????? (Photo credit: Jana Chytilova)
The Washington Capitals’ only win under Coach Hunter came from the Ottawa Senators, whom they met again on Wednesday. It was their second meeting in a week, and it was freaking terrific.
Jeff Halpern recovered Dennis Wideman’s rebound to make it 1-0. With Vokoun and Erskine bobbling the puck, Erik Condra took a stab and tied it up. Nick Foligno combined speed and patience to score just as the power play expired. Brooks Laich set up Nick Backstrom, who roofed the tying goal on the power play. Alex Ovechkin looped around the Ottawa net, suckered his defender, and loosed the go-ahead goal. Troy Brouwer piled on 15 seconds later with his Gordie Howe Hat Trick goal. Milan Michalek needed like 5 milliseconds to score on a late-game power play. John Carlson sniped the empty netter. Caps beat Sens 5-3.
- So, wait… you’re telling me John Carlson and Erik Karlsson are NOT related?
- Ottawa’s Chris Neil got whistled for embellishment after an iffy hit by Alex Ovechkin. So dedicated to his diving craft is Mr. Neil that he struggled to get up, held his midsection with a grimace on his face, and spent his penalty in the locker room. What a committed actor. Okay, yeah. That was definitely an A1 spear to the yambag by 8 there. Neil spent the rest of the game following Ovi around like an belligerent toddler. [See our article about Ovechkin spearing Neil]
- The Capitals let the bulk of the second period go without putting up any offense. Neil Greenberg reports that around 17 minutes elapsed between Caps scoring chances, which bookended 2 Senators goals. Bad. One of those goals was a lovely effort by Foligno, the other was a woeful mistake by John Erskine.
- FIGHT! It’s Troy Brouwer versus Jesse Winchester:
- That fight, plus his assist, plus his goal… that means… Troy Brouwer wins the Gordie! Scroll on down for Ian’s commemorative RMNB illustration.
- The Capitals tried mightily to make something happen on their lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity, but bad habits (i.e. overpassing) are hard to break. The power play came and went like so many have this season.
- But then Nick Backstrom scored the Capitals first power play of the Dale Hunter era and the first since the Rangers on November 25th, when we were all still om nom nomming on leftovers.
- Alex Ovechkin was heading for a frustrating night. He was a powerhouse in enemy territory, offering 7 shots– most from between 10 and 30 feet., drawing a penalty, making big moves and… IT WORKED! Ovechkin’s goal was a dominant play that reminded everyone that he can be the most captivating player in the NHL.
- Peter of Chirps from the Ledge shared a crucial observation: the power play gave up no shorthanded chances tonight. Sadly, this really is notable.
- Alex Semin returned to the ice after missing three games. Stick penalty. Classic Sasha! At least he didn’t have to linger in the box long; Michalek scored five seconds later.
- Alex Semin’s understudy Joel Ward also contributed two awful stick penalties. Children, this is why we can’t have blow-out wins.
Can we play Ottawa every night? I know they’re not Cup contenders or anything, but we need this right now! The Hunter‘s Capitals are still embryonic and their confidence is fragile. Every win means the world to the team psyche right now, not to mention the conference standings, which… well, just don’t look right now.
So another win: the second of Hunter’s NHL career, the second against Ottawa. The bleeding has stopped, and maybe– just maybe– Ovechkin has turned a corner. The boys should be smiling on their trip home.
At least until they see the tarmac covered in snow.
Congratulations to Troy Brouwer on his first Gordie Howe as a Washington Capital!
Illustration by Ian Oland, who really does have a degree in graphic design.