Weekend at Bernier’s: Caps beat Leafs 3-2

Rob Carr

Photo: Rob Carr

We’re not particularly happy with the Capitals this season, but compared to Maple Leafs fans we’re the freaking Huxtables. The richest team in the league spends its bullion on goons (plural) and grinders, they proclaim that they alone have cracked the secret of scoring without shooting, and their coach chased Mikhail Grabovski out of town for no discernible reason. If the Caps are ugly, the Leafs are Eric Stoltz in Mask.

And that means almost nothing on a per-game basis. The Leafs had the puck more than the Caps for most of Friday night, which is just silly. Anyway, here’s how scoring went.

Alex Ovechkin streaked onto the ice to score his 32nd of the year, nicely set up by Grabo almost halfway into the game. JVR returned fire by deflecting Phil Kessel’s shot on a power play around the halfway point.

Early in the third, Phil Kessel beat Neuvirth thanks to Karl Alzner’s deflection, but Nicklas Backstrom tied it right back up with trick shot off Jay McClement’s skate. Totally deliberate. Joel Ward occupied the slot to beat Bernier and win the game.

Caps beat Leafs 3-2!

  • Named this one “weekend at Bernier’s” on a dare. I don’t even know what it means. But weekend game and I like Jonathan Silverman. I guess. Do I? Has that guy done anything in the last 15 years?
  • Mid-shift, Alex Ovechkin replaced a retreating Troy Brouwer on the ice in the first period. As Brouwer stepped off, Ovi stormed into the offensive zone just in time for former Leaf Mikhail Grabovski to chip him the puck. Ovi had pulled that move on the power play before– going high to low to ditch his coverage, but it’s just as welcome during evens. A strong 32nd goal to start Friday’s scoring.
  • John Erskine (more him later, natch) and Dion Phaneuf got testy with one another four minutes into the second period. Separated by a lineman, Phaneuf and Ersk exchanged gloved fists to the face (Erskine popped the ref once as well). Erskine got pegged with a double minor for roughing, while Dion only sat for the deuce. Big John decking the ref may have been a factor in that one. Don’t pity him. He got his fight later on.
  • Tom Wilson and his bloody knuckles may have just barely, ever-so-slightly got the edge on Carter Ashton, but that was just the undercard to what came next.
  • Colton Orr, heavy, and John Erskine, heavy, unleashed their mutual fury in the second frame. I don’t have a delicate way to put it, so here’s this: John Erskine wrecked Orr. Toronto puts a big premium on toughness, which is dumb for so many reasons, but first among those reasons tonight is that Erskine is the toughest S.O.B. on the planet.
  • Jay McClement played bumper to Nick Backstrom‘s pinball paddle. That was one of the dumbest, great, wtf-iest hockey goals I’ve seen in a while. The standard celebration protocol goes like this: jesus pose, bang the glass, hug a dude. All Brooks Laich could muster was a “Really?!”

really snl

  • Mikhail Grabovski got away with a slash that appeared to hurt Phil Kessel. In the moment I was relieved, but one month from now Kessel is my boy in Sochi. His wrists better be pristine by then or else I’ll be grumpy at Grabo.
  • Who is this Michal Neuvirth person? This was Mikey’s first start since November 22nd. Since then, Braden Holtby got ice cold and Philipp Grubauer heated up and Michal read the entire Wheel of Time series.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

That’s a W, so I’ll take it. I really hoped the Caps would be like, “hey, this is the Leafs. We can beat these guys,” and put a five spot on ‘em. That didn’t happen, and this was actually a pretty tight game, particularly in the first half. I didn’t expect that from two teams with propensities to explode and self-destruct. Toronto’s decline into fiasco seems inevitable and I was just hoping the Caps could pile on before that happens. I guess I’ll settle for the two standings points and a precious regulation win, but I hope the boys don’t play down to their competition again on Sunday.

It was a slobberknocker, and Joel Ward got back on the horse, but that’s probably not how we want the Caps to play every night, right?

Here’s the part where I’d muse about goalie usage and Adam Oates, but I’ll let you guys do that this time. Michal Neuvirth wasn’t exactly under fire in his net, but he certainly did well. Whether that changes his trade value or intention to leave, I have no idea. I’m just glad he’s working again.

Two wins in a row! Have a great Friday, y’all, and we’ll see you back here on Sunday afternoon.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Impressive effort from Neuvy. He really wanted that one and it showed.

  • Priscilla Villanueva

    Maybe I’m into Czechs. I <3 Europe.

  • Freedoooom

    Good one by Neuvy, I don’t think either were his fault.

  • Jack Conness

    Missed the game but go Caps baby! This whole three goalie thing is getting a little crazy though. Anyone think this game was to add some trade value for Neuvy and then deal him? Thoughts?

  • Marky Narc
  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett
  • Marky Narc

    Even if your take away the two fights, the Caps showed some snarl tonight. I’d like to see this team be like that more often.

    Still, RIP Colton Orr.

    Also, moar like Jay McLOLment, amirite?

  • wholovespizza

    I’m so glad we don’t have an awkward goalie situation.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    The stats in this one are all kinds of weird. Grab got owned in puck possession. Jay Beagle owned. Volpatti was 50%+.

