The Washington Capitals are running out of time to earn a playoff berth. Berth is a weird word. It just means anchor, but it sounds a lot more… obstetrical. Like once you clench a berth, you are supposed to take a hot shower and replace electrolytes.
Stuff is looking dire for the Caps, but here’s a spot of good news: they get to play the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday! With a 22-26-11 record, the ‘Canes are the worst team in the eastern conference and the closest thing our team will have to a sure thing from here until April.
Tuomo Ruutu is a pest. From picking on Nicklas Backstrom to giving Dennis Wideman world’s grossest injury, the dude is flat out annoying. So in the third period of the Caps’ 2-1 win over Carolina, Alex Ovechkin — after losing an edge — decided to take his anger out on the 28-year-old Finn. As Ruutu dumped the puck in the Capitals’ zone, Ovi leveled him into the boards with his titanium left shoulder. The hit was so powerful, in fact, that it took out both Ruutu and the linesman beside him. After the officials disallowed Laich’s second period goal, this is the kind of accident that’s nice to watch over and over on replay.
Wideman grimaces in pain after being laid out by Tuomo Ruutu. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon!)
Cam Ward celebrates the victory. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
After an extended 10 day break to rest an undisclosed injury, the Capitals welcomed their kapitan back to the lineup Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. During the three game stretch in which Ovechkin sat out, the Caps went 2-1-0, their most dominant win coming Saturday night in Montreal when Braden Holtby shutout the Canadiens.
Alex Semin’s Canadian Ice Dad, Jason Arnott, also returned from injury, forcing Jason Chimera to the press box. Pre-game, head coach Bruce Boudreau told CSN that while it was great that two of his top six forwards were returning, he also had a fear that there would be a letdown. “You know, the guys have been working so hard while [Ovechkin and Arnott] have been out. I’m scared they’ll look at them returning and go ‘they should carry the load now.’”
In the first period, however, Boudreau would have nothing to worry about. Led by a determined Russian Machine, the Capitals as a team hit everything that moved and rifled 16 shots at Cam Ward, feeding off the energy of a Verizon Center crowd they hadn’t played in front of for sixteen long days. The Caps would not see their hard work be rewarded, and the game would remain scoreless until early on in the second period. After Nick Backstrom took a tripping penalty at 1:06, Joe Corvo brilliantly found Jussi Jokinen wide-open in the slot for a one-timer. Jokinen converted and the Hurricanes would take a 1-0 lead.
Indeed it would be. Despite chucking 19 shots at Cam Ward through two periods, the Capitals went into the lockerroom facing a 1-0 deficit. Why? Because everyone’s favorite Ruutu brother, Tuomo, converted on a three-on-two odd man break, blasting a slap shot past a screened/interfered-with (you choose) Braden Holtby. The goal, scored with only 36 seconds left in the period, forced the normally chipper Craig Laughlin to lament “goals at the beginning and end of periods are always back-breaking.” Joe Beninati then let us know that the Hurricanes were 21-0-0 when leading after two. Wuh oh.
But then God’s gift to hockey, Alex Ovechkin, decided to do his thing. 47 seconds into the third period, Ovi rifled a twisted wrister past a baffled Ward. Tie game. Then six and a half minutes later, Matt Hendricks showed us again why he was the most valuable player the Capitals picked up over the summer. Jason Arnott, who was sprung on a breakaway after serving a two minute minor for hooking, was initially denied by Ward’s glove. However, a rebound was left in the crease, and Hendricks, who had just killed off Arnott’s hooking penalty, hustled all the way down the ice and chipped home the rebound.
On November 28, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
The Washington Capitals hosted the Carolina Hurricanes in a pleasant matinee of stick’n'puck and HOLY WOW I SAW THE CAPS WIN IN PERSON FOR THE FIRST TIME EVAR!!!
Marcus Johansson got it started early with a crease-borne knock-in set up by Eric Fehr. A 2-on-1 breakway by the Alexes led to a picturesque second tally (Minor scored, Major gets the assist). Erik Cole made the Caps pay for not clearing the zone and put the Canes on the board early in the second period. There the score sat until only 2.2 seconds remained in regulation. With Cam Ward on the bench and an extra attacker up in our face, Eric Staal tied the game, earned the Canes a well deserved point in the standings, and sent us all the way to the shootout. Where Ovi and Varly totally dominated. Caps beat Canes 3-2 (SO).