We said this before…there are 20 games in a season you’re going to win, and there are 20 you’re going to lose. It’s what you do with the other 40 that will make or break your season.
Well, this one was one of the 20 that the Caps should have lost. And they didn’t.
Snatching a 4-3 overtime win from the Columbus Blue Jackets was a product of persistence and talent…and a
For a while, it looked as if the game’s goals would all be scored into the same net – the one
Nash’s first breakaway was not a product of luck but some boneheaded rookieness by Nicklas Backstrom, who (on a 5-on-3 power play) did not lift an attempted pass over Nash’s stick. Nash intercepted the pass and hot-footed it the other way, staying a step ahead of Alex Ovechkin long enough to fire the puck through Johnson’s pads and the first 3-on-5 scored against the Caps since 1991.
When Jason Chimera scored less than a minute later to give
Then the clubs changed ends…Alex Ovechkin skated down the left side, and using defenseman Adam Foote as a screen rifled the puck past Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaire. We’re tempted to say that no one uses a defenseman as an offensive tool better than Ovechkin, who has a singular knack for shooting through their legs or just past their hips for goals that surprise goalies.
As the period was winding down, the Great Experiment in breaking up the top line paid dividends as Viktor Kozlov found Alexander Semin all alone at the far side of the
“Norrena,” you say? What happened to Leclaire? Well, he lost in a weird game of chicken, where each team ended up running the other’s goalie. Johnson had, by this time, been plowed into a few times, but had bounced back. On this occasion, Quintin Laing barreled down the middle and with a Blue Jacket defender piled onto Leclaire in his crease. Leclaire apparently took a stick in the neck, and his night was done. It was probably the biggest play of the game, or at least the one that made the rest possible, since the Caps were having a lot of trouble solving Leclaire.
Until Tom Poti finally got off the schneid…44 games with the Caps without a goal, 45 in a row in all dating back to last year. And it came on the most innocent of shots, just throwing it at the net and having it sneak under the bar where it rolled around the frame of the goal and came out, giving the impression that it hit the crossbar. After a brief review, the goal was confirmed, and the Caps tied the game.
Where Ovechkin won it with a goal that was largely a product of the open ice a 4-on-4 in overtime produces. He sent the puck cros-ice to Tom Poti, who returned it to him at the top of the right circle, and then it was a matter of picking a hole to shoot for. He found it, and the Caps had two points where none appeared to be forthcoming tonight.
If you look at the numbers, you’d think the Caps won this game by at least a couple of goals. They “out-attempted” (shots, shots blocked, missed shots)
Tom Poti might have had his best game as a Cap, and that was not because of his goal…or his assist…but of his “save.” With Brent Johnson prone at the top of his crease, Poti covered the near post to block a shot that prevented a sure goal, then flicked the puck out of danger with his hand. He had five blocked shots overall.
Eric Fehr did not have his minutes rationed as one might have expected. He skated 16:46 and spent a lot of time aggressively forechecking. He had a couple of decent chances and looked as if he could be a shot in the arm on the top line. And the move of Kozlov to the second line paid immediate dividends, highlighting something about Alexander Semin’s effectiveness. Semin is a deft puckhandler, but often times of late, the longer he held the puck and dangled with it, so the probability that something bad would happen – he’d lose and edge, he’s whiff on a shot, he’d make a bad pass, or he’d just turn it over – increased. Tonight, he got the puck from Kozlov in a scoring area and immediately buried his opportunity. That will be something to watch for as this goes forward – is Semin handling the puck less and being more effective as a result?
It was a welcome two points, and now the theme might be, “make one, two…”
The Caps have that opportunity tomorrow in