    I’m lost

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett
  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    ha

  • Small Sample Size Police

    Stop right there…

  • Chris Cerullo

    I feel like since the Leafs and Caps are both awful possession teams that the stats will always be very strange when we play each other.

  • Matt Root

    Happy with the win. Ovi scores, neuvy shows some sass with his glove, and I don’t have to hear about how indestructible Colton Orr is when it comes to fights. But as much as I love seeing Tom throw down, I’d much rather see him play. I get he’s doing all he can to make an impact in limited time, I just wish he wasn’t on limited time.

  • Unofficial Capital

    Neuvirth was actually on fire. He made many MANY important saves. #Beast #Caps

  • Matt Root

    Hah! I love it

  • Pat mccullough

    They should start him from now on

  • wholovespizza

    So…biggest question….who starts on Sunday? My bet is on Holtby, because Oates is as confused as we are.

  • Matt

    I’m normally happy with 50%, but against the Leafs? Really?

  • Matt Root

    I feel like they have to play him because the management seems pretty intent on keeping Grubi in a Caps sweater. Hard to get value if he’s on the shelf. I think I get too attached to Caps goalies, never wanting them to go despite a logjam.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I don’t think we can let Grubauer cool off to much. However, I still have no idea haha.

  • wholovespizza

    Those fights were huge, in my opinion. They got the crowd into it, and I felt like the play picked up after it. But I do agree in a sense, he’s a much better player than his stats say.

  • Guest

    a well-needed win. these lines are interesting to say the least. also:

  • Owen

    a well-needed win. these lines are interesting to say the least. someone beat me to the hello neuvy picture, damnit

  • Owen

    you beat me to it! haha

  • wholovespizza

    It’s unreal. With the way Nuevy played, why not let him go..haha. Like I’ve said. Good thing it’s not an awkward situation in net here.

  • JH

    Neuvy made some good saves, especially in the second half or so, but there were somg big juicy rebounds that luckily the hapless Leafs couldn’t capitalize upon. I like a regulation win, even against a relatively weak opponent. Ward was awesome.

  • Matt Root

    I’m hoping for Neuvy, honestly. A big perception is Holtby getting the shaft in this 3 goalie fiasco, but this is Michael’s first game since November 22. If he’s the guy to get traded, let him get some work in and compete for another job.. if that is, in fact, what the organization wants to do. Plus, he looked extremely determined and played great, so I don’t see how it would hurt especially against Buffalo

  • Matt Root

    No doubt. Some disagree about fighting and what not, but when the crowd starts buzzing like that I still believe it tilts the ice in favor of the home team. I just wish Tom had his chance to showcase more than that aspect

  • Eddie

    Jonathan Silverman’s still constantly working, but the last thing I definitively remember him being in was exactly 15 years ago in a cable movie called “Freak City.”

  • Myan

    I don’t mean to Holtby-hate but Neuvy stepped in after sitting out for 20 games and played like a badass. If we were in a position like Pens (15 pts clear at the top of the division) we could afford to let Holts play through his psyche-induced slump but as it stands, we have two goalies playing well and one who’s posting save percentages of below 60%. I think Holtby has 1…maybe 2 starts left to prove that he deserves a sweater. To be perfectly honest with you, I can’t remember the last game we won with him in net.

  • rotating-earth

    trade Holtby

  • X

    trade Holtby, Neuvy’s better

  • CAPSnOS

    I am thinking, And i hope no one mentioned this. This start for Neuvirth was to raise his trade value. I bet there were a lot of Novena’s said by GM and AO… Please let him do well so we can make up for all the bad trades we have been making.. PLEASE DEAR DEITY…

    But, seriously, he did stand tall and help win this game for us. not enough stick handling, i just don’t think he has that IT factor… don’t make that one crucial save to win a CRUUUU CIAL game… but hope he does well else where…

    GO CAPS!!!

  • CAPSnOS

    Hopefully, this is a momentum builder for the caps. 2 nights. 2 One goal Games, 2 Regulation wins… Go Caps… have you figured something out with the spreading out the 1st line ? Figure it out on the DEF LOCK DOWN end and i believe we have a team that no one wants to play? Trade MN after tonight’s performance.. KEEP WINNING… GO CAPS!!!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Chris Gordon

    “[T]heir coach chased Mikhail Grabovski out of town for no discernible reason.”

    Good thing we don’t have a coach like that, amirite?

  • http://twitter.com/1bscarbro Benjamin Scarbro

    Wheel of time reference??? I get those!! Yay!!!

  • guest

    you’re insane

  • Kevin F.

    Not a bad showing by the CAPS but we still managed to get passed a desperate Leafs team that played well. Having said that, WTF is Oates doing? Erat may not be scoring right now but he still racks up the assists. When Laich plays he racks up injuries. Erat is better than Laich in my opinion so play Erat and put Laich in Volpatis spot. That would make 3 pretty good lines and one good checking line.

  • Kevin011

    I hope Neuvy doesn’t need the situation that we’re currently in to get enough motivation to give a performance like that.

  • Pat Magee

    Pretty sure against the sharks, we’ll have each goalie play a period.