Two sweet, sweet regulation points.
By winning this game, the Caps pulled within two points of division-leading Florida, and shockingly we were even able to keep them from getting a loser point! We gather this is basically their whole strategy this year, but the Caps are finally starting to crowd their space again. Watch your backs, Florida.
The Caps left Tomas Fleischmann completely open in front of the net to score the game’s first goal. Mike Knuble created some great crease havoc on the power play for Alex Ovechkin to bat it in. Alex Semin fired one of those comets over Theodore to make it a two-Sasha game. Caps win, 2-1.
- Mike Knuble finally made his return to the lineup tonight! I’m not going to spend too much time questioning decisions that I don’t know all the information about, but safe to say that we feel a little more at peace with him on the ice. This guy always competes, no matter what. He probably competes when he’s playing hockey with his kids in the driveway.
- Tomas Vokoun took a rare goalie penalty in the first, and generally spent the beginning of the game handling the puck like it was a grenade. It was worrying. Everyone wondered if he was really feeling better, but he seemed to settle down as the game went on and then came up huge in the last few minutes against his former squad.
- We don’t want to make fun of struggling hockey markets. We’ve been there before, and the Panthers are a good team. It was really quiet and empty in that stadium tonight, though. We got creeped out.
- Jeff Schultz committed…boarding? I know, I was confused, too, but coming off the game where he scored an unexpected goal, 55 had a few solid hits, a moment of fancy stickhandling (really!), and he manhandled a Panther along the boards in a late-third-period scrum. We have no idea what’s gotten into him lately.
- Jose Theodore stonewalled us. Flash scored on us. It was a very ex-boyfriend kind of game, I was half-expecting Marco Sturm to come out of nowhere and assist on something from IR.
- The Caps were not the most coordinated you have ever seen them, in fact, they continued their new strategy of colliding with teammates at every opportunity. Brooks Laich got a wide-open scoring chance in the second period, only to have Knuble run him over. They’re, uh — still perfecting this net-crashing thing.
- Does it count as Knuble breaking his scoreless streak if the goal is waved off? Sadly not. It was a terrible, terrible call, but it stood nonetheless, wasn’t even reviewed. We’re really sorry, Knubes. You have 500 goals in our hearts.
- The pucks took their malice elsewhere tonight — on a Caps powerplay, linesman Andy McElman took a deflected Florida shot to the face and left the ice in obvious pain. Ouch. Hope he’s all right, we don’t wish 60 MPH vulcanized rubber to the face on anyone.
The Caps cared tonight. It was a scary, often sloppy kind of game, but you’ve gotten used to that. The Caps don’t necessarily dominate every game they play anymore, but tonight they wanted it, bad, they got in the crease even when they got in trouble for it and they got nasty when necessary. Oh, and they had Mike Knuble.
Help is coming, Caps fans. We need reinforcements. We need to reload the artillery. We will not be idle at the deadline, trust in GMGM and you shall be rewarded. Tonight, though, they made it work, and these two points make a difference.