Caps Get Ruutu’d By Hurricanes, 3-2 (SO)

Dennis Wideman lays on the ice after being laid out by Tuomo Ruutu.

Wideman grimaces in pain after being laid out by Tuomo Ruutu. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon!)

Cam Ward celebrates the victory. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Cam Ward celebrates the victory. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

After an extended 10 day break to rest an undisclosed injury, the Capitals welcomed their kapitan back to the lineup Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. During the three game stretch in which Ovechkin sat out, the Caps went 2-1-0, their most dominant win coming Saturday night in Montreal when Braden Holtby shutout the Canadiens.

Alex Semin’s Canadian Ice Dad, Jason Arnott, also returned from injury, forcing Jason Chimera to the press box. Pre-game, head coach Bruce Boudreau told CSN that while it was great that two of his top six forwards were returning, he also had a fear that there would be a letdown. “You know, the guys have been working so hard while [Ovechkin and Arnott] have been out. I’m scared they’ll look at them returning and go ‘they should carry the load now.’”

In the first period, however, Boudreau would have nothing to worry about. Led by a determined Russian Machine, the Capitals as a team hit everything that moved and rifled 16 shots at Cam Ward, feeding off the energy of a Verizon Center crowd they hadn’t played in front of for sixteen long days. The Caps would not see their hard work be rewarded, and the game would remain scoreless until early on in the second period. After Nick Backstrom took a tripping penalty at 1:06, Joe Corvo brilliantly found Jussi Jokinen wide-open in the slot for a one-timer. Jokinen converted and the Hurricanes would take a 1-0 lead.

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Videoclip via the Hershey Bears YouTube page

It was a milestone night in Hershey on Saturday. Keith Aucoin registered his 700th career AHL point, Brian Willsie scored his career-high 30th goal of the season and Dmitry Orlov tallied his first career goal at Giant Center. The Bears went on to defeat the Albany Devils 7-4 in front of a sold-out crowd. With the win, Hershey clinched a playoff spot and earned the right to defend their back-to-back Calder Cup Championships.

The most fascinating part of the evening, however, was the line-brawl that was ignited after Brian Willsie scored against the Devils’ fourth line. As the five Bears on the ice went to congratulate each other, Albany tough-guy Chris Murray gave Mathieu Perreault a shove. The feisty, 174 lb. Perreault responded with a flurry of punches and Hershey’s entire line engaged Murray. Pierre-Luc Leblond – yes, the same guy who was suspended earlier in the year for jumping Marcus Johansson – then came to his teammate’s aid, charging towards the pile of Bears as if he were a bowling ball looking for a strike. Mayhem ensued thereafter, as everyone on the ice squared off except for the goalies.

All in all, 34 penalty minutes were doled-out between the two teams, including 14 PIM’s to Leblond and 12 PIM’s to Louis Robitaille. The Bears swept the contentious and brutal season series with Albany, 6-0-0.  Below the jump, Sweetest Hockey On Earth‘s Kyle M. has shared his photos of the brawl.

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“Hello Kitty,” Meet “Hello Neuvy”

Hello Neuvy

As RMNB’s resident artist, I love seeing artwork by fellow Caps fans. When reader Patti del Pielago sent us these illustrations of her creation “Hello Neuvy,” I fell in love with them immediately.

After several jokes emerged between Patti and her boyfriend about how “precious” Michal Neuvirth is, the two created this cuddly feline version of the Capitals netminder.

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Eric Fehr, Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich celebrate goal

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Not all goals are created equal. A team scoring first has almost twice the win percentage of a team that trails first, while scoring an empty net goal almost always means the game was out of reach. But what about all the goals scored in between? Of all those goals that a player scores, how many contribute to victories and how vitally do they contribute?

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Video: Bruce Boudreau Discusses His First Jobs

In CSN Washington’s last installment of “Gabbin’ with Gabby,” Caps Head Coach Bruce Boudreau discusses his first job as a young man in the Great White North and his, um, work experience at Maple Leaf Gardens.

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Brooks Laich congratulates Braden Holtby on his shutout

Brooks Laich gives Braden Holtby the ol’ congratulatory helmet tap. (Photo credit: Francois Lacasse)

Marco Sturm seems, let's just say, pleased with his goal. (Photo credit: Graham Hughes)

Marco Sturm seems, let's just say, pleased with his goal. (Photo credit: Graham Hughes)

Less than 24 hours after being shutout at the hands of the Ottawa Senators, the Washington Capitals turned the tables against the Montreal Canadiens on Holtby — err — Hockey Night in Canada. The 21 year-old stonewalled the Habs on the way to his tenth victory this season.

