#Winning (Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz)
Returning to the Bell Center for the first time since the ill-fated 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals got a little bit of revenge Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to nine games in the process.
The game got off to a positively wild start with two goals and a fight in the first 1:48 of play. After Tomas Plekanec was called for a hooking penalty the Caps headed to an early power play. With a lot help from the end boards, Marcus Johansson put the Caps up 1-nil as the dump-in from Dennis Wideman bounced right in front to the waiting Swede. Just 26 seconds later, however, Travis Moen tied things up on another odd play behind the net. Washington netminder Braden Holtby attempted to rim the puck along the boards but instead passed it right to Moen in the corner who fired the biscuit into the wide open net. Just over 20 seconds later the action continued with Matt Bradley and Paul Mara dropping the gloves right off the face-off in a bout that ended in a draw. At 13:23, Brooks Laich put the Caps on top 2-1 after picking up the perfect outlet pass from Karl Alzner, who was on the ice for nine more scoring chances and just one against. Whew. Another calm night in Montreal, I see.
Andrei Kostitsyn continued the back-and-forth play 3:28 into the second period, firing a wicked wrist-shot pass Holtby’s catching glove. Washington put forth a fury of shots in the remainder of the frame, racking up 19 for the period. It would be to no avail, however, and the teams would head to the third knotted up.
Johansson would strike once again at 6:43 in the final period, putting home a perfect backhand pass from Alex Ovechkin to give the Caps the lead. Just over ten minutes later, Mike Knuble would seal the deal converting on a two-on-one with Marco Sturm after Sturm delivered a perfect pass to the veteran winger. Take that, Frenchies. Caps top Habs, 4-2.
- Ovechstreak! Ovechstreak!
- Marcus Johansson‘s two goals were clutch. But it’s his skating, forechecking and willingness to shoot that’s impressed us. After chucking a game-high seven shots against Chicago on Sunday Johansson followed up that performance with four shots against the Habs. He was also on the ice for nine scoring chances for and only four against. Johansson’s confidence appears to be growing by the day.
- But it was John Carlson who might have been the Capitals player of the game. He drew the Caps first power play of the game 45 seconds in, rifled six shots at Carey price and blocked two more. He was on the ice for 14 scoring chances for — 10 at even strength — and only one against.
- Per Katie Carrera, Washington has outscored their opponents 13 to two in the third period during their current nine-game winning streak. That’s what I call a killer instinct.
- Braden Holtby gets a bullet not for his goaltending, but for his secondary assist on Johansson’s opening tally. It was the first career helper for the young ‘keeper and prompted this tweet from Caps prospect Andrew Gordon:
If holtby gets more NHL points than me this year im going to be upset. Haha. I currently have a one point lead.
- Scott Hannan blocked a game-high six shots, twice as many as the next closest player.
- The quote of the night goes to Joe B.’s simile in the third period. After Holtby quickly broke up a scoring chance with his stick, Beninati said of the NHL’s reigning number one star “Holtby flashes the poke-check like a lizard tongue.” Wow.
- It appears Eric Fehr may have re-injured his shoulder just a minute into the second period after a collision just inside the Capitals baseline. After falling to the ice awkwardly he skated off the ice, seeming to favor his right side. The Capitals said after the game that he had an upper-body injury and would be re-evaluated tomorrow. Before sustaining his injury Fehr was on the ice for five chance -for and none against in 4:23 of even-strength ice time. It will be a huge loss for the Caps if Fehr’s services are gone for another long stretch of time.
- Matt Bradley gets a bullet for his heads-up first-period scrap with towering defenseman Paul Mara. After Holtby’s flubbed clearing attempt found its way into the back of the net 20 seconds after Johansson’s game-opening goal, it was Bradley who grabbed momentum back from the Habs with his dust-up.
- FYI: Matt Hendricks‘ no-goal was a goal. Someone tell the guys in Toronto to stop hatin.’ Regardless, Hendricks finished the game with five shots while registering three hits.
- Finally, Caps fans should send Pernell Karl Subban a thank you card for tonight’s victory. After Alex Ovechkin entered the offensive zone with a full head of steam the 2007 second round pick unwisely went for the big hit.
Naturally, Ovechkin pushed him aside like a rag doll, found the puck in Subban’s skates, and tossed a pass to a wide-open Marcus Johansson for the game’s deciding goal. How did Subban react after Johansson scored? Immaturely. The Toronto native slammed his stick to the ice twice before pouting all the way to the Montreal bench. Subban is a great player, but he needs to grow up.
Now, it’s on to the Motor City as Washington will look to extend their winning streak into double digits. Won’t you join us?
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg and Ian Oland.