On February 9, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Joel Ward screens Ondrej Pavelec (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals summoned the Winnipeg Jets to end their residency at Verizon Center. It was supposed to be a pitched battle for alphabetical inferiority, another explosive game that Dale Hunter would compare to the playoffs. Instead we got a flurry of neutral-zone skirmishes and perfect moments by both goaltenders for 50 minutes and sheer insanity for 10.
The game’s first period was sleepy and scoreless, the second the same. But 10 minutes into the third, Alex Ovechkin sent a puck acutely netward during 5-on-4 play. Ovechkin hooked up Semin for another PP tally a few minutes later. Somebody on the other team scored, and we didn’t care. Then Dustin Byfuglien got a weird bounce to knot the game 12 seconds later. Overtime came and went. Jets beat Caps 3-2 (Shootout)
The Pre Game: I’m going to let you in on a secret. We people of the prairie have known it for decades, but as a group we tend to be Scandinavian, and so tight-lipped. We only pass it down– whispered– when there’s no other choice; as on those nights the wind shakes the windows and hope seems to extinguish in the pit of a cold, dead emptiness. And here it is: there is no darker, stranger place on this Earth than Winnipeg. It’s Canada’s sooty heart of darkness… and now, thanks to the NHL, we have to spend a night there.
You can spend a lifetime overnight in Winnipeg.
The Puck Drop
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s Canada! How scary can that be?” Here’s how creepy: David Lynch won’t even go there. That’s how creepy Winnipeg is. Built at the base of a floodplain that sinks in summer and concentrates the winds into an arctic vortex each winter, Winnipeg is a place that sensible cultures would just abandon. Admit their mistake, move on, and leave it to future anthropologists to try and make sense of the debris: curling, BTO, and Guy Maddin.
Sure, some have escaped. Cody Eakin and Eric the Fehr among the more adorables. But let me ask you this: do you know anyone who’s been to Winnipeg? Didn’t they come back…changed?
On December 4, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Burmistrov’s devastating chip shot eludes Varlamov. (Photo by Luis M. Alvarez)
It’s not like the Washington Capitals have a hard time getting pumped up for a intra-division game. Facing the Atlanta Thrashers at home tonight, the Caps put a season-high 46 pucks on net (with another 20 attempted). But Ondrej Pavelec stood like a giant in the Atlanta net, turning away all but one of those pucks. At least it wasn’t a shutout.
Rich Peverly deflected a monster shot from Byfuglien to create the first goal of the night. Penalty engine Alex Burmistrov recorded the second goal, a brilliant chip shot from no angle. At the end of a long shift in Atlanta territory, Alex Ovechkin ended his nine-game goal drought with a one-timer assisted by the other Alex. After David Steckel took a controversial kneeing penalty, Andrew Ladd took only eight seconds to score the game’s final goal. Bummer. Thrashers beat Caps 3-1.
On November 14, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
“Can you believe we won this???” (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
Boulton and Erskine beat the tar out of one another. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
This third meeting of the Washington Capitals and Atlanta Thrashers was not overshadowed by injury like the season-opener was by Ondrej Pavelec‘s collapse. Instead, we were treated to a cavalcade of slapstick puckery. The puck had a mind of its own tonight, and the game’s three goalies were none too happy about it.
Alex Ovechkin opened it up early with a lucky bounce knocked in by goalie Chris Mason. Mason had already bobbled an earlier shot; this one he knocked in all by himself. Mike Green piled on with a mustache-fueled power play goal hooked up by Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble. Atlanta’s Rich Peverly turned in what was either a world-class goal or a total fluke (we vote the latter). Tyler Sloan dove in front of a shot to lead to a turnover and breakaway for Alex Ovechkin. Ovie’s pass enabled Alex Semin to score a dazzling deke-and-goal that should humble the authors of the All-Star game ballot.
Like an out-of-control garbage truck full of terminally ill kittens, the second period brought destruction and woe to all in its path (i.e. the Capitals). Andrew Ladd scored one and Bryan Little scored two, the last of which was a shorthanded breakaway furnished by the careless puck control of our very own Russian Machine.
The third period languished on for 13 minutes before John Erskine– yes, that John Erskine– rocketed the game winner past relief goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Then David Steckel found the empty net as Capitals players are so eager to do.
Phew, that was exhausting. Caps beat Thrashers 6-4.
On October 8, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Just one of those nights. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Important stuff first: Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec collapsed during a stoppage of play early in the first period. Medical staff rushed to the ice, as Pavelec remained motionless for ten minutes. He was then taken to the hospital where he later regained consciousness. Panic, dread, and confusion filled Phillips Arena during the extended delay, but the stalwart audio crew in Atlanta made sure to drown it out with crass jock rock in the interim. We wish all the best to Pavelec.
The Caps opened this season much like they closed the last one: messily. Through sixty minutes of scrambling, bad turnovers, and awkward attacks, the Capitals stumbled through tonight’s game with the Thrashers like a baby elephant learning to walk. The Caps put 31 shots against Chris Mason and another 28 into various Thrasher players willing to block them. While only Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble were each able to defeat the Atlanta defense once, the opponents found ways to score at every turn. Thanks to a penalty-shot goal from Johnny Oduya, a laser from Andrew Ladd, and a twofer from Evander Kane, the Atlanta Thrashers felled the Caps in the opening bout. Thrashers beat Caps 4-2.