Grabo. (Photo: Bruce Bennett)
It’s been a good weekend for Washington fans.
Wait, lemme take another swing at that.
It’s been a good weekend for Washington Capitals fans. After a convincing win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, the Capitals popped the balloon of a goalie who has given them hell in recent months. An explosive second period gave the Caps a big lead, and the superb Philipp Grubauer had an answer for all but one Rangers shot.
After a scoreless first period, Jason Chimera finally ended Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout streak by paying the price in the paint. An outside shot by Steve Oleksy was deflected just 25 seconds later to make it 2-0. Mikhail Grabovski earned a penalty shot on a late-period breakaway, and he freaking roofed it with a point-blank slapper. The Caps held a 3-0 lead after forty minutes.
Nate Schmidt, yes, Nate Schmidt added one in the third, but Pouliot returned fire to break Grubi’s shutout before the buzzer. A bummer, but a great win.
Caps beat Rangers 4-1!
- Henrik Lundqvist has had the Caps’ number. For 202 minutes and 28 seconds, including the playoffs, Lundqvist kept the Caps without a goal. Jason Chimera busted that whole thing up with a crash-the-net move, and Steve Oleksy— fresh from the healthy scratch list– got a perimeter shot in. Great, but why didn’t they try that back in May? Heh.
- An important factor on that Chimera goal was Martin Erat, whose no-look pass to the crease deserves a lot of the credit. In the snapshot earlier on Sunday, I said, “Erat’s doing what Grabovski did a few weeks earlier– adding puck control to a line flanked by physical players.” Boom. I’m psychic. But not as psychic as F.O.T.B. Max Duchaine:
— Max Duchaine (@maxduchaine) December 8, 2013
- The gap between the Caps’ goals in the second period was 25 seconds. The Capitals have been about as bad as an NHL team can be in that window after goals, so the renewed offensive interest was good news. The good luck was even better news.
- Scratch that. The Pouliot goal late in the third came right on the heels of Schmidt’s. Fiddlesticks.
- Marcus Johansson hasn’t committed a penalty this season. The high stick he drew in the middle frame was the seventh he’s drawn. Ian, upon me telling him: “That’s such a Swedish stat.”
- I love Grabo. You love Grabo. Even those guys who were like “Ribeiro is jokes; Grabo suuuuucks” (Randy Carlyle?) love Grabo now. He’s the anchor on the Caps best line, but I wanna look at his penalty shot. Mikhail Grabovski ambled up to the middle of the slot and then unleashed a powerful slapshot that soared up on Lundqvist. You don’t see that tactic a lot anymore (outside Alex Semin), but man did it ever freaking work this time. John Walton’s call of the goal was superb:
And here’s the replay:
- Ovechkin. Nash. Smileypunches.
- Nate Schmidt scored in back-to-back games. If Alzner ever does that, I’m shaving my head and getting a My Little Pony tattoo.
- Adam Oates decided to bench his Ace and play Philipp Grubauer for the second half of this back-to-back. History will look fondly upon this decision. Sunday was just Grubi’s fourth NHL appearance, his second start, and he was a nigh invulnerable like The Tick.
That could not have gone any better. The Caps overcame a sluggish start to dominate the possession game. They kept their metaphorical foot on the metaphorical gas pedal after scoring and got rewarded for it.
Henrik Lundqvist and his reduced-size pads were insufficient against a Caps offense in Thundercloud Formation: a crash-the-net goal from Chimera, a deflected sniper shot from Binky, and Grabo on the penalty shot. Add Nate Schmidt’s insurance goal late in the third and this was officially a scoar-moar-goals affair.
And then there’s Grubi. By the third period I was doing air fists every time he made a save. The broken shutout stings a bit, but the two points and the solid youngling holding down the crease are better. Great first W for the young guy.
The Capitals now own second in the Metro without contest. The team is playing better than they ever have. They evicted Lundqvist from his perch inside their heads. Whatever happens with that football team, let’s be glad the Caps are the Caps.