Nicky celebrates his hat trick. (Photo credit: KHL.ru)
Fresh off their week-long break for national team competition, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstsrom, and the rest of Dynamo Moscow crew returned to action Wednesday against infamous Vityaz Chekhov. It was worth the wait. Backstrom, who finally switched his number during the Karjala Cup break, went APE NUTS in his new 69 jersey, registering his first career KHL hat trick and scoring the game’s decisive goal – an overtime game-winner.
While Backstrom was dominant, registering six shots during 22:04 of ice time, his BFF Ovi was no slouch either, assisting on one of Nicky’s goals and firing nine shots on net in 27:05 of game action.
Now let’s see these goals.
On Monday, we detailed how Dynamo Moscow, Alex Ovechkin‘s former Russian Super League team, was not terribly interested in bringing back one of their most famous sons if a NHL lockout forced a cancellation of all or part of its 2012-13 season. Dynamo’s president Arkady Rotenberg told R-Sport, “If we really need [Ovi], maybe we will offer the money. But I don’t think we need him.”
Videoclip via the Hershey Bears YouTube page
It was a milestone night in Hershey on Saturday. Keith Aucoin registered his 700th career AHL point, Brian Willsie scored his career-high 30th goal of the season and Dmitry Orlov tallied his first career goal at Giant Center. The Bears went on to defeat the Albany Devils 7-4 in front of a sold-out crowd. With the win, Hershey clinched a playoff spot and earned the right to defend their back-to-back Calder Cup Championships.
The most fascinating part of the evening, however, was the line-brawl that was ignited after Brian Willsie scored against the Devils’ fourth line. As the five Bears on the ice went to congratulate each other, Albany tough-guy Chris Murray gave Mathieu Perreault a shove. The feisty, 174 lb. Perreault responded with a flurry of punches and Hershey’s entire line engaged Murray. Pierre-Luc Leblond — yes, the same guy who was suspended earlier in the year for jumping Marcus Johansson — then came to his teammate’s aid, charging towards the pile of Bears as if he were a bowling ball looking for a strike. Mayhem ensued thereafter, as everyone on the ice squared off except for the goalies.
All in all, 34 penalty minutes were doled-out between the two teams, including 14 PIM’s to Leblond and 12 PIM’s to Louis Robitaille. The Bears swept the contentious and brutal season series with Albany, 6-0-0. Below the jump, Sweetest Hockey On Earth‘s Kyle M. has shared his photos of the brawl.
Bad stick penalties, better goals. Vintage Sasha. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The upshot: The Caps squeak by an uneven bout with the trouble Toronto team to win in the shootout. But man, there’s a lot more than that. The Red Army has yet to play solid games back to back. The defensive end had lots of trouble, especially in the third, but the oh-fense was spectacular. The first period was sleepy, the second period electric, the third period a near disaster.
If that last paragraph reads disjointed, it’s only because the game was too (that and I’m not using conjunctions).
For the nth game this season, the Capitals were polite enough to let the other team score first. Nikolai Kulemin takes the puck, gets John Erskine to dive, and lures Michal Neuvirth a bit wide before shooting. MG52 answered with a PPG (now that’s what we’ve been missing!). Jason Chimera showed determination in the slot, accepting a deft pass from Boyd Gordon in the corner and then repeatedly swatting the puck until it snuck under Jonas Gustavsson‘s loins for the go-ahead. Either John Carlson (slapper) or Tomas Fleischmann (tip-in) scored the third goal, and the jury may be out on that one for a long time.
The third period was a bloodbath, filled with a troika of Leafs goals from Kaberle, Versteeg, and Bovak. Toronto claimed the lead, and it seemed the Caps were headed for a loss. And then Alex Semin, whom Boudreau almost scratched due to illness, converted an unlikely power play chance. Overtime came and went. The shootout found Ovechkin and Semin scoring wizardly goals and Michal Neuvirth stopping two attempts. Even though the Canadian bastards escaped with a point, at least we can say Caps beat Leafs 5-4 (Shootout).
The Capitals are undefeated in games in which Boyd Gordon plays. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
Another week has passed, and we saw Alex Ovechkin get his first power play goals, Perreault make a case to be sent back down to Hershey, and the duo of Erskine and Sloan have such a good game that NHL.com decided it would rather shut down its whole server than to acknowledge it.
With 13% of the season in the books, here is my weekly recap of the Caps scoring chances.
DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (All photos by Jeff McIntosh)
Halloween. This is the time of year when the eerie and unlikely are commonplace. This is the season of mists, of despair, of loss.
Nah, forget that. The Caps struggled mightily in the first period with the Calgary Flames. Going down by two goals early on, the Caps looked vanquished. A pathetic power play only hurt our wavering confidence. Maybe we should turn the game off and hit up that costume party after all? Nyet. Nicky Backstrom turned the Caps second power play into a goal reminiscent of ’09-’10’s best, and then the second period happened.
Let’s not mince words. The second period of this game was a bulldozer. The Caps scored six goals, two pairs of those goals coming within 13 seconds of each other. I’d tell you who scored the goals, but it’d take too long. Trust me: it’s everyone you’d expect. And also Dave Steckel. The Flames never came back after those early volleys. Caps beat Flames 7-2.
Brooks Laich celebrates his OTGWG. (Photo Credit: Joe Howell)
With Tom Poti and Mike Green out due to injury, we all knew that the Caps’ defense was going to be a little bit suspect tonight. But really, the main issue for the visiting team ended up being their collective effort. Case in point was the opening face-off where Tomas Fleischmann lost the draw cleanly to Cal O’Reilly. He then turned and watched helplessly as Steve Sullivan raced past his four other unprepared teammates and went in alone on Michal Neuvirth.
But for Neuvy, it was no big deal. He stone-walled Sullivan 8 seconds in. He stone-walled five Predator powerplays, including 29 seconds of a 5 on 3. And he made 37 saves in total to collect his fourth straight win.
Thanks to ten minutes of actual hard-work in the third period and two minutes of pure domination in the extra session, the Capitals leave Bridgestone Area with a huge 3-2 character victory.
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