I agree with Joe B., that was way more exciting than it had to be. But a win, especially in regulation is one I will take every day. Still, there's more than just lip service in Troy Brouwer's postgame comments regarding the Caps last few minutes of play.
It was another late night for me so I caught most of the game on the radio. It was shaping up to be another good solid effort by the Caps. Brouwer opened the scoring (he's been doing that a lot lately, hasn't he?) with a power play marker. Perennial pain-in-the-Caps'-collective-butt Martin St. Louis tied the game six minutes later. Though the Lightning seemed to come up with their share of scoring chances, it looked as if the Caps held a slight edge in the flow of play.
That's when Eric Fehr took over the game. Yeah, I'm kind of regretting what I said about him a few games ago....that is, unless he disappears again and/or gets hurt.
But seriously, F-16 seems to be back in full stride. He was ably assisted (literally) by his linemates Matthieu Perreault and Joel Ward, both of whom are in the midst of having comeback seasons themselves. Fehr first found the net on some great work in front of the net (hey, positioning is part of the art, right?) for the Caps' first lead in the second period. He then put them up by two to open the third period scoring with a perfect blast that eluded Lightning goalie Matthieu Garon.
Random Jeers and Cheers:
Jason Chimera, what the hell? Get it together, you can play better than this.
Braden Holtby had another solid game, stopping 27 shots. The starting job is his to lose for the time being and his mates are believing in him again. Sounds like a good marriage to me.
Matthieu Perreault finally looks to have some linemates he can play with. Although he is still not exactly top line material, the Fehr-Perreault-Ward line combo may be a solid one for the rest of the season and should see regular action.
Alas twas the end of the point scoring streaks that once belonged to both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribiero. But the fact that neither of these guys had a point and the Caps were still able to produce, and win, is better news. Because it means the system works.
Joey Crabb...continuing to do more with less. Sounds like my overall budget.
And now back to the game.....
As I was exiting my vehicle to catch the last few minutes of the game I heard John Walton say that the Caps' next shot would be their 40th of the game. Unfortunately that shot never came. Fortunately, it wouldn't prove to be their undoing. The Caps had pushed things to 4-1 by then, but quickly gave up a goal to Teddy Purcell to make it 4-2. No cause to worry, yet.
But for some reason the Capitals are a lot like my favorite football team the Baltimore Ravens...they just can't seem to make things easy for themselves. And like a girl I knew in college, Joel Ward gave it away which led to a Nate Thompson goal for the Lightning. The score was now 4-3 with more than three minutes left in the game. Thus began the girding of the loins, the clenching of fists, the biting of nails, and the munching of sandwiches.
Somehow the Caps were able to hold off a suddenly desperate Lightning team that smelled blood. And they were clearly gassed towards the end. There was more icing in the last 90 seconds of the game than in 10 episodes of Ace of Cakes. But the clock inevitably ticked down with the last clear and the Caps had two points all for themselves. As a result of their current win streak, they are now in a three way tie for third in the Southeast division and are just four points away from a playoff seed. They also happen to be one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Much is still to be done, but things are looking a hell of a lot better than they were this time last week.
I certainly haven't forgotten the GWG. If you wanted a "defining" moment to the game, I leave you with the following:
- Not readily letting go of, giving up, or separated from an object that one holds, a position, or a principle: "a tenacious grip".
- Not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence or in a course of action: "a tenacious legend".
- Jay Beagle's play in front of the net for the winning goal, and at the end of the game