Capitals 4, Devils 0
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times
The Washington Capitals took a step in the right direction as they beat the red hot New Jersey Devils at the Rock. You could call it a growing step. The Caps defeat the best team in the east (something they haven't had much of a problem of doing this year be it Ottawa or New Jersey) to gain ground in the division and make a strong push for the playoffs. Cristabol Huet was perfect and the Caps for the first time in a long time look energized and ready for the playoffs.
Newly acquired players Sergei Fedorov and Huet both made strong debuts for the Capitals. Matt Cooke was not in the line up as Bruce Boudreau would like the feisty forward get a practice in first. Fedorov had a beautiful no look pass to Alex Semin to set up the first goal in the second and looked in peak performance through out the game (maybe he does play better with younger players). Then Huet closed the door on 18 shots and the Caps played very well in front of their new goaltender.
Mike Green, Alex Semin, Viktor Kozlov and Donald Brashear all scored for the Caps. I don't know why so many people are surprised when Brashear scores, he is always shooting and they are usually good hard and accurate shots on net. One was bound to go in. Semin and Green both scored on the power play.
While Alex Ovechkin didn't score, he did get an assist on Kozlov's goal. The pressure to get to 50 goals may be a distraction for the slick forward, but I expect him to score a few more times before the year ends. It is nice to see some other Caps on the score sheet in the mean time.
Timing for the Capitals couldn't be better as they made the most of their leap day. The Caps pull to within 3 points of the division leading Carolina who are started to look strained under injury and keeping up with the Caps' surge. Not only that but the Caps have pulled to within 3 points of 8th place in conference. For the Caps to be hitting a stride right about now could be the best thing for them.
With 17 games the Caps have also come close to and will most likly eclipe their standings record of the previous two season of 70. A bench mark that in November actually looked like a pipe dream. If the Caps can continue their march in March, things are coming up roses for Boudreau's bunch.
The road doesn't get any easier, the Caps play both a surging Toronto and red hot Boston in their next two games. The only good thing about both games will be the Caps will be in the confines of home. The Caps have to be looking for a win against both clubs before they hit the road to take on Buffalo and Boston again.