Your new desktop background. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
The new-look Washington Capitals featuring Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm and Dennis Wideman took to the ice Tuesday night. After 61 minutes and 55 seconds of hockey, they had done exactly what the old team did only three days ago: came from behind and squeaked out a win against the New York Islanders, though it certainly it wasn’t how they originally expected to do it.
The Capitals controlled play early on, outshooting the Islanders 10-1 midway through first frame. Washington had a numerous quality chances in the period but Nathan Lawson — who came into the game with a record of 1-4-1 and a GAA of 4.56 — shut the door, and the game was scoreless after one period of play.
The second stanza was even more lopsided than the first for the Caps in terms of shots on goal — but not on the scoreboard. Just after the 10 minute mark of the period, the Islanders’ Matt Moulson finally netted the game’s first tally, scoring on a two-on-one odd man rush. But that would be all Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth would allow as he became impenetrable for the rest of the contest.
The third period looked grim for Caps fans as nothing seemed to be able to get past Lawson — that is, until the final minute of play. With just 48 seconds remaining and Neuvirth pulled, new Cap Arnott delivered a perfect pass to Brooks Laich in the crease. He chipped in the puck and just Laich that (See what I did there? It’s awful, I know.) we had ourselves a whole new ballgame.
In overtime, well, this happened:
Alex Ovechkin picked up the loose puck in his own zone and faked out Frans Nielsen. As Ovechkin blasted past the blue-line, Nielsen attempted to tackle the Great Eight. Undeterred, Ovi brushed him off using his brute strength. I think you know what happens next. Forehand. Backhand. Game over. Caps shock Isles, 2-1.
- Bruce Boudreau said before the game that, “this is our team for better or worse.” And let’s be real: for 59 minutes the Capitals looked like the same offensively challenged squad that they were before the trade deadline. However, the Caps never quit and in the end it all paid off as they scored the necessary clutch goals.
- Tuesday night, Jason Arnott showed why he was worth David Steckel and a second round pick in 2012. He has ice in his veins. Arnott’s savvy pass out of the corner to Laich insured the Capitals would walk out with at least one valuable point in the standings. It also helped them avoid another emotionally devastating shutout. The center, who helped the New Jersey Devils win a Stanley Cup in 2000 by scoring the series-ending goal, has been there and done that. This team desperately needed solid pros like him earlier in the season. His assist should help you forget about his horrendous four for 14 night in the faceoff circle.
- Laich’s goal was so sweet that it elicited a response on Twitter from Meet the Press host and noted Caps fan David Gregory.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s 25th goal of the year was also his ninth game-winning goal of the campaign. His eight shots on goal were also a game high. Tuesday night you all got a glimpse of the Ovi Caps fans know and love: the highly unstoppable, cannot-be-contained, celebrates-like-he-just-scored-for-the-first-time game-breaker. Please Alex, don’t leave them ever again. They need you.
- We do have to say this about the Capitals power play, which went oh for two tonight: if we wanted to see world class hockey players standing around on the ice, we’d buy a framed picture from NHL.com.
- Welcome to the team, Dennis Wideman. Wideman was on the ice for 11 even strength scoring chances — including both Capitals goals — and two on the power play. His stat line at the end of the night was impressive 26:44 of ice time, three shots, four hits, a plus-2 along with two blocked shots.
- Marco Sturm said he had “jello legs” before the game because of nerves. Sturm, who went from the waiver wire Saturday to the Capitals first line tonight, showed why he should be a valuable addition down the stretch: his speed. In his first game as a Cap, Sturm had a first period breakaway and two shots on goal. Plus, he was very “Rico Suave” in his first intermission interview with CSN.
- Arnott and Laich showed some great chemistry against New York. The pair was on the ice for nine Caps scoring chances, including Laich’s goal late in the 3rd. It shouldn’t come as a surprise as Laich has been the Capitals best scoring chance creator all season.
- Both of the ‘tenders, Nathan Lawson and Michal Neuvirth, were impressive. Lawson, who gave the Capitals fits all night, had 40 saves and wasn’t even named a star of the game. Graciously, we’ll even say he had little chance to stop both of the Capitals goals. Meanwhile, Neuvy was also brilliant, as his 28 saves kept the Capitals in the game when all hope might have been lost.
- “Carlzner” has really struggled of late, seeing an even strength scoring chance differential of minus-2, minus-7, minus-3, plus-2 and Tuesday’s minus-4. John Carlson’s awful cough-up in the second period also led to the Islanders only goal of the night. Are Caps fans’ precious rookies hitting a wall?
- Matt Hendricks was about five inches away from scoring “The Goal: Part Deux.” What can’t he do?
- Finally, Ian’s #antijinx appears to have magical powers.
It’s official: Ovechkin is back to his old self. Time to get your Vuvuzelas ready because we’re partying like it’s 2010.
The new-look St. Louis Blues come to town on Thursday just a week after they acquired some new toys of their own. Won’t you join us? We’ll see you then.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg, who was on the Sports Junkies yesterday.