When Dale Hunter was first hired as Caps head coach, old-time fans of the team assumed #32 would bring his fiery nature behind the bench. Instead, Hunter has been cool, calm, and collected, rarely losing his composure or seeming visibly upset.
While Braden Holtby and Joel Ward will be receiving all the attention after last night’s Game Seven victory, it was Karl Alzner who may have made the most clutch play of the game.
Thirty-five seconds into overtime, an energetic Bruins team camped out in the Capitals offensive zone and looked to end the game early on their first shift. As Dennis Seidenberg blasted a shot from the point, Braden Holtby stopped the puck with his right pad. However, a rebound squirted loose and landed right onto Patrice Bergeron‘s stick.
That’s when Alzner — a two-time WJC gold medal winner with Team Canada (and its captain) — cooly and calmly dove to the ice and got a piece of Bergeron’s shot with his stick. Video is below.
Joel Ward was a playoff hero for Nashville last year, leading the league in postseason goals at one point in the first round and ending with better than a point per game.
That grit and clutch goal-scoring was why General Manager George McPhee outbid a number of other teams to sign Ward in the summer to an expensive 4-year, $12 million contract.
In the regular season, however, things didn’t go as planned. Ward was benched one game for missing a meeting, scratched several games for poor play, and managed to tally just six goals. It was the worst offensive season of his career– though he spent most of it assigned as a fourth liner.
But Joel Ward’s play in the regular season isn’t what got him glory in Nashville. And it’s not what just put him in Capitals’ record books forever.
Jason Chimera dropped the puck to John Carlson, who fired a shot that Matt Hendricks tipped in. Tyler Seguin dove to knock in a loose puck behind Braden Holtby to tie the game heading into the third period. The game went into overtime.
And then it happened. You knew it would. Mike Knuble crashed the net and Joel Ward swept in the rebound. Caps beat Bruins 2-1 (OT).
Before the series started, the Bruins talked a tough game about getting in Braden Holtby‘s face and making life difficult for him. Like many players before them, they soon learned that was easier said than done. With the score tied at 1-1 at the end of a tense second period, Rich Peverley got a little too close to Holtby and Holtby let him know by shoving him off his skates. Peverely retaliated — or at least, pretended to, taking a two-handed slash at Holtby that he stopped just short, clearly trying to spook or scare him.
The Washington Capitals are 2-7 all-time in Game Sevens. They’re 0-1 all-time in Game Sevens on the road, 1-2 all-time in Game Seven OT, and none of that matters at all, because all we need them to be is 1-0 in Game Sevens on April 25, 2012, versus the Boston Bruins.
Kanoobs celebrates his Game 5 goal. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
After being scratched for the first three games of the Caps’ first round series against Boston, 39-year-old Mike Knuble was inserted into the lineup for Game Four and hasn’t been taken out since. The fan-favorite right wing even scored in the third period of Game Five to help the Capitals take a 3-2 lead in the series. Knuble has always been reliable for the Caps in the postseason — he’s scored 5 goals in 16 career playoff games for the Capitals and has 28 points in 57 career playoff games. The 16-year NHL veteran has also won a Stanley Cup and played in three Game Sevens, which is something not many players on the Caps roster can say.
So what should we expect to see in the deciding game on Wednesday? In an interview with DC101’s Elliot in the Morning, Knuble talks about Braden Holtby, tuning out the Bruins’ trash-talk, and Ovechkin’s limited ice time in Game Three.
Three times in Game Six did the Boston Bruins gain a lead over the Washington Capitals. And three times did the Caps tie it up. But the Caps just couldn’t finish off Boston.
Rich Peverley was credited for deflecting Bergeron’s blue-line bomb past Holtby. Mike Green got that back with a slapshot from way out, bouncing off Greg Zanon’s lower body in traffic. David Krecji used his speed to convert a power play and restore the Bruins’ lead. Jason Chimera evened it up by finishing off a great setup from Nick Backstrom at the end of the second period. Tyler Seguin’s rebound made easy feeding for Andrew Ference, giving the Bruins their third lead of the day. Alex Ovechkin canceled that out with a laser-quick shot off the faceoff with just five minutes remaining.
Into overtime, which Boston dominated until Tyler Seguin got the game winner. Bruins beat Caps 4-3 (OT). We’re going to Game Seven in Boston.
With 42 seconds left in the second period, the Capitals tied Game Six up with a bizarre play that resulted in both Brad Marchand getting bloodied and Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara being faked out of his jock. Let’s review, shall we?