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.

The Capitals would answer back twelve minutes later. After Carolina turned it over in their defensive end, Brooks Laich fed Alex Semin the puck along the boards. Sasha Minor then curled around four Hurricanes, went in alone on goal and accurately placed a wrist-shot over Cam Ward’s right shoulder. The goal was certainly of the highlight-reel variety, even though you wouldn’t of noticed by Semin’s celebration.

Marcus Johansson then capped the second period’s scoring off by notching his 13th goal of the year three minutes later.

The Capitals then came out a bit complacent for the third period. 18-year old sensation Jeff Skinner pierced Semyon Varlamov for a softy — his 27th goal of the year  — 1:48 into the period, and the Capitals lost any momentum they had built previously. Both teams traded chances for the rest of the third period and overtime, but a victor could not be decided. In the shootout, the Hurricanes were allowed to shoot first. Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu would score, while both Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom missed on their opportunities. Canes beat Caps, 3-2 (SO).

  • Let’s be honest with ourselves, Carolina just wanted this game more in the end.
  • The circus might have left town, but it seems as if they left one of their carnival acts behind. I’m just kidding, Tuomo Ruutu. Not really. Despite Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner being named the first and second stars of the night, in this writer’s opinion, there was no more effective and valuable player on the ice for Carolina than the young Finn. Ruutu had eight hits, including one which knocked Dennis Wideman out of the game, and he also potted the shootout game-winner. Let’s not forget too that he had a secondary assist on the game’s first goal and got under the skin of Alex Ovechkin to the point where the Great Eight was targeting him in the third.
  • Yeah, about that Wideman hit. It was most certainly a dangerous play, as Ruutu unnecessarily accelerated towards Wideman in open ice, looking for the knockout. Ruutu clipped the Capitals defenseman awkwardly, injuring what looked to be his right leg, and connected on a glancing blow to his head. Regardless on if the hit was clean or not, the play was irritating because of how completely unnecessary it was. But I guess that’s the type of stuff Ruutu does.

  • Bruce Boudreau told the media after the game that Dennis Wideman was “okay” and he’s listed as “day-to-day.” I’d be shocked, however, if we see Wideman Thursday. Really, D-Wide. No rush!
  • Ovi reacts in frustration is Cam Ward stops his shootout attempt. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Chris Gordon)

    Ovi reacts in frustration as Cam Ward stops his shootout attempt. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Chris Gordon)

    Alex Semin scored his 28th 27th goal of the year, had the primary assist on Marcus Johansson’s tally and then was benched for all five minutes of overtime. That noise you’re hearing right now is me applauding Bruce Boudreau. With 3:19 left in the third period, Semin senselessly took a hooking penalty in the neutral zone. The Hurricanes would not score on the resulting power play, but that’s besides the point. In the playoffs, you cannot take stupid penalties like that or you will lose games. I think we’ve all been frustrated at Bruce for rarely putting his foot down over the past few years with Semin. But tonight, this discipline could not have come at a better time. Play smart or don’t play at all.
  • A word for you readers as well. An Alex Semin Hat Trick is when Sasha Minor scores a goal, a goal and a goal. Not a goal, an assist and a penalty. Really, let’s not glorify his laziness. I can assure you, Gordie Howe is not impressed by his stick infractions.
  • The Capitals out-chanced the Hurricanes 25 to 14 overall, and 23 to nine at even strength. A dominant offensive performance if not for Cam Ward. One troubling stat however was that Carolina had just as many chances short-handed as the Caps did on the power-play: two. Chad LaRose was even awarded a penalty shot — which Semyon Varlamov poke-checked away — in the second period.
  • Karl Alzner was the Capitals best defenseman, as he was on the ice for 14 scoring chances-for and only four against! He also blocked five shots. And I bet you didn’t even notice him on the ice! (Well, minus him slicing Eric Staal’s face up with an inadvertent high-stick.)
  • Mike Knuble looked like a junk yard dog tonight. He was everywhere! Knuble had six shots, blocked a shot on a Hurricane’s four on three power play and looked to have the legs of a 22-year old.
  • Eric Fehr had one scoring chance for, one against and rifled one shot on goal. Fehr was also not effective at the point on the power play. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the statement game he needed with Jason Chimera scratched.
  • Scott Hannan was on the ice for seven scoring chances for and nine against. He also had two giveaways, took a minor penalty and had a minus-one in 26:12 of ice time.
  • Alex Ovechkin didn’t score, but he had five shots — one of which broke Cam Ward’s stick in overtime — and five hits. Ovi had this to say, as quoted by The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno:
    Joe B. Suit of the Night

    Joe B. Suit of the Night

    “It was pretty hard when you’re coming back after three games sitting out. But every shift, every period I was feeling better and better.” That’s good news. Ovi’s energy burst is back!

The Columbus Blue Jackets come to town on Thursday, a team that’s just playing the rest of the season out. Will the Capitals bring the intensity and win a game that they should win? With five games left, it’s time to start putting this machine into overdrive. We’ll see you then!

Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg.

  • (Photo credit: Chris Gordon!)

    Now where have I heard that name before? 🙂

  • McBride

    How many minutes is unnecessarily acceleration? Is that a two or a four?

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  • K4

    Big difference I saw last night was the machine getting after the Canes (Ruutu). In some of the previous games (Philadelphia, Ottawa) the Caps didn’t seem to stick up for each other and had the Schultz approach to conflict resolution. Stare in disbelief and skate over to the bench for a line change.

    Totally agree about benching Semin until he gets the message. Do you think ASCID (lol nice acronym for #44) grounded him? Who needs sandpaper when you have ASCID?

