Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Perfect Road Game

Capitals 3, Thrashers 0
Scoresheet - Post - Times - Mia Herald

After a dismal effort in Atlanta, the Washington Capitals made a re commitment to playing better defense and putting forth a better effort. Their response to a 5-1 shake down by the Thrashers was to stifle the Panthers quick offense. They had a few timely saves by Jose Theodore who recorded only his second shutout of the season and the Caps were able to keep the Florida Panthers at bay with a 3-0 win.

The Capitals just could not be guilty of not working hard in this tilt as they battled for every puck along the boards, jumped to loose pucks and played a much better possession game. Brooks Laich was the benefactor of a lucky bounce that gave him some room shorthanded. He beat Tomas Vokoun stick side for the Caps first goal. Viktor Kozlov added an early third period goal and Mike Green took the empty netter goal to finish off the Panthers.

What might have been the stat of the night was the Caps' defense who did not allow a single Panther shot in the third period. That's right, they could have played with an empty net and still won the game. The Caps also played better on the penalty kill, obviously killing all four Panther extra man chances.

The Caps powerplay didn't have much to work with as the Panthers stayed pretty disciplined. But Kozlov's goal was on the heels of the Panther penalty. The Caps themselves were not as disciplined, but their team defense was so good and the way Jose Theodore was playing it didn't seem to matter much.

This was just a picture perfect road game for the Capitals. They stifled their opposition and quashed their speed in the neutral zone. They did not have to be flashy offensively, but just make the simple play. The forwards came back and were more defensively responsible. It was a team effort and the fruits of their labor was a shutout for their goaltender.

Viktor Kozlov is your Puckhead player of the game. He was every where tonight. He had several chances to score and eventually did in the third. He used his size and strength to get to loose pucks and win battles.

Caps road trip continues as they have a tentative practice in Tampa then play the Lightning on Thursday night. If the Caps keep playing like this on the road, they could get themselves out of their funk just in time for the post season. The best time to come out of one.

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