Game One Less than Ideal: Bolts beat Caps 4-2

Alex Semin rings iron. (Awesome photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Welp. That just happened.

The Washington Capitals invited the Tampa Bay Lightning for a night of pucks and fun in Chinatown. Starting off the conference semi-finals, the well rested Caps were expected to bulldoze Tampa Bay’s exhausted trap defense and open up some cracks in the Roloson wall. Did not happen.

On the board first was Sean Bergenheim, rewarded for crowding Michal Neuvirth’s crease. Marco Sturm returned fire by forcing a turnover that Alex Semin mightily wristed past Dwayne Roloson’s defenses. Jason Chimera fought below the goal line to set up Eric Fehr for the go-ahead, but that’s when the wheels came off. After a soft turnover, Steve Downie had a little help in his tying goal thanks to Scott Hannan’s stick. On a late second period powerplay, Steven Stamkos, given way too much space in the paint by John Erskine, had enough time to force one past Neuvy. And with the net cleared out, Dominic Moore sacrificed his body to settle the matter. Bolts beat Caps 4-2. Dammit.

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The Face of the Enemy Revealed: Tampa Bay Lightning

Get ready for 4+ games of Steve Downie, Steven Stamkos, and Dwayne Roloson – the man who shut us out twice during the regular season and is approximately 4,000 years old. How are you feeling, Caps fans? Can we take them? What’s your prediction?

Big-Game Braden Leads Caps Over Lightning, 2-1 (SO)

Braden Holtby celebrates the shootout win

Braden Holtby celebrates after stoning Lecavalier in the shootout. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game's decisive goal. (Photo credit: Mike Carlson)

Alex Ovechkin celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game's decisive goal. (Photo credit: Mike Carlson)

The first sign of trouble came when a wicked shot by Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson struck Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth in the helmet mere seconds into the game.

The helmet snaps broke. His colorful mask fell off and skidded to the boards. Neuvirth doubled over, apparently unable to make the ringing in his head stop. He allowed a soft power play goal and departed after the first period, forcing the Washington Capitals goalie carousel to turn to third-stringer Braden Holtby in a divisional showdown with a hard-hitting playoff atmosphere.

Capitals fans have been trying to figure out which one of Washington’s three baby-faced goalies is the future of the franchise all year long. Holtby tried to stake his claim with a brilliant 21-save effort in a pivotal 2-1 shootout win over the Lightning. The Capitals now lead the Lightning by two points in the Southeast Division.

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Here’s Braden Holtby’s submission to the NHL for save of the year. Clearly, he’s learned from the best!

Can The Capitals Win The Southeast Division?

Alex Ovechkin celebrates

Photo credit: Don Heupel

The Washington Capitals are in second place in the Southeast Division, only one point behind the leading Tampa Bay Lightning with 21 games remaining this season. Can the Caps catch them?

As usual, we will ask the Monte Carlo Machine to simulate the rest of the season. To determine the chance of winning any individual game we will use the Log5 method. Log5 is a method of estimating the winning percentage when two teams play each other. The formula is:

W%(A v. B) = W%(A)*(1 – W%(B))/(W%(A)*(1 – W%(B)) + (1 – W%(A))*W%(B))

Since we know what the win percentage is for both Washington and Tampa Bay, and their remaining schedule, we can pop these results in, run the Machine 10,000 times and see how often the Caps come out ahead of the Lightning in the division.

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Like Old Times: Caps beat Bolts 5-2

Ovechkin

SCOAR! (Photo credit: Chris O’Meara)

There was a zeitgeist surrounding the Washington Capitals’ visit to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playground. The words we kept hearing were “must win,” which is great motivator even if it’s not objectively true. Still, the Caps seemed to take it to heart, bringing an effort to the game that reminds us– above all else–  of the ’09-’10 version of the team. Not bad.

Red-hot Teddy Purcell scored on Tampa Bay’s first shot of the night, a 40-foot slapper to Varlamov’s weak side. On a 4v4 sequence that we’ll discuss later, Nicky Backstrom used some stick-to-it-iveness to even the score from the crease. Brooks Laich (!) piled on with a wizardly backhand top-shelfer set up by Mathieu Perreault. Alex Ovechkin put the visitors up 3-1 with his long-delayed return to the PPG stat column. Tampa’s Brett Clark kept the second period busy with a retaliatory powerplay tally. The third period found Nick Backstrom cleaning up an Ovechkin crash for his second of the night, and Jason Chimera  recording an empty-netter. Caps beat Bolts 5-2. Wings, MFers.

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FOR FRAK SAKE: Bolts beat Caps 3-0

liedownshultz

Just lie down, Schultzy. It’ll all be over soon. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)

In Paddy Chayesfsky’s Network, seasoned newsman Howard Beale has a nervous breakdown on live television. At the height of frustration, he compels his viewers to open up their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Don’t know why that popped into my head just now.

The Washington Capitals’ appointment with the Tampa Bay Lightning was supposed to be an impassioned affair: two tied Southeast teams battling for the division lead. That did not happen. The Caps, perhaps reeling from last night’s overtime loss to the Panthers, never really suited up. The ever-improving Lightning took control of the game and never relented.

Dominic Moore waited for the power play to end before scoring, exploiting some lazy defensive work by Washington. Sean Bergenheim followed up with a home-run swing at one of Semyon Varlamov’s flying rebounds. And then Simon Gagne grabbed a loose puck and beat the overwhelmed Varly on the breakaway. The Caps didn’t even try. Bolts beat Caps 3-0.

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Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT), Goalies’ Stats Say Thanks

hendricks versus downie

Matt Hendricks beats up Steve Downie blindfolded. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

The Washington Capitals hoped the Winter Classic buzz wouldn’t interfere with their hometown appointment with Southeast rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. With both teams sitting atop the division, the stakes were high, even if the game lacked the theatrics of Saturday’s Hustle at Heinz.

Unfortunately, the Caps couldn’t set off any offensive fireworks. After a sleepy first period, the red team started mounting a real effort, but they never beat 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, just acquired from the Islanders. In overtime, it was another vet, Martin St. Louis, who finally put a puck past Semyon Varlamov, a tasty rebound off Vincent Lacavalier. At least we got one standings point. Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT).

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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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Ovie’s Back! Caps Beat Bolts 3-1!

Alex Ovechkin Scores on a Breakaway, Beats Antero Niittymaki

Alex Ovechkin's gonna eat yo face! (Photos by Mike Carlson)

Alex Ovechkin's gonna eat yo face! (Photos by Mike Carlson)

Some of the Caps’ best games this season have been against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and tonight was no exception. Marking Captain Alexander Ovechkin‘s return after suspension, tonight’s bout with the Bolts gave us hits, goals, fights, and — for once– a team that looked truly solid.

Goals from Tomas Fleischmann, the Russian Machine himself, and Alex Semin lifted the Caps above the Tampa Bay team, but the glory of the win must belong to the most excellent Jose Theodore. Stopping all but one of the 34 shots aimed at his net, Jose made tonight’s 3-1 victory possible.

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