With the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens locked at two as the clock hit zero in overtime, Matt Hendricks got ready to take the ice for the shootout. The fourth liner, not one of the highly skilled Russians or Nicklas Backstrom in his grand return, was set to shoot first in the most important gimmick of season — that is, if you don’t count the one 48 hours ago. And once again Hendricks made the moves you know by heart: fake, leg lift, deke, deke, wrist shot, score. Eight goals, 12 opportunities, one move.
On March 31, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Neuvy smirks after taking a Rene Bourque slapshot off the mask. (Via @WashCapsRock)
The Washington Capitals’ season is still on shaky ground. Buffalo’s loss to Pittsburgh on Friday kept their hopes alive, but Saturday’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens held huge determinative power. Perfect time for a Comebackstrom.
After having his initial shot blocked, Alex Semin found a wide-open Mathieu Perreault in the slot, for a one-timer. 1-0 Caps. Unguarded in front of the net, Matt Hendricks hit Jay Beagle with a cross-crease pass to put the good guys up 2. Erik Cole then scored a momentum-killing goal with one minute left to go in the first.
In the second period, the Canadiens dominated. Tomas Plekanec tied it up when he went around a slow-skating Roman Hamrlik and scored on the backhand.
After multiple scoring chances for both teams in the third period, the game went to Overtime. Then the shootout. Thanks to goals by Matt Hendricks and Alex Semin, Caps win 3-2.
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.
By now we all know Matt Hendricks has Serious Shootout Skills. But the shootout is a gimmick, a sideshow that decides games for no good reason except to entertain fans. The shootout never really meant much… until tonight.
The Capitals held practice after taking their 2011-12 team picture on Monday. Practice wasn’t too serious though, and Matt Hendricks thought it was the right time to teach Mathieu Perreault the finer points of fighting. Notice how he manhandles Perry and Carlson and uses the a headbutt to finish them off.
Here’s hoping Perry never decides to drop the gloves in an actual NHL game.
With eight games left in the regular season and the Capitals struggling to hold onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, every standings point matters. So when the Caps were unable to break a 1-1 tie with the Flyers after 60 minutes of regulation and a five-minute overtime, the shootout carried high stakes.
Enter Matt Hendricks.
Dale Hunter selected Hendy as the Capitals first shooter. The Blaine, Minnesota native did not disappoint. Hendricks used his patented move, this time baiting Ilya Bryzgalov to pokecheck. Bryz missed, allowing yet another highlight-reel shootout goal for the team’s leader in penalty minutes. Video is below the jump.
In Washington’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, Dale Hunter went with Matt Hendricks in the fourth round of the shootout. That decision paid off. Hendricks, a gritty, fourth-line player who’s known more for his fists than his goal-scoring ability, faked a shot, deked a few times, and then deftly deposited the puck on his backhand into an empty net. No big.
“I don’t like to talk about it too often,” a bashful Hendricks told the media immediately after the game. “I made a move, and fortunately I beat him. [Nabokov's] a good goalie.”
After spending time on all four lines and becoming a regular in the Caps’ shootout line-up, Matt Hendricks was signed to a two-year deal worth $1.65 million last season. Coming into this year’s training camp, Hendricks’ singular focus was to hit double digits in goals. “I had nine my first year in the NHL with Colorado,” he told the Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir. “I played 56 games that year. Last year, I played in 77 games and had nine goals. I need to figure out a way to get over that hump.”
For a player that accumulated 110 points in 43 games during his prep career and was named a finalist for the 2000 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, tallying ten or more goals seems to be well within reason. Unfortunately for Hendy, the red light has come on less frequently this season. In fact, it took 30 games for the 6’0’’, 215-pound winger to score his first goal of the year. And another 15 to get goal number two.
But complaining about Hendricks’ goal output and continuing the negativestorytrain on RMNB is not why we’re here. On Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hendricks — full of determination — opened the game’s scoring with one of the most unlikely and beautiful goals of the season.
On January 22, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Justin K. Aller
Yawn. These Washington Capitals / Pittsburgh Penguins games are always such tedious affairs. Nothing interesting ever happens.
Okay, but for real. This game was a monster. The Capitals looked wounded in the first period, surrendering easy goals early and firing just four shots on net. They came back in the second transformed and reinvigorated. After Mike Knuble crashed the net and just barely missed a goal, the offense turned on. The Capitals regained the shot lead and kept their foot on the gas until the very end.
No one challenged Kris Letang on the power play, so he had a great lane and great screen on the game’s first goal. James Neal flicked one past Neuvirth right after a face off to make it 2-0. The game was six minutes old.
In the second, Dennis Wideman set up Brooks Laich for a crucial goal during 4-on-4. Alex Semin cleaned up Mathieu Perreault’s rebound to tie the game and blow our freaking minds.
In the third, Alex Ovechkin caught a wide pass from Alex Semin and beat Marc-Andre Fleury to open up a lead. James Neal finished off a brilliant zone entry by Evgeni Malkin to knot the score again. That tie took us all the way into overtime, where Malkin casually tipped in the game-winner. Pens beat Caps 4-3 (OT).
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.