Semin Snatches the Hat: Caps beat Bolts 6-3

Alex Semin recorded his second hat trick of the year against the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning.

Puck commemorating Steve Kolbe's 1000th game as the radio voice of the Capitals

Puck commemorating Steve Kolbe's 1000th game as the radio voice of the Capitals. (Photo credit: Wes Johnson)

Alex Semin’s raspberry of hatful determination. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

You know that video game where you fight Dr. Wily, and you think you’ve got him beat, but then he gets some kind of high-tech armor with lasers and rockets and WiFi and megagigabytes. Turns out Wily is way harder when he’s all upgraded. Well, here comes the Tampa Bay Cyber-Lightning, Mark II. Our southeast conference rivals gave the Washington Capitals a hard time last year, and they only got better over the summer.

For naught.

The Capitals, led by curio Alex Semin, had a slow start. As if predestined, they surrendered the first goal of the night to Tampa’s Teddy Purcell. Tom Poti and Mike Knuble each notched goals in the second. The third period found Ryan Malone tying the game on the power play, almost taunting the Capitals to step it up. And step it up they did. Alex Semin recorded back-to-back goals with matching assists from line partners Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Steven Stamkos returned fire with a frighteningly smart goal, but Ovechkin would strike soon after. An empty net goal in the final half minute earned Semin the hat trick and finalized the question. A crushing win by the home team, their sixth in a row: Caps beat Bolts 6-3.

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Alex Semin (3 goals) celebrates with Mathieu Perreault (two assists) after his 5th career hat trick.

Ovechkin (9 hits) may not have scored, but the Trashers certainly felt his presence. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

Ovechkin (9 hits) may not have scored, but the Trashers certainly felt his presence. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

The hat-tricker and the catalyst celebrate their line’s third goal of the night. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

As the Capitals entered tonight’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Semyon Varlamov could not make his scheduled start due to a flame-up of his #brittlegroin. Caps regulars Boyd Gordon (rest) and Marcus Johansson (hip flexor) could not dress due to nagging pains. And Tom Poti was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury.

The Caps, who had just lost two straight games to the Boston Bruins rather unimpressively, were forced to go with a patch-work lineup which included minor league call-ups Mathieu Perreault, Jay Beagle, & Dany Sabourin as well as a not-at-full-strength Mike Green.

When the puck dropped and the first period came to a close, the Capitals resembled the same struggling team that had lost Tuesday and Thursday. They were down 1-0 and the Thrashers outshot them 13-4..

Things quickly got rectified in the Caps lockerroom, however. “Kanoobs had a little speech,” Michal Neuvirth explained post-game. “[After his talk] we were getting better every minute. …We dominated in the third period. He just wasn’t happy with our effort. …We’re getting outshot on home ice. It just can’t happen.”

The Capitals then came out and outshot Atlanta 40 to 14 the rest of the game. Riding an Alex Semin natural hat trick, two assists from fan-favorite Mathieu Perreault, and a clutch backhand gwg from Flash, the Caps trash the Thrash in OT, 4-3.

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Ovechkin celebrates during Nick Backstrom's hat trick effort in playoff win over Montreal Canadiens

[Ed. note – Our apologies, but tonight’s game mandates celebration.  We’re going to cut the recap short so that we can celebrate!]

Nick Backstrom scores his first playoff hat trick!

Nicky Backstrom secures his first playoff hat trick

Nearing the end of the second period, the Washington Capitals trailed the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.  But there was still the tiny matter of Nicklas Lars Bäckström.   The blonde swede superstar (who is still waiting on that new contract) made this a historic game all by his damn self.   Sinking his first playoff hat trick, Backy is definitely worthy of the “Nine Million Dollar Man” nom de guerre that Craig Laughlin bestowed upon him.  We’ll be talking about slapshot goal 31 seconds into overtime for months.

Captain America John Carlson scored the tying goal at the tail end of the third period, instantly carving his name into franchise history.  The 20-year old is frankly phenomenal, playing with more consistency than Norris slam-dunk Mike Green.

Also, Alex Ovechkin finally got on the board, tipping in a shot from… JOHN CARLSON.

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