Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
Although hockey has been back for over a week now, the lockout seemed longer to the Washington Capitals and their fans. Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres put a definitive end to that. The Caps were poised, aggressive, and — most importantly– victorious for the first time this season.
And oh yeah, Ovi scored.
John Carlson allowed a bad breakaway that became a goal for Tyler Ennis, but Joel Ward occupied the slot a few minutes later to restore the tie. John Erskine scored a sneaky goal from outside to give the Caps their first lead since the
season home opener vs. Winnipeg. Then, Alex Ovechkin scored a glorious powerplay goal with a one-timer that went top shelf on Ryan Miller. Marcus Foligno got one back for Buffalo, feeding at Neuvirth’s trough to make it 3-2.
Caps beat Sabres 3-2!
- Welcome back, Alex Ovechkin. That was a monster shot, that game winner, and the kind of one-timer we wanna see more of on the powerplay. It’s like the part in Hook where they have to force Peter Pan’s face into a smile before they recognize him. There you are, Ovi!
- But maybe nail that empty netter next time?
- Joel Ward scored 6 goals in 73 games last season. We’ve just wrapped up game 5 of this new season, and he’s already got three. He’s definitely getting some luck (his shooting percentage is like 20% higher than it should be), but he’s getting more ice time and doing more with it than he had been in seasons past. Let’s see more.
- John Carlson hasn’t missed a game since he joined the team full-time in 2010. After his poor stickhandling gave Tyler Ennis a breakaway goal, it’s perhaps time John ended his iron man streak.
- On that breakaway, Alex Ovechkin was on neutral ice. As Ennis and company stormed Neuvirth’s net, Ovechkin coasted into the Caps zone without a quantum of urgency. The rest of his game was energetic, but Washington’s captain casually strolling on the backcheck is a really bad visual. I have a feeling more people will remember that sweet one-timer more though.
- The last time John Erskine scored a goal: Obama was president, global mean temperature was increasing, people were still reading news on their phones, Justin Bieber was famous, and the RMNB site had a big gray thing at the top of every page.
- Michal Neuvirth‘s save on Mikhail Grigorenko early in the third was a work of art. Neuvy had to go full split to deny the 18-year-old rookie what would have been his first NHL goal. It was a quality start from Michal with smart reads and some groin-defying moves.
- Two-point games for Mike Ribeiro, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera. Secondary scoring is going to be absolutely essential in a shortened season, and these are the guys we need producing.
I missed much of the last few games (Thanks for the assist, PuckBuddys!), and maybe that’s why I haven’t panicked about the Capitals. Sunday’s game was actually pretty damn encouraging. I liked the shot totals, particularly the volume of shots on the powerplay. I liked Neuvirth’s positional intelligence. I liked Schultz’s physical D, and Jay Beagle playing finesse hockey for a brilliant moment. I liked the Ward-Chimera pairing. I liked the horn guy’s embouchure. I liked Joe B’s suit (look at that stitching!).
It felt like Capitals hockey again.
Don’t get me wrong: I still want more offense, and the Caps won’t truly be back until someone’s groin disintegrates and the Canadian media talks trash about Ovechkin, but this is a good start.
See you on Tuesday!
From Caps Instragram