Saturday, February 07, 2009

A TWO-point night: Caps 3 - Panthers 1

See? They can kill penalties.

For the first time since January 3rd, the Caps killed off all the penalties they took, including a major penalty that gave the Florida Panthers a power play for all but the last second of regulation as the Caps defeated the Panthers, 3-1. It was even a better performance on the penalty kill than that as the Caps had to kill a 5-on-3 for the first 1:05 on the major penalty for checking from behind taken by Shaone Morrison, the result of a holding penalty taken by Sergei Fedorov with just under six minutes in regulation.

From the sellout crowd to the closely fought game, it had the feel of a playoff contest, and these are two teams that could find themselves playing a best-of-seven come April. Eric Fehr got things started for the Caps by working the puck up ice with Tomas Fleischmann in the first minute, snapping the puck under Tomas Vokoun’s left arm to get the Caps an early lead. Keith Ballard got the Panthers even eight minutes later with a drive from the top of the offensive zone, and after that things settled into a back and forth affair, the Caps getting a ton of shots on Vokoun, and the Panthers playing a counter-punching style for the rest of the first period and the second.

Stephen Weiss took a penalty at the end of the second period, and that would be the crack in the Florida armor the Caps would need. In the first minute of the third period, with Weiss still in the box, Alex Ovechkin readied himself for a shot on Vokoun. But with the Florida defense overplaying him, Ovechkin slid the puck to Mike Green, who rifled it over Vokoun to give the Caps the lead they would not relinquish.

Green would light the lamp one more time as the Caps were killing off the late major to Morrison, taking the puck at the boards in the corner to goalie Jose Theodore’s right, then lifting it out of the zone and all the way down the ice into the empty net vacated by Vokoun as Florida tried to take advantage with a sixth skater against the four defenders on the ice for the Caps.

Other stuff…

Although the Caps outshot the Panthers, 39-21, they also out-giveawayed (if that’s a word) the Panthers, 26-14.

Alex Ovechkin had an assist, but he also had 12 shots. That makes eight times this year he’s had at least ten in a game.

Was Florida ever going to score after Ballard’s goal? Well, if you look at the Panthers’ top six goal scorers – David Booth, Nathan Horton, Jay Bouwmeester, Cory Stillman, Michael Frolik, and Gregory Campbell – they had a combined five shots for the game. None of them had more than one, and none of them had an even strength shot on goal in the third period.

Ovechkin had the just about the whole buffet on the score sheet – 12 shots, 14 attempts, an assist, three hits, two takeaways, two blocked shots, and he won his only faceoff, creating an excellent scoring chance for himself in doing so.

We like Alexander Semin taking five shots, even if he didn’t get a goal. The six giveaways, not so much.

Shaone Morrisonn might get some grief for that last major penalty – it wasn’t an especially smart play (if you can see the guy’s name plate on the back of the jersey, don’t hit him…), but he did have four hits, too , and had a pretty decent game up to that point.

The two goals by Mike Green make for goals in six straight games. If you’re wondering, yes, Ovechkin does have a longer streak in his career – seven games (February 10th – March 8, 2006).

And speaking of Green, he is 7-6-13 in his last six games.

After Morrisonn took the major penalty at 14:59 of the third period, the Panthers had one shot on goal… one.

And, after Morrisonn’s penalty, Tom Poti took the most ice time among defensemen in killing off the major (2:48). You’d expect that. Who was next? Jeff Schultz (2:13).

Richard Zednik…four hits? OK.

And, if you’re counting…that’s 12 sellouts in the last 13 games for the Caps.

Losing isn’t a good thing, but when it happens the trick is to stop the bleeding before it becomes a habit. The Caps seemed to get the message tonight, as they pressured the Panthers from the openingdrop of the puck. Tomas Vokoun kept the Panthers competitive with some big saves, but it wasn’t evident that Florida would score after the Ballard goal unless there was some freakish deflection. That was good team defense, and great team defense when the Caps had to kill off the last five minutes of the game a man short. Just the way to wrap things up before going on the road.

Great job, boys.


Mike said...

Dude, way to call the score! Impressive!

this space for rent said...

One more comment - the VC was seriously rocking in the final five minutes of the game. We had the loud going something fierce through the end of the game and all the way around it after the end.

this space for rent said...

Also, fix your thermometer.

TJA said...

"And speaking of Green, he is 7-6-13 in his last six games."

i.e. the 6 games since the all star break ended. Perhaps someone is making a point about being left off the all star roster?

Wani said...

Wow, I am a recently new reader to your blog and being a 31 year old caps fan who is now living in NYC, I really appreciate your site. Do you have the almanac from back to the future II?! Way to nail that score prediction AND the specifics of the empty netter. Your site is great and I am trying to send it to all my old caps faithful. I will be going to the game at MSG this Wednesday and hoping for the same miracle that I witnessed last time they came here.

God bless Ovie and keep up the great work.