Monday, January 21, 2008

Cardiac Caps Pull It Out

Capitals 6, Penguins 5 OT/SO(2-1)
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Both the Capitals and Penguins were down a couple of players due to injury. But you wouldn't know it by the way others had stepped up. In a night were defense was a mere thought, the Capitals win a see-saw battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins to end a six game losing streak in the shoot out.

The open game went back and forth and Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin conducted one of the most exciting one-upmanship I have seen to date. Malkin took a few good body shots at Oveckin and recorded 7 shots with two goals and an assist. Ovechkin had 11 shots on net also getting two goals and an assist, but was also a +1 and a shoot out goal. The Caps ended up winning the game at the Igloo and had the last laugh. Ovechkin takes over the league scoring race with his 37th and 38th goals.

It was a marathon of offensive chances that had both goaltenders scrambling and defensmen's heads spinning. Viktor Kozlov scored a pair of goals and Tomas Fleischmann got a tally. Alex Semin and Ovechkin both scored in the shootout to take home another 2 points.

It wasn't easy for the Capitals though, they nearly lost the game numerous times taking some bad penalties and the Pens took advantage on the powerplay. Without Shaone Morrisonn on the blue line with Mike Green the Penguins found it easy to penetrate the defense. The Capitals had to take chances to get back and both teams seemed content with the high risk, high reward type of play.

In the third period the Caps came out with some jump with the game tied at 4 and it looked as if Jeff Schultz had scored off a face off, but then a phantom hooking call on Matt Bradley washed it out. I call it phantom because that was going on all game for both teams and it seemed convenient to call it when the Caps had scored. I thought the Refs sort of home called it. Not only was the goal not counted, Bradley was sent to the sin bin and :20 seconds later the Pens score on the power play. But the Refs did make up for the oversight by 3 straight penalties on the Pittsburgh and the Caps were able to come back on a Kozlov wrister.

Overtime wasn't pretty either, the Caps were caught in a rare 3 on 5 PK for one minute and seven seconds. The Caps were able to fight it off and take it to a shoot out. Honestly I was almost afraid to watch as the Caps record in the shoot out was not something to shout about. But Both Alexes scored, and the Capitals once again come from behind to win. Coming from behind sort of exemplifies the Washington Capitals. It makes for some exciting games, but also a lot of heart trouble when the Caps lose a lead. They are quickly becoming the cardiac Caps.

I am a little tired of calling out Olie Kolzig for soft goals, but he didn't have a very good performance against the Penguins. He even admitted it after the game:
"In all honesty we deserved to win that game in regulation," said goaltender Olie Kolzig, who yielded five goals on 15 shots. "It wasn't a great night for me, obviously. But the guys persevered." - Wash Post

Kolzig should have stopped the first goal by Maxime Talbot and both Malkin goals, they were all stoppable shots. In all fairness, the Capital's defense did break down a few times. Kolzig lucked out in the shoot out as the first shots the Penguins took were misses.

These two points have catapulted the Caps into a tie for second in the Southeast Division and tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. Their hard work has them in a tie with the Atlanta Thrashers and if they continue to gain points, they will also overtake the lead in the Southeast. Carolina seems to be feeling the Capitals' pressure as they have won their last two to stay atop the division. Right now the Caps are the only team with a winning record in their last 10 games in the Southeast Division. They play Toronto in a home and home (Wednesday in Toronto, Thursday at the phone booth) before the All-Star break.

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