Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
After letting the Jets steal two points on Friday, the Washington Capitals direly needed a win against the Minnesota Wild to keep them off the golf course come April 8th. Aware of this fact, the Capitals played a smart game– even after getting the lead.
A little over 30 minutes in, Alex Semin accelerated into the Wild zone and set up Jason Chimera for a smart opening goal. Mathieu Perreault crashed the net for a goal on an undeserved power play. Alex Ovechkin did the Alex Ovechkin thing in the third. Caps beat Wild 3-0.
- For a while it seemed like this game would be a tightly reffed affair, which probably would have been good news for the Caps if they could have mustered more than one shot on goal in their first two PP opportunities.
- Under the rules of our The-Universe-Hates-the-Caps theory, a puck that goes over the glass after hitting Mike Knuble’s stick does not yield a power play. But it happened and now we must assimilate new information into our unified theory of everything. That PP led to Perreault’s goal, which makes it a doubly tough break for the Wild, but mistakes will happen in this sport as long as it is ref’d by humans. Or until there’s a coach’s challenge.
- Unless you’re muting NBC (in which case, nice!), you’ve heard someone compare Braden Holtby to Ron Hextall. They’re both eccentric goalies who have played in PA, but at this point in Holtby’s career the comparison is absurd. We love love love Braden, but he’s still a little, pink, newborn pup in the NHL. Even with the excellence tongiht, let’s hold off on the Hextall chatter … unless we’re trying to deal him in the offseason.
- Uber alles, good goaltending wins games. Holtby gave the Caps that tonight, including pulling some crease-clearing barbarian moves that got Verizon Center cheering. 28 saves and the third career shutout for the kid from Saskatchewan.
- Unleashing the fury is one Alex Ovechkin, riding a five-game scoring streak on another classic Ovi goal. Add to that his crucial secondary assist on Perry’s PPG, and you’ve got another great multi-point game from the Captain. Add to that a brilliant check to stop a shorthanded chance, and you’ve got good stuff on both ends of the ice. We will just skip the part about that one turnover in front of Holtby.
- Ululations about his decline aside, Alex Ovechkin is now 4th in the NHL in goals scored. He’s tied with Phil Kessel, which has a sort of poetic symmetry to it.
- Usually the Capitals play conservative with a two-goal lead. The “prevent defense”, which is about as effective as the rhythm method contraception, was thankfully absent tonight.
- Uhh.. were they chanting HOLTBY or OVI at the end there?
- Calling this game a must-win was apt. The Capitals are back in 8th place, and Tuesday’s opponent, the Buffalo Sabres, held out of the playoffs due to the tiebreaker. So I guess Tuesday is a must-win as well. They’re all must-wins. Whatever, we’ve been calling games must-win since November. We were doing it when it was still underground, but now it’s all trendy.
- Kick back and enjoy the rest of your Sunday night. Your Caps won. Mix up a sidecar, put on your most comfy slimline suit and skinny tie, smoke a billion cigarettes, and watch Mad Men. Take it easy. You earned it.
No Joe B pic tonight. This game was on NBC Sports, so while it had Doc Emrick’s capable play-by-play work, it lacked the intelligence and non-dick-ish-ness of a CSN broadcast. Call us whiners if you want. I think we just have good taste in TV.
See you on Tuesday. Sabres. Must win. Crash the net.