Pot roast. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals had only one date with the Anaheim Ducks on the calendar this year, so they played it like two totally different teams. The Caps of the first half hour were disorganized and besieged. The Caps of the second half hour were focused and buzzing. A hole was dug by the former and filled in by the latter.
Saku Koivu siezed on bad communication between Wideman and Hamrlik to score the game’s first goal. Teemu Selanne took a pass from Koivu for a lay up goal to make it 2-0. Selanne notched another one in the second period, thanks for some more bad defense and a weak-side pass. Joel Ward got the Caps on board with a close wrister that went five-hole. Dennis Wideman capitalized (puns!) on a scrambling Hiller, slapping home a goal making it 3-2. Corey Perry took a couple swats at a loose puck in the paint to make it 4-2. Troy Brouwer’s shot gave Hiller trouble and kept the game interesting. With six attackers and less than a minute remaining, Nick Backstrom made the net quiver. Tie game. 4-on-4 overtime, where Backstrom struck again by slapping a bouncing puck into a gaping net. Game over! Caps beat Ducks 5-4 (OT).
The last offensive-zone possession of the Capitals’ last power play ended with Alex Ovechkin trying to move the puck between a defender’s legs. Once upon a time, this move worked. It does not any more. Now it is an infuriatingly selfish play that deprives the team of any chance at scoring. The puck-handling whiz version of Alex Ovechkin needs to retire. It’s time for Alex Ovechkin v2.0– a positionally savvy, cherry-picking deviant– to reign.
Fitting then, that Bruce Boudreau didn’t give Ovechkin a tap on the shoulder for that extra-man shift at the end of regulation. This is the Age of Accountability after all, and not even the Great Eight is beyond reproach.
But a win is a win. And for all the pathos of that first period, we look at the bright spots: Dennis Wideman is soaring and Nick Backstrom knows when to strike. The Capitals played a disciplined game, except for that one lapse by their goalie. It’s progress.
We’ll talk about the defensive goofs and the reconfigured line-ups, but for now– the Caps are still perfect at Verizon Center.
See you on Friday, when the Capitals will drive you crazy for a little while before turning into a totally different team.
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