The Montreal Canadiens have done what a dozen teams could not do: end the Washington Capitals record-shattering win streak. The game felt like a trap from the opening minute when Scott Gomez triangulated a goal on Michal Neuvirth. It was the second period, however, when everything went pear-shaped. In that period the Caps had only one goal (by Nick Backstrom) to answer a whopping four from Montreal.
Entering the final frame, the Capitals faced a 3-goal deficit. Mike Green erased one of those marks in the first minutes, followed by Brooks Laich nine minutes later. After relying on back-up goalie Jose Theodore to defuse the surging Montreal offense, the Caps waited until the final minute of play to even it up. Employing a gentle deflection, Brooks Laich evened the game up, earned his first hat trick, and secured a guarantee of at least one point.
But then Tomas Plekanec proved to be one man too many for the overwhelmed Caps defense. Before we even had a moment to process it, the streak had ended. Habs beat Caps 6-5. Wah wah wah.
Now’s the part where we blame people:
If I told you that tonight’s game hinged on Brendan Morrison (no goals since 12/23) and Brooks Laich (no goals since 12/28) scoring, you probably wouldn’t have been optimistic. If I told you that of five back-to-back game pairs, the Caps lost the second game four out of five times, would you have a good outlook for tonight? Well, forget you, dude. The Washington Capitals proved their depth of talent and character in a stunning come-from-behind shootout win over the Florida Panthers.
It could have gone very differently. After last night’s– let’s just call it a hosedown– the Caps could have lost their momentum and zombie-shambled through the rest of their trip down south. One could argue that Tuesday showed the Caps’ self-detonating: losing their composure and revealing their myriad flaws. I think instead they showed grit and character in that loss. The Caps left Tampa last night with some scrap of dignity and, bouyed by Matt Bradley, a renewed sense of teamwork. That spirit was paramount in Sunrise.
The first period opened like we all feared it might. The Panthers led 2-0, and the Caps’ offense was absent. Michal Neuvirth’s puck-stopping came up short. Stop me if you heard this one before. It seemed like Florida would be able to coast to an easy win over thebestteamevertoplaythesportofhockey. But no. Not tonight. Not under the new reign of Captain Alexander Ovechkin and his merry men. The boys mounted an epic and late-brewing comeback, earning a teeth-clenching shootout finish. On the back of Tomas Fleischman, the Caps fought for this win.
If you can’t tell already, this game is the bizarro version of last night’s game. Let’s break it down.
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