Photo credit: Abelimages
Hockey Night in Canada. The Washington Capitals hoped to earn Bruce Boudreau’s 200th NHL win against his old team. Did. Not. Happen.
An embarrassingly bad turnover from Jeff Schultz led to Tim Connolly’s goal. Brooks Laich took a drop pass from Chimera to even it up. Matt Frattin recorded his first NHL goal late in the first period. Early in the second, Tyler Bozak scored a powerplay goal from in traffic. Bozak then gave Phil Kessel a blind pass that became one gorgeous tally. Vokoun out, Neuvirth in. Joffrey Baratheon-Lannister-Lupul scored a PPG to make it 5-1. Then someone did something and it was 6-1. Then, Jeez Louise, David Steckel scored shorthanded. Leafs beats Caps 7-1.
Michal Neuvirth make a save on the bewildered $100 million dollar man (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett).
It’s easy to forget about John Carlson.
The rookie Washington Capitals defenseman logs 20 minutes a night, rarely makes stone-headed blunders and chips in the occasional pressure on transition.
Yet as the Caps nudge ever closer to clinching a fourth straight Southeast Division championship, Carlson’s rock-solid contributions are becoming increasingly harder to ignore.
The New Jersey native had two assists, logged almost 23 minutes of ice time and played nearly flawless hockey in a 3-0 shutout win of the New Jersey Devils. The win tied the Capitals for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia Flyers and made an improbable New Jersey playoff bid seem even more unlikely.
Despite moving into third-place on the all-time Washington Capitals points list for rookies, Carlson was not named one of the three stars of the night. Yet his sharp work while joining the attack led to two goals, and his steadiness in the back helped the brilliant Michal Neuvirth register his fourth shutout and third since February 4.
Braden Holtby celebrates after stoning Lecavalier in the shootout. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
The first sign of trouble came when a wicked shot by Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson struck Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth in the helmet mere seconds into the game.
The helmet snaps broke. His colorful mask fell off and skidded to the boards. Neuvirth doubled over, apparently unable to make the ringing in his head stop. He allowed a soft power play goal and departed after the first period, forcing the Washington Capitals goalie carousel to turn to third-stringer Braden Holtby in a divisional showdown with a hard-hitting playoff atmosphere.
Capitals fans have been trying to figure out which one of Washington’s three baby-faced goalies is the future of the franchise all year long. Holtby tried to stake his claim with a brilliant 21-save effort in a pivotal 2-1 shootout win over the Lightning. The Capitals now lead the Lightning by two points in the Southeast Division.
It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the Jake Hauswirth era is over. Hauswirth was packaged along with Washington’s 3rd round selection in the 2011 draft for defenseman Dennis Wideman. The 3rd round pick is minor, since a player drafted in that round plays an average of 71 NHL games — total for their career — while they amass an eye popping 24 points. But the Caps lost Hauswirth, so a moment of silence.
Now let’s focus on picking up the pieces, and see what goodies George McPhee got Caps fans.
This evening, George McPhee addressed the local media after he made two big acquisitions before the NHL’s Trade Deadline at 3pm. First, in the morning, McPhee acquired puck-moving defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Florida Panthers for fringe prospect Jake Hauswirth and the Capitals’ third round draft pick in 2011. GMGM also landed Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils for David Steckel and the Capitals’s second round pick in 2012. Above, McPhee talks about the newest additions to the Caps’ family and explains how he believes they will help the team.
“Perry, we did it! We actually score on power play!” (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)
After going 1-4 in their last five games — all against Western Conference foes — the Caps headed back to the friendly confines of the east coast on Sunday, hoping to right the ship versus Buffalo. Facing a hungry Sabres team in a nationally televised matchup, Washington was certainly up to the task.
The first period may have been scoreless but it certainly wasn’t uneventful. The Capitals managed 16 shots but Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was fantastic, making big saves throughout the frame. Washington also had four power play chances in the period, including over a minute and a half on the two man advantage. However, the Caps PP continued their struggles, failing to convert as Miller remained strong.
Mathieu Perreault would finally break Miller’s streak in the second stanza. After an odd bounce in the corner, the puck kicked out to the front of the net. Perreault took advantage, putting the Caps up 1-0. However, after Brooks Laich was called for goalie interference, the Sabres would head to the power play. At 8:20 Jason Pominville converted on the man advantage, getting the puck past a screened Semyon Varlamov to knot the score at one.
Midway through the third, former Cap Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for interference, once again putting Washington on the power play. But this time, it actually worked. Alex Ovechkin skated the puck into zone before firing a shot on Miller who made the stop. However, the biscuit went to waiting Perreault. With a little help from Marcus Johansson — whose deflection awarded him the marker — Perreault put the puck in the back of net, giving the Capitals the lead. Buffalo attempted a rally but Varlamov stayed strong. Caps beat Sabres, 2-1.
