Saturday, January 05, 2008

A TWO-point night: Caps 5 - Canadiens 4 (OT)

Félicitations, Club de Hockey Capital!!

The Capitals made it four-for-four in Canada for the season this afternoon with a 5-4 overtime win over the pesky Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Pending games to be played this evening, the win moved the Caps to within four points of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and within seven points of the top spot in the Southeast Division.

Mike Green delivered the game-winner – his second overtime game winner in the past dozen games – 1:27 into the extra session.

Green’s goal caped a wild and wooly contest that saw the Caps once more come back from a two-goal deficit, the third time they’ve done so in less than four weeks.

You’d think that in a game with nine goals, there was some rather poor goaltending on display, but that wasn’t entirely the case. Most of the goals in this one came off good plays or superb individual efforts…

Alexei Kovalev finding a passing lane to hit Tomas Plekanec, who had a virtually open net to shoot at…

Andrei Kastitsyn undressing Mike Green on a rush and roofing the puck over Olaf Kolzig’s blocker…

Alex Ovechkin rifling a blur of a shot right off a face off past Carey Price…

Roman Hamrlik waiting at the post to Kolzig’s right as a slap pass made it all the way through on the other side, hitting the end boards and bouncing right to Hamrlik, who had only to bat the puck into an empty net…

Michael Nylander taking a pass from Tomas Fleischmann, stepping around Kastitsyn, and finding Mike Green, who wasted no time getting the shot off for the game winner. Green didn’t get everything on it, but got it off in time before Price could scramble across the crease to cut it off…

There were goals that each goaltender might want back…Price didn’t look like the next coming of Patrick Roy on goals by Nicklas Backstrom or Boyd Gordon, and Kolzig probably should have had the save on what became a goal by Alexei Kovalev. But this was more a skills-on-parade kind of game than it was poor goaltending. It might even have been worse but for some fine saves by both netminders.

The number in this one that comes leaping off the page is…17.

That is the number of shots attempted by Alex Ovechkin, more than a quarter of the Caps’ total (63). 12 of those attempts were blocked, and we’re going to assume that Mike Komisarek is spending extra time in the whirlpool after blocking seven shots (five off the stick of Ovechkin).

We were just wondering…how is it that a player who was treated like a pylon on the game winning goal – a goal scored by a player who was 1-2-3, +1 – end up being named the third star of the game at the expense of that player scoring the game-winner? Just adds fuel to the idea that the whole “three stars” idea is one whose time has come and gone…it’s just a “homer” device (and the Caps are not immune to that sort of thing, either, in games at Verizon Center). Green might have disqualified himself for his own pylon moment on the Kastitsyn goal, but his was the winner in the end.

Brooks Laich didn’t show up in the scoring summary, but he had another solid game…8-for-11 in the circle, a couple of hits, a couple of blocked shots.

Matt Pettinger must be setting some record for lowest shooting percentage…three more shots today without a reward (he also had four misses), giving him two goals on 78 shots this year (2.6 percent). If Alex Ovechkin had that shooting percentage, he’d have six goals. But give Pettinger credit…he’s still plugging out there.

Much will be made of Mike Green taking on more minutes – he was on the ice for 27:46 in this game – but Jeff Schultz was next in line in ice time: 25:33. With Tom Poti and Brian Pothier on the shelf, Schultz has to assume a larger workload, but therein lies a problem, too. Schultz might not be far enough along in his development to be assuming that big a role on a consistent basis.

Matt Bradley had nine hits in 12:20. Can we suggest a nickname…”Tomahawk.”

Komisarek had better not use all the hot water in the whirlpool…Milan Jurcina had seven blocks, too.

Nine goals in this game…and John Erskine was on the ice for only one of them (Ovechkin’s second). Of the six Caps defensemen, he was the only one against whom Montreal scored no goals.

Shaone Morrisonn was on the ice for three of the four and still ended up a +1…he was also on the ice for three Caps goals.

Last year, after 42 games, the Caps had 18 wins (18-17-7). This year, they have 17 (17-20-5). Which feels better?

It was a nice way to end a short road trip, especially with a five game home stand coming up. There is only one divisional game in this upcoming set (Florida), but the five teams coming to Verizon Center have a combined road record of 50-45-9, as of the start of play today. It doesn’t get any easier.


Anonymous said...

"Last year, after 42 games, the Caps had 18 wins (18-17-7). This year, they have 17 (17-20-5). Which feels better?"

That is actually a quite brilliant point you make here.

I feel as though this year feels better. Okay, at least now it does. Because at that point last year, it was the slow part of our awful decent. And oh, did it ever suck.

Chris said...

Okay, so I have to point this out, because I never would have seen it coming at the beginning of the season:

Ovechkin: +6
Nylander: -17