Saturday, November 07, 2009

A TWO-point night: Caps 7 - Panthers 4

It was an odd night at Verizon Ce-- down, boy. At Verizon Center as the Capi—DOWN boy. As the Capitals roared from behind in the – DOWN!

Seems Kanoobie is excited over what transpired at Verizon Center this evening as the Caps roared back from a 3-2 deficit to open the third period, outscoring the Florida Panthers 5-1 in the final 20 minutes to skate off with a 7-4 win that was not kind to goaltenders.

Mike Knuble tied his career best night with two goals and two assists for four points, Tomas Fleischmann continued his torrid pace after a late start to the season with two goals – he is now 5-2-7 in six games since his return – and Mathieu Perreault notched his first goal of his NHL career. Brooks Laich chipped in a two-point night of his own, and Brian Pothier had, in our opinion, a whale of a game playing the role of “Mike Green” moving the puck up ice.

It was an odd game that really started from the end of last night’s 4-1 Caps win, with the teams flying through the night to get to DC for the rematch 24-hours later. We would have expected more goals tonight than last night, and in the first period, it was looking as if we were going to be proven wrong on that score. Only a Mike Knuble goal from 18 inches off the left post from a nice feed by Brendan Morrison kept the period from being scoreless.

But maybe the 24-hour turnaround was working on the defensemen a bit in the second period, they having to generally skate more minutes, make the long change, and do a lot of skating backward and taking hits to move the puck. In any case, Florida made short work of the Washington lead to start the second, Michael Frolik snapping a rebound past Jose Theodore to tie the game.

After that it was a blur – eight goals 27 minutes. For the second period portion of it, Washington took a lead on a goal by Brooks Laich, and then Florida scored a pair to regain the lead 16 minutes into the second period. The teams skated off at the second intermission with the crowd, not booing, but certainly muttering about the state of things with a team trailing the Caps by 11 points in the standings taking the lead.

The Caps who took the ice in the third, though, were beasts. Mathieu Perreault got things started by pilfering the puck from Dmitry Kulikov, passing it to himself off the back of the Panther net, then stuffing it past goalie Scott Clemmensen’s left pad for his first NHL goal.

40 seconds later, there was Matt Bradley, in the “Matt Bradley Corner,” throwing the puck in front where Quintin Laing beat a lazy stick check by Bryan McCabe and flipped the puck past Clemmensen to give the Caps the lead.

Florida wasn’t quite done as Cory Stillman defelcted a shot from the point by Kulikov down and past Jose Theodore to tie the game for the last time at four apiece. Barely two minutes later, the tie was broken when Tomas Fleischmann took a feed from behind the net from Nicklas Backstrom and roofed the puck under the crossbar as he was falling to the ice.

Mike Knuble got his second when a shot from Shaone Morrisonn appeared to clip the inside of Knuble’s leg on the way through, changing direction just enough to elude Clemmensen. Flesichmann closed it out with his second of the game and fifth of the season.

Other stuff…

- Here’s a new one… the Quintin Laing Hat Trick… a blocked shot, a broken nose, and a goal. He ended the night with all three.

- Maybe the Caps should play with four defensemen more often. Milan Jurcina and Tyler Sloan had a brutal night. Jurcina was on the ice for all four Panther goals, and Sloan was out there for three of them.

- Mike Knuble’s other four-point game was also against Florida, back on Valentines’ Day 2003, when he wore the Boston colors.

- 13 skaters had points for the Caps. The only forwards without points tonight were David Steckel (not unusual) and Alexander Semin (not good).

- Semin is now 0-2-2 in his last six games with five minor penalties, including two more tonight, both (again) in the offensive zone. Maybe it has something to do with something Coach Bruce Boudreau hinted at in the post game – with Ovechkin on the bench, he doesn’t have anyone to talk to. Perhaps he’s just not relaxed out there.

- It was the best of worlds, followed by the worst, then the best for Dmitry Kulikov, who scored his first NHL goal, then coughed up the puck to Mathieu Perreault who scored his first, then he got the primary assist on the Cory Stillman goal that tied the game for the last time. Big night for last June’s 14th overall pick.

- The Caps wearing down the Panthers over the 60 minutes shows up in the final faceoff stats. There were 10 draws in the Caps’ end of the ice for the night, 22 in the Panthers’ zone.

- Brian Pothier had an assist, was plus-3, had a hit, three takeaways, and a blocked shot. He sampled the defenseman’s buffet rather enthusiastically.

- Shaone Morrisonn had a similar game, numbers wise – an assist, plus-2, three hits, three blocked shots.

- Things could have gotten dicey right after that Knuble goal to open the scoring. You don’t want to give up a goal on the next shift. The Caps didn’t. But taking a penalty in the offensive zone isn’t a whole lot better. That one’s on the captain, who took such a penalty 21 seconds after Knuble’s goal.

- 15 Caps were credited with hits. Even Nicklas Backstrom had three. Of the three skaters who weren’t the surprise there is Brooks Laich. But he creates turnovers with just his steely gaze.

- Only one team in the East has fewer losses at home in regulation than the single loss the Caps have – Tampa Bay. Really... they haven’t lost a regulation game at home yet.

- With the seven goals, the Caps have taken over the top spot in team scoring in the league (3.76 goals/game). It was the most goals scored by the Caps since last February 1st against Ottawa in a 7-4 win. That was the first time they scored seven since a January 1st win over Tampa Bay… yes, by a score of 7-4.

- The Caps had 16 shots in the first 40 minutes, 16 in the last 20. Florida had 24 in the first 40 minutes, five in the last 20. Gotta shoot the puck to score.

- That’s three games in his last four in which Jose Theodore has allowed at least four goals. Oddly enough, he hasn’t lost a game in regulation in any of them (2-0-2, 3.72, .882).

It was entertaining, even if it assaulted the sensibilities of the old school fan. Florida didn’t get good goaltending, and their defense looked as if it was skating in oatmeal in the third period. The Caps finally showed off their depth, and the defense wasn’t as bad as four goals seems (Jurcina and Sloan picking this night to have the same sort of off night).

It is an odd quirk of the Bettman School of Standings Points that on the one hand, the Caps could have been said (as we did) to be on a three-game winless streak coming into this weekend. On the other hand, after two wins against Florida, the Caps have earned a point in 11 of their last 12 games (8-1-3).

Where you stand depend on where you sit… sit!... SIT KANOOBIE!!!


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