Scoresheet - Wash Post - Chi Trib
The Caps may have gotten off to a horrible start, but they sure made up for things on banner night at the Verizon Center. Brooks Laich broke the 2-2 tie in the third and Alex Ovechkin scored a pair as the Capitals extend their home opener winning streak to seven games, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2.
The game started a bit late as the Capitals raised their Southeast Division Champions banner before the game. In their amazing run last season, the game they played against Chicago was the last game the Caps lost. They would go on to win 7 striaght to clinch the division crown.
Ovechkin, Laich and Matt Bradley are your scorers. Each got their first goals of the year. Jose Theodore even got involved in the scoring as well, getting an assist. Ovi, Bradley and Mike Green were all a +2. Sergei Fedorov was a solid faceoff man winning 13 of 17 draws while Nick Backstrom struggled in the circle winning only 2 of 10.
The game started pretty shaky for the Capitals. The Blackhawks took the lead :26 seconds into the game. The Hawks followed that up with a second chance rebound that got passed Teddy halfway through the first. From the Atlanta game into the start of this game, the Capitals just didn't look right. Something was off. They didn't look fast enough and looked as if making a pass was the same as solving Pythagorean theory. It just wasn't Caps hockey.
The energy line consisting of David Steckel, Bradly and Donald Brashear finally brought some energy back to the phone booth when Steckel set up Bradley's goal and from then on the Caps started to look much more familiar. They were forechecking with abandonment, finding the open player, getting shots to the net and, most importantly, dictating the tempo. The Caps kept the Blackhawks on their heels for good long portions of the game.
Maybe the Caps were energized by their energy line goal or by the amazing crowd at the sold out Verizon Center, who were loud even during team warm ups. Even a few M-V-P shouts resonated after Ovi's second goal. Whatever the case maybe, the Capitals looked much better in the second and third periods.
Theodore's play reflected the team's play as well. Even down two nothing, Theo made an awesome save on a wide open net shot from a Blackhawk. A few hit posts here and there, he looked much more comfortable in net towards the end than in the start. While he was not perfect, he did look better at stopping shots in this game than in the previous two.
While Ovechkin took the praise and the game's number one star, it was Laich that was recognized by his team as the hardest working player. Captain Chris Clark gave Laich a hard hat, after which several of the guys poked fun at him, even Ovi. But Laich's hard work gave the Caps the lead and his hard work didn't go unnoticed.
Some quotes from after the game:
Blackhawks head coach Denis Savard on Ovechkin: "Look at him and how he plays - he wins his battles. That's why he's a star player. You want to be a star player, you do it every night, not just once in a while."
Bruce Boudreau on Theodore: "I just felt really bad for Theo. I knew he wanted more than anything the start tonight, and I knew he wanted to redeem himself."
Ovi on the comeback win: "Showed our character. We know we can come back. It doesn't matter what the score is."
Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell on Ovechkin: "You can't defend him with just one guy. Especially when he cuts to the middle, it's hard to gap up on him. You need help from forwards."
Theo on his performance: "It didn't start the way I wanted, even yesterday in Atlanta. At one point, you try to do too much, and it affects your play. Tonight when they scored two goals I said to myself, 'Go out there and play like you can.' From there I did my part and the guys did the rest. I knew that if I allowed only two goals, we would come back. And that's exactly what happened."
Laich when asked about the hard hat given to him by Clark: "It's something new. It goes to the guy who works hard and does something to help the team win. He (captain Chris Clark) also said I have to wear it for all interviews."