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.
Jason Chimera’s bank shot off Bryan Elliott merits celebration. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
The Washington Capitals came back to earn a crucial win over the Ottawa Senators on a sleepy Sunday afternoon. The worst first period team in hockey, the Caps did nothing to shake off that label today. But a late-game effort kicked off by the team’s morale leader woke them up to snatch two much-needed standings points.
Only 72 seconds into the bout, Mike Fisher scored Ottawa’s only goal while Jeff Schultz wandered aimlessly behind the net. Forty six minutes later, forechecking Brooks Laich snatched a turnover from the slot, tying the game and rousing his team in the process. Forty five seconds later and just two ticks into a power play, John Carlson bombed Bryan Elliott for the go-ahead goal. And then Jason Chimera banked one off the goalie’s back for some insurance. Caps beat Sens 3-1.
After a miserable eight-game losing streak, the Caps are finally starting to see some puck bounces go their way and are 5-0-1 in their last six. Good times ahead? We’ll see, but this is sure better than losing.
The scoring chances showed us this was just a matter of time. Remember, I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.
At even strength, the Caps put the scoring chances in their favor throughout the season, but when they failed to get the puck bounces to go their way it was a tough stretch of eight games. Once the bad luck started to even out, bringing their conversion percentage back to their season average, the Caps were able to right the ship:
Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck
The yuletide has receded, and the Washington Capitals have gotten back to work. Meeting the Carolina Hurricanes in snow-covered Raleigh, the Caps were out to test their mettle following that shootout loss to Pittsburgh on the 23rd.
Mathieu Perreault crashed the net in the first period, turning a sublime, unguarded puck from Alex Semin into the night’s first goal. In the second, Jussi Jokinen exploited a bad Caps line change to sneak one past Semyon Varlamov. Minutes later, Alex Ovechkin stormed through neutral ice and set up David Steckel to make the score 2-1. In the late second period, a bounce went finally went the right way for Ovi, who submitted the Caps third and final goal. The Canes attempted a comeback led by Jay Harrison/Tuomo Ruutu’s goal, but couldn’t get all the way. Caps beat Canes 3-2.
We swear the puck went in.
There was certainly a special buzz in the air today. With most schools shutdown and most work-places deserted for the upcoming Christmas holiday, Caps fans traveled in droves to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to cheer on their hometown team during their pre-game skate. Why? Because the Pittsburgh Penguins were in town.
The energy the Caps felt in the morning certainly translated to the game as one minute in, Alex Ovechkin laid out frenemy, Evgeny Malkin, with one of his biggest hits of the season. The crowd went wild. The Penguins lost their composure. And seconds later, as Evgeny Malkin looked for retribution, he took a two minute interference call. The Capitals get a powerplay!
Unfortunately for our heroes, there was too much standing around, and there wasn’t enough crashing of the net in their ensuing man advantage. The Penguins savvily killed off the powerplay and seized back momentum immediately on a beautiful deflection goal by Sidney Crosby at 3:21.
Thirty-one game minutes later, the Capitals tied it up at the tail end of a 5-on-3 powerplay. Mike Green, who had pinched-in to the top of the face-off circle, riffled a slapshot to the top corner of the net. The game stayed tied 1-1, until the beginning of the third, when Sidney Crosby challenged three Capitals players, flicked the puck towards the net, and found Chris Kunitz who backhanded a shot home.
Things looked dicey until team leader Mike Knuble converted on a crazy 2-on-1 goal while the Caps were shorthanded. The two teams then went to Overtime. Despite what looked to be another goal by Mike Green, the extra five minutes of 4-on-4 hockey could not decide a victor. After an exciting shootout, Pascal Dupuis scored at the bottom of the 7th round. Pens beat Caps 3-2 (SO).
Matt Bradley is about to bleed. (Photo credit: Michael Dwyer)
The Washington Capitals mounted one of their largest offensive pushes ever to try and stop the Boston Bruins from extending their losing streak to eight. Nope.
The Bruins scored the first three goals of the night all in the first period: a screened shot by Patrice Bergeron, a deflection off Scott Hannan by Andrew Ference (his first in 99 games), and a five-holer by Blake Wheeler. Matt Bradley responded early in the second with a dangle-and-wrist from a tight angle. Karl Alzner turned on hero mode, slapping one in off Tim Thomas’ shoulder to keep the Caps within striking distance. Despite a furious effort in the waning moments, the Bruins felled the Caps 3-2.
Photo credit: Greg Fiume
No jokes. Nothing cute. The Washington Capitals, deep into a slump, host the Anaheim adjective-less Ducks in a regular season game with a lot of additional gravity. Our hopes are high, our loins girded, our hearts full.
Brooks Laich first marked up the board with a chip-in off of John Carlson during a first period powerplay. In the second, the oddly vowelled Joffrey Lupul put a bounce in the net– also while on powerplay. And it stayed that way until overtime, when Ryan Getzlaf escaped John Carlson’s coverage to wrist the game winner past Semyon Varlamov. Ducks beat Caps 2-1 (OT).
No goal. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
UPDATE 12/11 11:50PM: Dmitry Chesnokov heard that Alex Semin will not be suspended.
Let’s get the hell out of town. The Washington Capitals have lost five games in a row, four of them at home base. The Colorado Avalanche brought their fast-paced offense to town as Washington tried to re-awake theirs. Despite showing more effort than in recent games, the Caps failed to stop, drop, shut em’ down, open up shop.
Kevin Shattenkirk got lucky with an early goal that Michal Neuvirth should have stopped. Mike Knuble responded with his 250th career goal, a typical Knuble score from inches out. Tom Poi was woefully out of position, allowing Ryan Wilson to waltz in and score the go-ahead goal. Piling on was Paul Stasny, who converted on the powerplay. Matt Hendricks launched a comeback with a no-looker from the crease, but the home team ran out of time. Avs beat Caps 3-2.
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.
Mike Ribeiro punishes the Caps for one of their many penalties. (Photo credit: Tony Gutierrez)
The Washington Capitals have just played their second game in as many days. Facing the surging, workman-like Dallas Stars, the Caps debuted their newly acquired defender Scott Hannan. But the Stars saw the Caps coming.
Mike Ribeiro connected on the fourth of five Dallas powerplays. The Caps did not respond until the third period, when Mike Knuble one-timed the puck from the weak side off a great pass from Mike Green. Only twenty seconds later, Brandon Segal undid Knuble’s work and reset the Stars’ lead. In the final ten seconds, John Carlson scored the GTG goal only to be waved off for interference against a crease-crowding Alex Ovechkin. Well done, officials. You have bested our Caps again. Stars beat Caps 2-1.
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