Photo credit: Mike Carlson
The Washington Capitals ended their vacation in America’s unit by mixing it up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game featured the return of Mike Green to active duty and Mike Knuble to the top line, but precious little else.
Just 130 seconds in, a neutral-ice turnover by Dmitry Orlov led to Tom Pyatt’s puck dribbling past Vokoun. Just 110 seconds into the second period, a turnover by Matt Hendricks led to Steven Stamkos’s breakaway and the 40th goal of his season. Brooks Laich redirected a Matthieu Perreault pass into the weak side of the Tampa net to make it 2-1. A Marcus Johansson penalty nixed the team’s chances at a comeback.
- I was in the car when I heard Mike Green was playing tonight. The poor Prius could hardly withstand the flurry of air punches and horn honking.
- The Caps had a golden opportunity on the second power play. Alex Semin chopped the puck, going just barely wide and into Victor Hedman‘s glove. Hedman, who is the Steckel of the South, grabbed the puck and threw it out of the paint. Rules 63.5 and 64.7 of the NHL rulebook says that’s a penalty shot. Vokoun was later snowed by a Tampa player without justice being served, leading one to think his net has become a temporary autonomous zone during game time.
- Congrats to Steven Stamkos, who recorded his 40th goal of the year. He’s an elite talent and responsible for a lot of scoring in a league that needs more of it.
- In addition to being an emotional turning point in the game, Brooks Laich’s goal was also a great example of when Hunter Hockey goes right. It was a good shift deep in the Lightning zone, and the vertical movement from Semin to Perreault opened up the space for Brooks Laich to score. Since we’re so critical of DH32, it’s important that we acknowledge his successes. Or, ya know, solitary success.
- As your boy Mike Vogel pointed out, Saturday marks the 8-year anniversary of Brooks Laich‘s entry to the Caps organization. He was acquired in exchange for someone named Peter Bondra. This all happened during what some (e.g. us) consider the lowest period of the team’s history, but perhaps it’d be better to think of that transaction as the beginning of the Caps’ Great Ascent. Nostalgia. Le sigh.
- Jack Anderson pointed out to us that Alex Semin has 26 points in 27 games and is averaging more than a point per game this month. Is somebody playing for a contract? Absolutely. Should he get one? Maybe. Should he get one before the postseason? NYET. Sasha took a mean puck and stick to the face in the final minute of the game.
- The better Jeff Schultz plays, the less we talk about him. If we’re really quiet about it, maybe Hunter will forget to scratch him.
- Tomas Vokoun started the third period by stopping a 100-foot shot on goal. Just wanted to point out that it really is possible to stop those.
Mike Green’s big comeback was kind of a quiet affair. For a guy who hasn’t played since the early 80s, his 14 minutes and change on ice was impressive, but he didn’t contribute significantly to the team’s offense.
And it was that lacking offense that cost the Capitals a win. After a string of games with ever-increasing shot totals, the Caps let down big here– tallying only 22.
The Caps gain no ground in the division or conference. They are two points behind Florida and one behind Toronto. Bummer. Two more road games.
Finally, here’s @jopierce‘s artist rendering of Joe B’s suit. Thanks!