, where did this come from? It’s as if the Caps resurrected the 2009-10 version, at least for one night, instead of the same old same old 2010-11 variety that wore the same jerseys but really were impostors.

    It all comes down to this: do I prefer they win 7-6 instead of losing 3-2? The question shouldn’t even have to be asked. Now let’s see if they can do it again tonight, and again and again. Whatever it took to awaken them for the Ducks, let’s see if they can repeat it.

  • TATA

    I think we’ll understand more after the game with the Sharks . The yesterday game was funny and a little crazy . I have had got great enjoyment from the Semin’s playing , but new questions pass through my mind . About our defense , our goalies and our Nicky too..The game against the Sharks would say a lot …I hope for the best !

  • Brad

    You haven’t lived life to the fullest if you haven’t had pineapple and ham on a pizza. Canadian bacon sounds even better

  • DarkStranger44

    Very glad for Semin’s hat trick and Caps’ win although I didn’t stay up for the game, figuring that if I stayed up for the whole game, I’d have trouble getting up.

    Glad he’s scoring again. Then again, he had NOT been healthy throughout his entire slump starting with a “nagging condition” that caused him to miss the practice before the St. Louis Blues game. After that were his illness, the “lower body injury” against the Rangers that caused him to miss 3 games, coming back too soon from that one, given that he played the day after being considered “doubtful” since the team was so desperate for people, and the latest injury in January.

  • Timothy Oh

    This was just amazing!!! John Erskine can beat up anybody. AND GO SEMIN

  • andrew

    semin definitely doesnt need to be traded… this was prove he is our whole offense at this point fehr hurting and ovi is barely present.. nikki had a bad game.. but cant hate on him he is one of the best passing centers in the game defense needs work… for bruces new “defensive minded team” our defense looks crappy all the time.. and now that we dont score.. we just look terrible without semin lighting it up this ends terribly i know mid way through the 2nd period everyone was saying ohhh lord.. were screwed

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