#GoodSasha (Photo credit: Paul Bereswill)
The Washington Capitals are in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, don’t start panicking. The Caps of this year are different. They play postseason-style defensive hockey. (Well, let’s just forget about the D tonight.) Washington has their swagger back too. They’re just one point off the top spot in the East and are firing on all cylinders as April awaits.
Nicklas Backstrom opened the scoring at 7:52 after his wrist shot from between the circles snuck under Flyer goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder. Weak goal. Then with under three minutes left in the first period, ol’ man Mike Knuble chipped in Marcus Johansson’s pass from behind the net to push the Caps lead to multiple goals. Spongebob never saw it. Weak goal.
Under 1:30 into the second stanza, Dennis Wideman fired a shot from the point the found twine after Bobrovsky failed to react in time. Weak goal. New ‘keeper. At 8:05 Kris Versteeg got himself an easter egg. Number 10 in orange and black racked up his 19th of the year after his off-target pass hit Wideman’s skate. With just over 30 seconds left in the frame Claude Giroux inched Philadelphia ever closer, one-timing Andreas Nodl’s perfect pass past Neuvirth. The Czech netminder never even moved on the shot after biting on Nodl’s excellent fake. The Flyers would then tie the game 10:02 in the third period when the Capitals got Jeff Schultz’d. Mr. Nasty’s outlet pass was deflected by Giroux and Nodl slapped it home. Daniel Briere would then score the Flyers’ fourth unanswered tally, saavily tipping a a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point home. 4-3, Fly Guys. Panic!!!1 Luckily for you guys, Swedes are good at hockey. Johansson would tie the game up on a perfect shot from the point with 3:19 left. What does that mean? Overtime.
In the extra period, there would be chances a plenty, but neither team would convert. You know what lies next: The Gimmick.
Ville Leino: goal. Matt Hendricks: fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, leg lift, fake, fake, fake, backhand and GOAL! Giroux: miss. Backstrom: GOAL! Briere: Goal. Up next, The Enigma. GOAL WSH #28 SEMIN, Backhand, Off. Zone, 7 ft. Playoffs, here we come! Caps top Flyers, 5-4 (SO)
- Tonight, the Capitals coined a new saying: “A three goal lead is the worst lead in hockey.” Got to find that killer instinct, boys!
- It may not have been pretty and it may not have been by design, but Scott Hannan‘s block of Matt Carle’s shot from the point with 1:13 left in overtime may have been the only reason why the Capitals had an opportunity to win the game in the shootout. After absorbing Carle’s blast, Hannan immediately dropped to the ice writhing in pain, but still managed to finish his shift. What do we call that in sports lingo? A gamer.
- Matt Hendricks. That is all.
- Jay Beagle won five of his six face-offs. The rest of the team? 19 of 49. Marcus Johansson was the worst on the dot tonight winning only six out of 16. Though we’ll find it in our hearts forgive him since he notched a primary assist and it was his sweet one-timer that pushed the game into OT.
- Since CSN wasn’t allowed to cover the game, we will hand out our own Palm player of the game award. Tonight it goes to the Capitals goal post, which bailed Michal Neuvirth out in stunning fashion twice. First, in the second period, the right iron denied Andrej Meszaros’s wrist shot from 17 feet away. Then it was left pipe denying Mike Richards’s bid to tie the game up five minutes into the final frame of regulation. And since you asked, we recommend the “Point Judith” Calamari Fritti.
- Well we’re on the topic of Mikey N., he wasn’t terrible (though as we stated, the Flyers were this close to netting six tallies) and he wasn’t great (but only one of the Philly goals was one he should have stopped). However, Neuvirth looked shaken and stirred by the Flyers comeback in the third — that’s a cause for concern if he is to be relied on during intense postseason games. And what’s his even-strength save percentage on scoring chances in third period with a one goal lead? (A mouthful, isn’t it?) .857 Semyon Varlamov’s? .941 I guess you know who my choice for playoff stater is.
- For about 62 game minutes, Alex Semin had us wanting to rip out our hair and throw it at the television. For example, instead of taking his typical, unnecessary stick-infraction, he doubled down on the foolish and took a double-minor for high-sticking after lazily missing on a lift-check. Additionally, in the third period after getting crushed by a leaping body-check from Giroux (picture here), Semin shied away from all contact for the rest of the game. But, just like those dang Sweet and Sour Patch Kids Commercials, Semin redeemed himself in overtime, nearly scoring on a great individual effort and then clinching the match in the shootout with some sweet moves — a shot that earned him the number one star of the game. Just like anyone ever who has written about Semin, when he’s on, he’s on. And when he’s off in lala land, there is not a more frustrating player to watch. Jason Arnott can’t come back soon enough.
- Dennis Wideman might have kicked-in or deflected Philadelphia’s first and fourth goals himself, but he did manage to score on the power play. It was his tenth goal on the year and his ninth on the man-advantage, tops amongst all NHL blue-liners. Wideman, however, was on ice for 11 even-strength chances against and played softly in front of the net. The most telling example was his gentle hugging of Giroux after he gave a snow shower to Neuvirth.
- The Capitals shutdown pair of Karl Alzner and John Carlson did not play well on Tuesday night, registering no scoring chances at even-strength and eight against.
- Despite holding a 3-0 lead at one point, the Capitals were physically dominated and thoroughly out-chanced 24 to 12 overall — 19-8 at even strength.
- Mike Knuble crashed the net hard all night and notched three points against his former team Tuesday night. With his marker in the first he earned his eight straight 20 goal season, making him one of only five active players in the NHL to have done so. He also now has a scintillating six points in the last two games. Last year, it took around two months for Knuble to find his legs. This year, about five. Clearly, father time is catching up with the right wing. But if he can keep this up in the playoffs, the Capitals will be a very hard squad to stop.
Big things appear to lie ahead for this team. Let’s make some history.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.