Capitals 5, Panthers 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post
It's good to win at home. For the Caps they used their own backyard as a vessel to climb back to .500 and as Bruce Boudreau said, "We've officially reached mediocrity." The Capitals help their own cause and leap frog the Panthers (again) to regain 3rd place. The third place standing they had was lost with Florida's win over New Jersey the night before.
Brent Johnson got the nod in net and looked pretty solid. The Caps took it to the Panthers early jumping to a 3-0 lead on a couple of tallies from former Panther Viktor Kozlov and John Erskine. In the second period though, the Panthers jumped right back into the game with three straight goals of their own, two on the power play. I was starting to think the only way the Capitals ever win is by coming from behind. But Alex Semin dashed my fears on a powerplay goal and Alex Ovechkin added another for insurance, his 36th goal of the season.
Shaone Morrisonn blocked a shot on the penalty kill in the second and did not return. The big defenseman was not listed in the injury list and team officials said he was "okay." Tomas Fleischmann also had some drama early when his metal blade fell out of his skate. Flash took a big spill when he tried to skate on the plastic holder but made it back to the bench on one skate. Unfortunately for him play kept going for a good 4 to 5 minutes afterward and he had to wait for a whistle to get the blade back so the equipment manager could fix him up.
Nicklas Backstrom deserves some props as the first rookie in nearly 30 years to post 4 assists in a game. If that doesn't put him in the running for the Calder, I don't know what else can. Backstrom has 27 assists and 36 points in his debut year in the NHL. He is above the league average for goals, assists and points. Not too shabby.
The Caps are on a roll and finish their home stand 4-1-0 gaining 8 points in the process. The Caps jump over the Panthers again to regain a 3rd place spot in the Division and find them selves just 4 points from a playoff spot. While it's good for the team to get back to .500, they still have a long way to go. Lucky for the Caps the Southeast Division is not very strong. While they might be 4 points from the team in eighth place, they are only 3 points from division leading Carolina. If the Caps can surpass them, they could be sitting in 3rd instead of 8th.
The Caps have to continue their winning ways and it looks like the Penguins helped them a little with Sid "the Kid" Crosby out with a high ankle sprain. Who didn't see that coming with Crosby? He dives time after time when he skates to the net, it was a matter of time that he would take an awkward crunch into the boards. Stay on your feet boy! The Caps look to their losing streak against the Pens on Versus Monday night.