Photo: Dave Reginek
What a game. If the Washington Capitals could play the Detroit Red Wings 82 times a year, we’d be happy campers. After that tremendous 7-1 thrashing back in October, the Caps’ fortunes shifted dramatically. But here we are again– late in the campaign– and the Caps have that spark. If only they could keep it glowing for a full hour of hockey.
Marcus Johansson delivered a perfect pass to Alex Ovechkin, who fired a perfect one-timer from the perfect spot. Mike Knuble made it 2-0 by finishing off a smart passing sequence with Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault. Ovechkin got another by skating around the trainwreck in front of Jimmy Howard and wristing it. Kyle Quincey got one back in the second period with a long bomb that rang iron, but Keith Aucoin nullified with a spin-o-rama made possible by Alex Semin.
Just half a minute into the third, Todd Bertuzzi beat Holtby’s slow glove hand to give Detroit some life. Danny Cleary crashed Holtby’s net to make it 4-3, and things got tense. Jason Chimera defused it with an empty netter. Caps beat Wings 5-3.
- Alex Ovechkin notched two goals in the first period. That makes 5 goals in 4 games for the Caps captain, who seems to play better the more the press and fans talk trash about him. In a rare moment of honesty: I really admire that.
- To no one’s surprise, Braden Holtby got the call-up and start for the second half of this back-to-back pair of games. The Caps D-corps kept most of the Red Wings to the perimeter, but Holtby was solely at fault for a lazy glove save attempt on that Bertuzzi goal. But that’s why the boys from DC invented a little thing called goal support. Yeah, he looked a bit shaky at the end, but Holtby stopped 27 of 29 even strength shots and earned the win, and that’s all we care about at this point in the season.
- The Caps were outshot by the Wings, but that’s to be expected from a team as strong on the puck as Detroit. The difference between the W and the not-so-W– the Caps’ creativity in front of Jimmy Howard. Finding one another in the slot, out-dueling blueliners in the paint– those goals are lifeblood for an anemic season.
- Detroit was not so composed for 40 minutes. D-zone turnovers and off-sides whistles opened up the game in their end and stymied them in ours. These guys set an NHL record with sterling home play earlier this season, but on Monday they looked merely beatable until that big comeback.
- Meanwhile, Hunter Hockey perseveres. After showing us some exciting hockey in the first period, the Caps backed off in the final frame. Just three shots on net. That’s why Detroit was able to end this game with a plus-25 Corsi score. Getting an early lead shuts down the nervous system of the Caps offense. It’s not just boring to watch, it’s an obviously bad strategy.
- Three goals in four games for Mike Knuble. It’s not about changing his game or back-half-ing it, it’s just what happens when you give Mike a chance. He’s the best.
- Yikes. Except for that excruciating, late-game trip he committed two zip codes away from his own net with the game on the line.
- REMINDER: Alex Semin is weird. But 400 points is a big deal. Congrats, ya big loon.
- And how refreshing is it to see the other team get their goal taken away for being too physical in the paint? Kronwall, we feel your pain. And we love it.
Great win. The Caps came out in the first like a determined unit. They were creative and dynamic and exciting and fun. They scored on the transition, on the power play, in the scrum.
And then they sat on it. That’s… that’s just not gonna fly. That’s not the kind of hockey that captures hearts and minds. We’re not gonna build America’s hockey capital by sitting back on our heels. Three third period shots? Get real.
Sorry to complain. The most important thing is that this team can make the postseason if they keep it up.
Philly on Thursday. Crash it.