This is a legal hit in Canada.
Heading into tonight’s game, there was no doubt that the Jets’ season was on the line. With a loss, they would fall six points behind the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot — all but essentially eliminating them from the playoff race. “These are games that define your team,” Evander Kane told The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “And we’re going to see what we’re made of.” Sure are.
Predictably, the Jets came out fired-up and scored first. Andrew Ladd tallied his 24th goal of the season on literally a magical backhander. 22 seconds later, the Capitals responded, as Marcus Johansson perfectly placed a slap-pass onto Brooks Laich’s blade and watched him tip it in past a helpless Ondrej Pavelec.
Late in the second period, the Jets regained the lead as Nik Antropov out-worked Ovechkin to the front of the net to flip one past Vokoun. Mathieu “I’m teeny tiny like a leprechaun” Perrault managed to tie the game again on a third period power play. Unfortunately, Dustin Byfuglien and his big rear were too much to handle. Jets beat Caps, 3-2.
- First, let’s get this out of the way now. The officiating was terrible. And by terrible, I mean Guns N’ Roses “Chinese Democracy” bad. In the first period, Marcus Johansson was checked directly in the head by Mark Stuart. You would think that the official ten-feet away from the play would call something, right? Nope. Then in the second period, as Jason Chimera back-checked, a Winnipeg player dramatically threw his own stick in the air to try and draw a whistle. No dice. Well, that is until the crowd started booing and having a hissy fit. Up goes the arm. Finally, in the waning minutes of the third period, Keith Aucoin took a high-stick to the face, which mangled his lip and drew blood. It seemed like the text-book definition of a double-minor. But not tonight. I hate ever using officiating as an excuse or a crutch, but it was bad. And lately, it seems like the Capitals have been consistently getting the short-end of the stick. Gary, please take notice and correct this immediately.
- The stat sheet says Alex Ovechkin had five shots and five hits. Yet, tomorrow, all I’m going to remember is his lackadaisical defense on Nik Antropov’s second period goal, the multiple big hits he absorbed, and the Winnipeg crowd chanting “Crosby’s better.”
- Presenting the first Alex Semin hip-check video in existence…
- Tomas Vokoun was sensational, and so was his goal post, as it turned away four potential Jets goals. Without it, the score would have been much uglier.
- Despite not registering a single point, Jay Beagle was named the Caps player of the game. And indeed, he played one of his best career games. His penalty killing during the Jets nearly 2-minute 5-on-3 power play during the second period was heroic stuff. At one point, he blocked a 90 MPH slapper from Dustin Byfuglien, found the strength to get up, and then broke up a scoring chance from his belly. Beagle also almost managed to score in the first period by going hard to the net and trying to stuff the puck past Pavlec. He also went a tremendous 14 for 20 in the face-off dot, which is huge in the absence of Nicklas Backstrom. It has been such a treat for me personally to see this guy turn into a NHL player. Hard work really does pay off.
- If I cross my fingers and pray before bed that Marcus Johansson didn’t suffer a concussion tonight, I’ll wake up and he’ll be fine tomorrow right?
- Brooks Laich‘s goal tonight was his fourth in six games. He’s heating up.
- Want some kind of silver lining? The Caps are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and still own sole possession of the eight and final playoff spot.
The Capitals will now turn their attention to two difficult sets of back-to-back games. First, they will travel out to Chicago on Sunday to take on the Blackhawks and then on Monday night they’ll face the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Three nights later, they’ll make the drive up I-95 to take on the red-hot Flyers before returning home on Friday to take on these same Winnipeg Jets.
Guys, this is gonna be tense. It’s nail-biting time. These are four crucial games that may very well decide if the Caps are golfing in April or are division champs.
You see why we named RMNB Party 4: Judgement Day?
Well, I have faith. Do you?
PS – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!