Photo credit: Graig Abel
Not a bad way to go out. The Washington Capitals’ domination of the Toronto Maple Leafs was likely the last we’ll see from this version of the team. Knowing this, the Caps busted out all their greatest hits from the last few years. Let’s review!
Marcus Johansson wrapped around Reimer’s net for an unchallenged goal in the first minute. Alex Semin fought off Luke Schenn and scored five-hole. Jeff Halpern took two whacks and hit top shelf. Keith Aucoin finished a bang-bang sequence from Johansson and Ovechkin to make it 4-0.
Colby Armstrong cracked the shutout with a wristshot early in the third period. Tim Connolly got a greasy one on a power play to make it interesting, but they ran out of time. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.
- The Capitals have won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month. They have peaked over 30 shots a game for the 5th time in the last 10 games.
- Michal Neuvirth was almost perfect in Toronto, including denying the dirtiest player in the NHL, Dave Steckel, on a breakaway significant more for the bloodlines involved rather than any fancy stickwork. 28 saves for Mikey, many of them k-rad.
- 5’9″ Keith Aucoin had not scored in the NHL since October of 2009. A two-step plan to ending that drought: pair him with dynamic players like Ovechkin and Johansson, and put him against a Toronto defense that might have been high.
- Also busting slumps is Jeff Halpern, whose post-sunset goal on Saturday was his first since December 13 and his first point in over a month.
- Also on the topic of faceoff specialists, Dirty Dave went a hearty 9 for 14 on the dot. Less awesome when he’s on the other team, but it’s been 2 years, so we should probably get over it.
- What is with Marcus Johansson and wraparound goals? He’s got three this season. And here we were thinking that wraparound went extinct with passenger pigeons and thylacines.
- Dennis Wideman used his wrist to absorb a hit into the boards late in the second period. It didn’t look good, but Wides returned in the third. Heh. That rhymes.
- Toronto goalie James Reimer is embattled. He’s getting criticism from his own GM, and this game sort of tells you why. Reimer wasn’t flawless, but he is also playing behind a defensive unit that looked unengaged when it mattered. It’s fun to comment on other teams’ misery for once.
- Yes, CSN’s Jill Sorenson jinxed the shutout. That’s just superstition, so we won’t hold it against her. But her awful non-apology apology afterwards (“sorry if I jinxed that for you”) just made it worse. You don’t apologize if something; you apologize for something.
This game was just fantastic. Withstanding a late-game rally, the Caps won a crucial road games and stole another pair of points from the Eastern Conference.
The Leafs are struggling– that’s obvious– but let’s not allow that to detract from the Caps’ jam session. Those long offensive shifts, dangling pucks and threading passes between befuddled defenders, remind us of a team we’ve been missing as dearly as an amputated limb.
The Capitals host the Islanders on Tuesday, but we don’t know exactly who will be rocking the red in Caps uniforms by then. Elliotte Friedman says George McPhee is not interested in rentals, so a shopping spree of free agents at the end of their contracts is unlikely. GMGM is thinking long-term, which is bold.
Either way, a change is coming. Get ready.