The Capitals dominated the play during the first period of play, outshooting the Canadiens 12 to three and scoring the only tally of the frame. The goal came just 84 seconds into the contest when Marco Sturm knocked in a rebound off a Nicklas Backstrom wrist shot.

Washington continued their strong play in the second stanza, outshooting the Habs once again while Braden Holtby held the fort in net.

In the third both teams managed good opportunities, but it would be the Caps who would convert. After, guess who, Marco Sturm poke-checked the puck away at center-ice, Backstrom started a three-on-one break before Alexander Semin finished the play off by flicking the Swede’s pass past Montreal goalie Carey Price. SHUTOUT FOR BRADEN! Caps stonewall Habs, 2-0.

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On the day that Semyon Varlamov’s bobblehead was given away to blood donors at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Braden Holtby would not be outdone on the awesome meter. After Benoit Pouliot dumped the puck in after the referees’ whistled the Habs for being off-side, the sassy 21 year-old ‘keeper kicked the puck into the air, caught it with the blade of his stick before flipping it into his glove. Another great Holtbyism? You bet!

Colin Greening scores on Semyon Varlamov

Colin Greening celebrates his goal; Varly is not pleased. (Photo credit: Phillip MacCallum)

Well, where do even begin? Poor effort, non-existent offense, a goalie playing in his first game since the 20th of February and some, let’s just say, interesting officiating. Those four things combined make the blueprint for how you find a way to lose to the worst team in the Eastern Conference.

Nothing of interest happened in the first period, but there was another meaningless D.J. King fight just under three minutes into the game.

The Senators’ Colin Greening opening the scoring at 13:25 in the second frame. After a scramble in front of the net, Greening appeared to kick not only the puck, but Capitals ‘keeper Semyon Varlamov’s whole pad past the goal-line. The big wigs in Toronto took a look at it, but the play stood. 1-0 Sens.

Both teams registered eight shots on goal in the second period — with the Capitals having the best chance on an Alexander Semin breakaway — yet no one would tally.

Just over two minutes into the third stanza, Erik Condra pushed the Senators’ lead to two. After a Karl Alzner giveaway, Condra picked up Milan Michalek’s backhand no-look feed and wristed it pass Varlamov.

The real action, however, would happen just under 13 minutes into the period when Matt Bradley laid-out Patrick Wiercioch at the goal-line. Though the hit appeared to be a legal shoulder to chest hit, the Sens and referees took exception. First Ottawa’s Zach Smith jumped Bradley, forcing him to duel. Smith got the win in the ’bout, but correctly received an instigator penalty for his instigating. However, the refs called Bradley boarding, one thing the hit almost certainly was not as Bradley and Wiercioch were 12 feet from the dashers when the hit occurred. That would be it. Ho-hum. Sens blank Caps, 2-0.

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Late in the third period of Ottawa’s 2-0 blanking of the Capitals, Matt Bradley cleaned Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch out with what looked to be a legal, open-ice bodycheck. Zach Smith disagreed strongly however, and Bradley was forced to engage the disgruntled center. The two combatants traded multiple punches until Brads lost his balance and Smith wrestled him down to the ice. At some point during the tussle, however, the “paper-thinned” one was cut open and – surprise, surprise – bled all over the ice. As Bradley made his way to the lockerroom, CSN cameras caught a glimpse of him as blood poured down the side of his face. Since we know you guys love grotesque stuff like that, the video is above.

While we have you, we did want to ask what you guys thought of that two minute boarding call Bradley was assessed. As Down Goes Brown author Sean McIndoe correctly observed, Bradley had both of his skates inside the faceoff circle when he delivered the check. It was shoulder to chest. Is there something we’re missing?

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Evgeny Kuznetsov and NHL Expectations

evgeny-kuznetsov-development-camp

Photo credit: Chris Gordon (Click to enlarge. He’s got beautiful blue eyes, you know.)

Evgeny Kuznetsov has had quite a year. Not only did he win a gold medal with Team Russia in the 2011 World Junior Championship, become the youngest player to ever be in the KHL All-Star Game and get engaged, but he also had the second-most goals ever in a season for a Russian player under 19-years old (17 to be exact). But how can we measure his success compared to the NHL?

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