Somehow, inexplicably, the Caps won on Thursday. It was a manic mess of a game, like something the Flaming Lips would do if they played hockey. In case your blood pressure is returning to normal and bowels are solidifying, here comes another cataclysmic hockey game to freak you out all over again.
Heading into tonight’s game, there was no doubt that the Jets’ season was on the line. With a loss, they would fall six points behind the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot — all but essentially eliminating them from the playoff race. “These are games that define your team,” Evander Kane told The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “And we’re going to see what we’re made of.” Sure are.
Predictably, the Jets came out fired-up and scored first. Andrew Ladd tallied his 24th goal of the season on literally a magical backhander. 22 seconds later, the Capitals responded, as Marcus Johansson perfectly placed a slap-pass onto Brooks Laich’s blade and watched him tip it in past a helpless Ondrej Pavelec.
Late in the second period, the Jets regained the lead as Nik Antropov out-worked Ovechkin to the front of the net to flip one past Vokoun. Mathieu “I’m teeny tiny like a leprechaun” Perrault managed to tie the game again on a third period power play. Unfortunately, Dustin Byfuglien and his big rear were too much to handle. Jets beat Caps, 3-2.
Get your time machines. We’ve got to go tell the Caps from November to play exactly like this right here.
Alex Semin collected a rebound in front of the net and Alex Semin Sniped™ the first goal past Tim Thomas. Matt Hendricks got right into the crease and made it 2-0 within 25 seconds. Milan Lucic went five-hole on Vokoun to get the Bruins back in it. Marchand capitalized on an Orlov giveaway to tie the game. League MVP Jay Beagle finished off a sparkly pass from Semin. Brooks Laich scored on the PP–yes, you read that right, he scored on the PP. Boychuk scored with three minutes to go to make it a little uncomfortable. Caps beat Bruins, 4-3.
Coiner’s goal was so pretty, it deserves a closer look. Let’s set the scene. After going down 2-0 to the Caps within the first five minutes and then 3-0 by the second period, the Leafs were left scrambling to climb out of a hole. The play starts at 5:13, with the Caps in possession of the puck in their own zone.
[Editors note: over the next month, we'll be looking at the challenges the Capitals face, the trade deadline, and the playoff chase. It's not gonna be fun, but we gotta do this.]
When Nick Backstromtook a blow to the head from Rene Bourque on January 3rd, the Capitals lost the service of their number-one center. Backstrom was on track for a better than 80-point season, which would have been a strong recovery from the slump of ’10-’11. Instead, the team lost the anchor for its top line and its most productive forward.
Without Backstrom, the Capitals have only three strong options for centers: Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, Jeff Halpern. Additionally, Mathieu Perreault, Cody Eakin, and Matt Hendricks have done center duty in a pinch. Meanwhile, the Capitals offense has been shut out twice in the last three games and have averaged only 23 shots on goal since mid-December. That’s just not good enough.
Falling down in the same general area as someone is almost the same as hitting. (Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck)
The Caps have not scored a single goal yet in a game that I have recapped. I am placing a phone call to the Capitals organization tomorrow to ask why they hate me personally.
I’m sorry you had to watch that game. I’m sorry I had to watch that game. Here’s how it happened.
Eric Staal stripped a puck from Carlson and sent it to Jussi Jokinen for an easy shorthanded goal. In the second period, Jokinen made it 2-0 on a rebound and officially became our least favorite Cane of the night. Jiri Tlusty scored an absolutely ridiculous falling-down goal that we are all so excited to see on every highlight reel for the next week. Caps lose, 3-0.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Capitals have won six straight at home. During that stretch, they’ve outscored their opponents 19-7 and have never trailed. Their recent dominance in front of their home fans has put the Caps back into contention for *gasp* — not only a playoff spot — but the Southeast Division lead as well. In fact, with a win tonight, the Capitals overtake world-beating Florida.
After a scoreless first period, Brooks Laich Alex Semin started the scoring off in the second period with a high, short-side blast by Cam Ward. 2:46 later, Jussi Jokienen knocked in a pinballing puck on the power play. Dmitry SCOARlov scored his first NHL goal in the third period. And that, my friends, would be the game-winner. Caps beat Canes 2-1.
On December 23, 2011, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Alex Semin interferes with Mattias Tedenby (Photo credit: Andy Marlin)
The last game before the holiday break featured the Washington Capitals in desolation against the New Jersey Devils. The Caps looked desperately weak for most of the game, digging a deep hole. But the third period was an explosion of Caps offense– one of the best comebacks in recent history. Still, the gimmick loomed.
Ilya Kovalchuk struck on a power play in the second period, a dribbling puck between Neuvirth’s pads. Not long later, Alexander Urbom scored on a defenseless net to make it 2-0. Adam Henrique chipped one in from up close to make it dire.
Brooks Laich used some speed and a Wideman pass to get the Caps on the board. Jason Chimera crashed the net and made it a one-goal game. Then Chimera tied it up at the end of a long offensive shift.
Into the shootout, where the Devils came out on top. Devils beat Caps 4-3 (SO), but the Caps take home one well earned standings point.
On November 29, 2011, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Nick Wass
Dale Hunter hoped to lead the Washington Capitals to victory in his first game as head coach. He’d have to go through Jaroslav Halak to get there, but more importantly he’d have to get a flagging Capitals offense moving.
Alex Ovechkin threaded the needle, setting up Nick Backstrom to record the first goal of the game. T.J. Oshie cleaned up a Alex Steen’s slapshot to tie the score at 1-1. Matt D’Agostini caught a lucky bounce and wrapped it around to give St. Louis the lead. Despite a late-game flurry, it ended like that. Blues beat Caps 2-1.
So when the Capitals were whistled for NINE penalties in two periods of play (four in the first, five in the second), it kinda went with the theme of the evening. One of those penalties, a Troy Brouwer hook, led to Edmonton’s game-winning goal. Goodbye, 82-0 season. Haha.
“You have to adjust when you’re out there,” a remarkably calm Bruce Boudreau explained after the game. “You have to know who the ref is. If they’re calling it loose… okay. But if they’re calling every little thing, it’s up to the players to be able to adjust to it. In the rulebook, they’re penalties. Some people call it. Some people don’t. You get to know pretty early if they’re calling it and who’s going to call what.”
Sure, I guess. Well, with the power of photo and video, let’s take a closer look at some of Auger and O’Halloran’s — um, brilliant — work from last night.