  • Avtopilot

    What is your opinion on Ovi getting mad about Ruutu and targeting him?
    Did it really help or it rather gives a hint how to to easily get under Ovi’s skin – to target his linemates.

  • You guys always get the best video clips for your posts. I love it! And that Semin goal is incredible. It should be listed in a top 10 or something of most unbelievable shots. How he thought he could even attempt that is amazing. That totally looks like something an avid golfer could *maybe* pull off.

  • Craig

    Alex Semin hat-trick: A goal, an assist, and a stupid stick penalty.

  • CDizz

    “Alex Semin scored his 28th goal of the year”

  • Here’s a question for you … all things beinig equal…. if last nights game had played out exactly the same during regulation, but was instead a playoff game…. would you be applauding BB for sitting Semin during OT?

  • Bob

    Unfortunately missed the game. How’d Varly play last night?


    Benching Semin in OT was a dogsh*t move by BB. Semin’s penalties have always – and will always – receive exponentially more negative attention and get singled out more than any other players.

    Is it right? No.

    Is it justified? Not nearly as much as some people would pretend.

    To discipline now – when people have (rightly or wrongly) been levying this criticism for what feels like 28’s entire tenure as a Cap – is ridiculous.

    Semin didn’t seem to object/protest much on his way to the “sin bin”, which to me indicates he knew he took an ill advised penalty. So if the guy knows he messed up – and he demonstrates some measure of regret – then why bench him in OT when he’s having an otherwise stellar game!? (SICK goal, gorgeous assist AND Palm Player of the Game)

    It was an emotional move by an emotional coach – who reacted by penalizing a player who could have been a difference maker in OT based on what was otherwise a fantastic game for him.

    And even if one accepts as true (which I don’t) that Semin is more prone than other players to take stupid penalities, does anyone really think getting benched last night will change that fact!? No way! So then why handicap your team further by taking him out of the line up. It was a stupid move.


    BTW – Semin’s goal last night was his 27th – not 28th. But if you guys want to give him the extra credit (which would make you some of the only Bloggers to seemingly do so) – I’m clearly not going to object!

  • Also, I was under the impression that every time Semin has scored, the Caps have won. (Yes, I did read the earlier post about win percentage based on who scores goals.) Maybe Joe B. and Craig were just referring to recent stats? Either way, I suppose that will have to change now, to “the Caps score at least one point.”

  • Katie

    It’s always nice to see people stick up a bit for Semin. His penchant for penalties is his frustrating, yes. But a player’s reputation plays a part. I believe that refs see Semin do something that another guy without a reputation for taking lots of penalties does and they call Semin when they might let it go for another player. Of course, I’m biased.

    I’m not sure what was going on that with penalty shot. Also the refs missed a crosscheck against Ovie that would have put us on the PP for part of overtime, which might have made a difference.

    As far as benching Semin, I will applaud Bruce for doing that when I see him apply the same tough love to Mike Green.

  • @Katie – Bruce Boudreau said post-game that well the refs would have liked not to call it, it was a clear penalty and they had no choice.


    “As far as benching Semin, I will applaud Bruce for doing that when I see him apply the same tough love to Mike Green.”

    Or everyone’s darling Nick Backstrom. Why is it 19 is always beyond reproach!?

  • JW90

    “even though you wouldn’t of noticed by Semin’s celebration.”

    *wouldn’t have

    Both goals were scored by the second line tonight, only on both Arnott had gone off early and MaJo was on the ice with Brooks and Sasha. Hmmm….

  • Christophe

    It’s weird… I think Wideman injured himself (looked like a knee or an ankle thing from a possible rut in the ice) but Ruutu stuck his knee out very far and it definitely would have been charging had he actually hit Wideman, as he took well over three strides right at him and very nearly left his feet (though in fairness to him, it looked like he may have just lost his balance a bit).

  • Mily

    Yes it wasn’t a Alex Semin Hat Trick. It was a GASP – Goal, Assist, Stick Penalty.

  • BobbyG

    @Mily: LOL and totally agree with your GASP!

    BTW, it’s getting late so pardon me while I trip some ASCID–pun only, no penalty intended.

  • K4

    You can’t bench Mike Green and Nicky Backstrom. Defensemen and Centermen are much more critical than wingers -especially top 4 d and top 3 c. Alex Semin routinely takes unneccessary and obvious penalties. The ONLY positive of this latest episode is that it wasn’t an offensive zone stick infraction (another infuriating habit). He actually pulled himself closer to the player he was hooking in the Carolina game. Referee bias? I think the word on Semin is that if you pester him, he WILL retaliate (which is guaranteed to be caught by the refs).

    Boudreau CAN bench Semin because he can afford to bench him on a team where just about every line is contributing. What is surprising is that the same treatment isn’t given to Shultz. It appears to apply to Eskine from time to time as he is the first D-man scratched between injuries to Poti’s groin.

  • M

    “You can’t bench Mike Green and Nicky Backstrom”

    Maybe so, but you can call them out for their poor play during interviews after games. And Boudreau would rather chop his arm off and shove it up his ass rather than do that.

    And all this talk about Semin’s penalties and ill advised/ill timed/etc? How about Nick’s astounding ability to take penalties late in the period, killing any chance of scoring/evening the score, or having the other team score? His penalties are just as stupid and just as ill timed… but why focus on that and call him out when we can shriek and howl about Semin for the fifty-billionth time?

    He could score fifteen goals in the cup final, cure cancer, end the Libyan conflict and get Jersey Shore canceled, and Caps fans would want him beheaded because he didn’t do it sooner.

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