Photo: Grant Halverson
I’m just glad we had a game to watch tonight. Going two days without a game in Capsland is like Lord of the Flies in fast forward; it gets ugly quick. We had a little bit of a mutiny last night, so I for one am grateful for a distraction. The distraction on this weirdly warm Friday night was the Carolina Hurricanes and their Staal brothers, for whom many bothans died to provide access codes past the Capitals defense. Putting Philipp Grubauer through his paces, the Canes outplayed the Caps but were unprepared for the Caps’ Jeet Kune Do on special teams.
Jordan Staal scored in the first period, finally converting after 17 or 18 semi-breakaways. The Capitals returned fire on a powerplay early in the the second when Marcus Johansson got all up in the net’s piece. John Carlson put the Caps up with a bullet on another PP, but Riley Nash tied it up with a rebound from the crease– again on the powerplay. And then, because all must goals must come during special teams, Troy Brouwer deflected in the go-ahead goal for the Caps while Sasha Semin was in the Sasha box.
And then Alex Ovechkin scored his 400th career goal on the empty net!
Caps beat Canes 4-2!
- The Capitals were bleeding scoring chances in the first, forcing Philipp Grubauer to make some athletic saves. Going full split or diving to stop all those breakaways (breaksaway?)– well, it’s like blocking a shot: you like that it’s done, but you don’t like that he had to do it. Reminded me of Varlamov, both in that it was athletic/impressive and that it was indicative of lots of defensive breakdowns. Anyway, I figure Grubi isn’t long for the NHL, but having confidence in the third-string goalie probably opens up a lot of options for management.
- Underlining the Capitals’ reliance on The Dude for offense, this would have been just Alex Ovechkin‘s first two-assist game of the season until the league took his second apple away. He doesn’t mind. He got his 400th goal tonight, joining quite early in his career the company of the league’s best-ever goal scorers — and he has done it in an era when goals are much harder to come by.
- Alex Semin was like, “remember me, y’all?” and then he tripped Mike Green. The Caps scored while he was in the box. Jon Bon Jovi was right: You can go home again.
- Nick Backstrom got an assist on all three of those second-period powerplay goals. Nick Backstrom is The Applecart. Begin drafting t-shirts and signs now.
- We have obtained exclusive video of the fight that did not occur between John Erskine and Tim Gleason:
- Speaking of John Erskine, I thought my TV was going in slow motion every time I saw him skating.
- Goal-scorer Marcus Johansson took his last shift at 15:29 of the second period. Caps PR have announced he has suffered a lower-body injury. After professing my newfound love for the Swede, I’m besadded to see him hurt.
- “Besadded.” I’m having the rough times with the words and the words in sentences.
- The Capitals’ penalties were all committed by their PK stalwarts: Alzner, Alzner (again), Backstrom, Carlson, Brouwer, and Erskine. Haha, just kidding with that last one. The Caps were almost perfect on the kill, so all things considered, not bad!
- Best Joe B call of the night is when he just said, “Faulk.” Faulk!
The Caps won and we are happy. Ovechkin looked like he wouldn’t score goal #400 and we are sad. And then he did score #400 and we are happy. And then lots of penalties and we are sad. But then Nick Backstrom got
three FOAR assists and I called them “apples” and we are happy. Marcus Johansson got hurt and we are sad.
Even in a relatively quiet game, the Caps never make it easy.
They got genuinely outplayed in this one from the opening tip-off, through halftime, past the two-minute warning, and all the way to the ninth inning. The glut of Caps penalties, I guess, shouldn’t be surprising considering how little the Caps had the puck.
Whatever. It’s a W and Alex Ovechkin has added another career achievement to his list. We’re watching one of the all-time greats, and we should remind ourselves of that every time we’re feeling a bit grumpy about our Capitals. I’m feeling grumpy right now, so, okay now I feel better!
Crash the net and have a great Friday. Winter is coming. Like tomorrow. Also coming is Jaromir Jagr and the New Jersey Devils. See you back here.