I score? I really score? (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Coming into Tuesday’s game against the Predators, the Caps had been inefficient offensively, managing to score only one goal in each of their last three games. Would being confronted with two of the best defensemen in the league — Shea Weber and Ryan Suter — and a team that has played in 10-straight one goal games (7-3-0) somehow help their cause? Also, would an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring one of their team leaders, give the Caps a lift?
You bet your ass it did.
After the Capitals started the game off with four dominant shifts in the Predators zone, Alex Ovechkin — beautifully set-up by Karl Alzner — scored on a breakaway at 7:47 of the first. Later in the period, Nicklas Backstrom wrapped home goal number two of the night, his twelfth of the year. After a scoreless second period, Sergei Kostitsyn ruined Neuvy’s shutout bid with a twisted wrister from just outside the slot. Then Alex Semin decided he felt like scoring. Troy Brouwer, too! Caps beat Preds 4-1.
- At 7:14pm, Mike Knuble officially became the 269th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 career games. For a guy who didn’t really find his niche in the NHL until age 30, Knuble’s achievement is a true testament to his consistency, hard work, and character. What’s more interesting is that Kanoobs is the sixth player to achieve the milestone while playing with the Capitals. That list includes his current coach Dale Hunter, Adam Oates, Phil Housley, Calle Johansson, and Andrew Cassels. In honor of his achievement, we’ve dedicated an entire post to Knuble’s special night. You can check it out here.
- Inexplicably, Knuble received well under 1,000 seconds of playing time tonight from Coach Hunter. He finished the night with 10:07 TOI, 2:47 of it shorthanded, his lowest of the year by far. At least, they gave him the hard hat.
- Alex Ovechkin set the tone tonight, throwing three huge hits in his first two shifts. His goal: classic Ovechkin. The burst of speed that gave him the breakaway: even classic-er Ovechkin. All in all, Ovi rifled seven shots on net, was a threat every time he was on the ice, and I would say had his best game since Hunter took over.
- For 14 minutes, Alex Semin was invisible. And when he wasn’t invisible, he had an anti-midas touch. He took a first period boarding penalty, his 19th of the year. He decided to try a pretty, pretty pass instead of shooting on a 2-on-1 break in the second period and missed out on a surefire goal. His awful turnover in the third period, led directly to Kositisyn’s tally. But then, with a flick of a wrist, Semin showed his otherworldly talent and made me forget all abou… NO. I’m not falling for it…
- Okay, that was sick.
- This is kinda off point, but how great did it feel to watch the Caps score 1+ goals tonight? It was like I was watching my first ever hockey game again. I guess that goes to show you how low the lows have been this season.
- Jeff Halpern had a down night in the face-off dot, only winning 14 of 19.
- Dennis Wideman skated a game-high 28:44 and blocked four shots, including one off his own turnover in the second period. His accurate and hard slapshot from the point, led to Brouwer’s deflection goal on the brouwer play, putting the Caps ahead for good in the third.
- You would think Michal Neuvirth earned his fourth straight start Friday, with his strong play tonight. Neuvy stopped 20 shots and made the big saves when the Caps needed them. That includes that awful stretch between the first and second periods where the Caps only managed one shot on net.
- Roman Harmlik notched his second point as a Capital and his first since October 20th. He assisted on Backstrom’s wraparound.
- The Capitals finally beat an American team! Is this real?
- Special teams, man.
When the Capitals’ young guns bring their “A” game, this team is impossible to stop. “[Ovechkin] came out hitting and scoring and passing the puck,” Hunter exclaimed after the game. “He was a complete player tonight.” Sure was.
The Capitals, who improved to 5-5 under Dale, will now travel to New Jersey to face the Devils for the third time on Friday — an opponent they likely must pass if they are to qualify for the playoffs — before getting a two day break for Christmas.
So that gives you plenty of time to SEND US YOUR CAPS CHRISTMAS CARDS!
Photo credit: Clydeorama