Photo credit: Nick Wass
It’s been a long time. The Washington Capitals are back in action, opening up their 2011-2012 season at home. Hosting the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps have a lot of drama in their rear view, and a lot of questions to answer. Goalie drama, Alex Ovechkin’s return to glory, Sasha cares, the new guys, offensive doldrums. You’ve heard it all before. Get ready for some answers.
In the second period Eric Staal put the puck past a sucked-out Michal Neuvirth. Hooked up by a smart outlet pass from John Carlson, Alex Semin guided the puck in to tie it up. That near-goal Jason Chimera breakaway thing happened for the billionth time, but Jason finally hit his target. But Eric Staal tied it up early in the third by waiting in the right spot. On a climactic 5 on 3, gorgeous Brooks Laich returned the rebound. But with the extra skater, Jussi Jordache Jokinen snuck one past Neuvy. In a penalty-ridden OT, Mike Green served the puck into– and beyond– Boucher’s love-making region. Game over. Caps win 4-3 (OT).
- Lemme open with this: The Capitals have snapped the Curse of the Oil Painting. Having lost four consecutive and not unimportant games since we posted that story, the Caps have said they are masters of their own destiny.
- For such an early game, it’s odd that we got the leftover goalies. The Canes gave Cam Ward the night off after he gave up 5 the night before, so Brian Boucher got the nod. With the team that we actually care about, Tomas Vokounwas the one with the numb rear end. His services will be more dearly needed against the Bolts and Pens this week, so we’re happy to see our boy Neuvy out there.
- I don’t like the term “new-look”, so I’m not gonna use it. But these Capitals had a somewhat novel appearance tonight.
- The Caps were really in control tonight, with 17 scoring chances to Carolina’s 11.
- Sasha cares. But you already knew that. But perhaps too much, as Alex Semin‘s check-from-behind in the closing moments earned him a stupid penalty and may earn him a suspension under the new Brendan Shanahan regime.
- Joel Ward‘s assist on Jason Chimera’s goal was his 100th NHL point. This would be a lot more meaningful if the 99 before it weren’t for some other team, but still: well done, sir.
- Eric Staal was well vetted in our pregame (big ups to the Puck Buddys for that post by the way), and for good reason. His 6 shots and three points made him the biggest threat on the ice. Nice work by the opposition.
- Semin’s and Chimera’s goals were showstoppers, but the team can’t rely on that style for production. We’ve yet to see the reliable bank of scoar from which we’ll be withdrawing all season.
- Mathieu Perreault, who made the roster by doing well in games that don’t count, acquitted himself quite well tonight. He was on-ice for 4 scoring chances, 2 of which he created his own damn self. Might as well rent an apartment in Ballston or take over Karl Alzner’s guest room; he’s gonna be around for a bit.
- Mike Knuble had at least four opportunities for kanoobing tonight, but converted none. It’ll happen.
- Brooks Laich‘s crucial goal was his first since March 15th.
- Finally, congratulations to Sarah M. who won RMNB’s first-ever pick em’ contest. Ian promises your prizes are in the mail.
It feels good to be back. Just 1/82nd into the campaign, and we’ve already seen some riotous hockey fun. Yeah, it was a slow start, but c’mon! Halfway into that third period, didn’t this feel just like the kind of Caps game you love? High-scoring, unnecessarily dramatic, Craig Laughlin saying things that don’t really make sense, and the big hero moment! You see that net– the one Brian Boucher was in front of? That thing was thoroughly crashed.
I loved this game. What did you think?
See you on Monday.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg, who gets tweeted at a lot when Chimera scores.