Capitals 4, Panthers 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Mia Herald
Alex Ovechkin has a way of taking over games. Whether his chances are there all game or not. In tight games Capitals' head coach Bruce Boudreau expects his best players to be the best players on the ice. Ovechkin is one of those players and was he ever at his best when the Caps needed him the most.
Ovi gets the hattrick and Eric Fehr scores to get a goal in his last four straight games. Jose Theodore stopped some big shots, in fact he turned away 29 shots. Nick Backstrom had two assists including the game winner when he passed it from below the goalline in his own zone to a waiting Ovechkin.
After the Capitals jumped to a 2-0 lead, it seemed thing were going to go their way. But a defensive break down midway through the second and a stupid delay of game penalty that lead to a Panther power play goal early in the third and the heat was turned up. The game suddenly was tight.
After the Sergei Fedorov penalty, it looked as if the Caps could do no right. Besides a few offensive bites, they just couldn't get it going against the Panthers. What looked to be just a dumped puck by Backstrom was actually a pass to a very covered Alex Ovechkin. When Ovi took the pass and was one-on-one with Jay Bouwmeester the play looked as if was going to die. But Ovechkin pulled up and used Bouwmeester as a screen to beat Tomas Vokoun five hole.
Ovechkin's hattrick came off a clearing attempt when the Panthers pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker.
The Caps defense was brillant at times, broke down other times. Credit the Cats with a good game plan to stretch their opponents. Their speed did test the Capitals' defense, much the same game plan of the LA Kings who humbled the Caps at the phone booth. The Capitals penalty kill did let in the game tying goal, but it was perfect for the rest of the game. They took 8 penalties all together and killed seven of them.
Puckhead's Player of the game is Tom Poti who was a solid figure on the back line. Although he was on the penalty kill that let in the game tying goal, but his experience on the back line was key through out the tight checking game. He also blocked two shots and finished the game with two shots and was a +1.
Mike Green goal scoring streak came to an end. It wasn't for lack of opportunities, Green had 4 shots on net and one missed shot. Although he looked more contained in this game and he didn't jump up in the play as much as he had in previous games.
This is a huge win for the Capitals as they try to gain ground on Boston (if that is possible this late in the season) while keeping their distance to second place in the Southeast Division. The Caps wrap up their three game road trip with 5 points. Now it's home sweet home for the next five games. During that stretch they will be facing some pretty tough teams in Montreal, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images