Photo credit: Tony Avelar
Coming off an insane, 13-goal affair in Orange County late Wednesday night, the Caps headed to Silicon Valley Thursday to take on the Sharks. It’s been nine long days since the Capitals matched up against San Jose in the District and the question was: which team would show up Thursday night? The Capitals that have been anemic offensively as of late and the squad that was bested by S.J. on the 8th? Or would it be the cardiac Caps reminiscent of last season who decided to pop their head up against the Ducks?
Well, it looks like we’re right back where we were before the Anaheim goal-fest.
The first period was rather uneventful. That is for about 19 minutes. After Ben Eager was called for a tripping penalty at 18:40, Washington headed to the power play. But it would be Joe Pavelski of the Sharks who score first on the Caps man-advantage, converting on John Carlson’s turnover with just over a minute left in the frame. Alex Ovechkin, however, would take matters into his own hands. Ovechkin threaded the needle to put the puck past San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi just 22 seconds after Pavelski’s tally, knotting the score at one.
The second period was a somewhat of a snooze-fest. Nether team racked up more than 10 shots in the frame and no penalties were doled out, giving fans little to cheer for. Five minutes into the third period, Ryan Clowe put home Kyle Wellwood’s rebound, giving the Sharks the lead. Dany Heatley would extend San Jose’s advantage midway through the frame when he deflected Danny Boyle’s attempt from the slot. With just under two minutes remaining, Nicklas Backstrom gave Capitals fans some hope when he ripped a wrist-shot over Niemi’s shoulder. However, the rally would stop right there. Sharks beat Caps, 3-2.
Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill
[Ed note: This post is by the Carroll County Times’ Brandon Oland, Ian’s very own flesh and blood. Since he’s accustomed to staying up until 4am, we figured he could fill in for us tonight. Take it away, Brandon.]
Doubts were creeping in. Could the Washington Capitals score enough goals to keep up with Anaheim’s freakishly talented top line? Could the Caps steal a pivotal road win against one of the NHL’s top teams? Could the underperforming Alexander Semin regain his finishing touch?
Yes, yes and yes.
Semin scored three goals, including the game-tying and game-winning tallies to lift the Capitals to a thrilling 7-6 victory in one of the most captivating back-and-forth battles in recent team history. That is, unless you are a fan of defense.
Semin notched his fourth hat trick of the season and seventh of his career. He also finished with a tidy plus four, officially breaking out of the longest goal-scoring slump of his career (17 games) in explosive fashion.
The goals came fast and furious in this defense-purely-optional imitation of the NHL All-Star game. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf got the scoring started with a way-too-easy power play tally set up by a brutal interference penalty on Tyler Sloan. Getzlaf’s goal came with 15:50 to go in the first. Alexander Ovechkin responded six minutes later on a breakaway sparked by a tremendous outlet pass by Nicklas Backstrom. Brooks Laich gave the Caps a brief 2-1 lead with 3:53 left in the first frame, capitalizing on a horrible turnover by Teemu Selanne. After Saku Koivu worked past two waving Capitals defenders, Selanne redeemed himself with a nifty redirect just a few minutes after his lazy pass to tie the contest up. Toni Lydman gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead with 30.7 seconds left in the first, thereby ensuring Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t let Semyon Varlamov see the ice in the second.
The Caps may have had trouble scoring lately, but on Saturday afternoon players were racking up scores by the hundreds. Then again, the game was bowling. Karl Alzner, Matt Bradley, Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, DJ King, Mike Knuble, Jeff Schultz, David Steckel, Brooks Laich–plus their wives, girlfriends, and children–took part in “Bowling with the Caps” at Lucky Strike Lanes in downtown DC. The event was all for charity, raising over $60,000 for the Chris Walsh Cancer Survivorship Fund at Virginia Hospital Center.
It was a great time,” Hendricks said. “It’s a lot of fun to get out there and mingle with the fans for a good cause.”
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
The Washington Capitals finally met their playoff pals, the Montreal Canadiens, for the first time since that awful, awful night. Recently de-Halak‘d, the Habs remain a formidable team and one that the Caps had no trouble getting amped up to face.
Hershey import Jay Beagle got on the big board first with a stunning no-look, behind-the-back, knick-knack, paddywack shot over Carey Price’s shoulder. Mike Green took a freight train into a timing play to make it 2-0 off a Nicky Backstrom pass. The score was unchanged until Price abdicated his throne, which is like chumming the water to a shark like Alex Ovechkin. His empty netter finalized the score. Caps beat Habs 3-0.
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