It was another heart-stopping affair in yesterday's matinee against the defending Cup champs the Boston Bruins. Let me be honest with you, I wasn't so sure at times during the last few minutes that the Caps would come away with one point, much less two. Somehow they did. Here's a rundown of the goals from the good guys:
Alexander Semin opened the scoring by putting in a rebound off a Karl Alzner point shot. I'm not sure if it's the eight straight starts, but Tim Thomas looked a bit off the whole game.
Twenty-five seconds later Matt Hendricks put in a shot from in front to put them up 2-0. It should be noted that, while he didn't get credit for an assist on the play, Jay Beagle's hard work in the corner was what generated the scoring chance in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, there's something to what Coach Hunter said after all.
You could hear the steam coming out of coach Claude Julien's ears after that goal. So you knew the Bruins would come back and make a game of it, which they did. By the end of the fifth minute of the second period, it was tied at 2.
Speaking of Beagle and hard work, he would be rewarded with a goal of his own. The Caps took advantage of some miscommunication when two Bruins actually collided with each other. Alex Semin absorbed two hits, then deftly slipped a pass to Beagle, who had rushed into the open space in the high slot area.
Next came the game winner. It was created by a penalty drawn by Matthieu Perreault. In fact, the last three penalties of the game were committed by the Bruins. They seemed a bit off in the discipline department, yet they "brought the house" as John Walton put it. In any case the Caps were the beneficiaries of the power play, and for once they converted. Brooks Laich put it home from the close-in slot.
Now notice where I said he scored. From in close. He couldn't have been more than five feet from the goalmouth. THAT is where he is most effective, not from the circles, not from the point, not blasting it from the wing, but fighting through traffic and getting in close. Just about every goal he's scored. I've never said he was a terrible player, but he is capable of so much more. I think he could be a solid 25-35 goal scorer if he would just take his own advice more often.
A two goal lead for the Capitals, who have been money with a lead after two periods. Except the Bruins have been equally tough when down after two this season. Keep in mind that they're not the Cup champs for nothing. You knew it was going to be interesting. Perhaps a little too interesting.
The Bruins ended up putting 13 shots on net. They would only get one goal, which Johnny Boychuk put in with about three minutes left.. The Caps for some reason only got two shots. Much too passive. There's not taking chances and then there's tightening your belt so hard you cut off your circulation.
The last two minutes has to be the most nail-biting, heart pounding, nerve wracking moments of the season. I'm talking how your lover makes you feel on your best day type of heart pounding. If that gives you any idea. The ice was tilted to the Caps' zone for all that time period and it led to uh, some interesting decisions with the puck. Joel Ward's deciding to ice the puck when he didn't have to comes to mind. There was a lot of head banging going on (mine--against my headrest) with every blessed time the Caps would ice the puck in those last two minutes. In fact, there as more icing in those two minutes than on the last five cakes combined at our company birthday parties.
I haven't mentioned him up to this point, but don't doubt for a second that Tomas Vokoun had a fantastic game yesterday. He stopped pucks that had no business being stopped, none more evident than that seeing-eye save he had with a minute twenty left. The one where he had to see around at least six bodies in front of him. He would skate away with 30 saves, and more importantly, the win. He's finally showing why George McPhee took a a chance on him last summer.
John Carlson bobbled the puck waaaaaay too many times for my liking. After the so-so year he's had, people should be wondering what's wrong with him, not Alex Ovechkin.
Dmitry Orlov had perhaps his best game of the season, notching two assists and playing a very solid puck movement game. Expect more from him in the games to come, especially with Mike Green munching popcorn for the next two.
Marcus Johansson missed a wide open net yet again. And as Bruins announcer Jack Edwards duly pointed out, it was the third time in five games he's done that.
A big two points indeed, and on the road. Home sweet home against the Leafs....should be an easy two points against a team that's lost its way. Or will it be?