Saturday, September 19, 2009

Caps Win In OT... Again

Preseason: Capitals 3, Blackhawks 2 OT

In almost a repeat of the first preseason game, the Capitals have to come from behind to get the win in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks. In front of 19,734 in attendance at United Center in Chicago, the Caps' start was a little slow. The Blackhawks jumped to the early 2-0 lead. But Washington came back with goals in the second and third periods to force overtime and eventually winning with just :12 seconds left in the extra frame.

The Caps got off to another shaky start, but goaltender Micheal Neuvirth kept them with in reach. Chicago got some jump from the crowd early and scored in the first five minutes of the game off of a Patrick Sharp clean up shot with the puck in the crease.

The Caps then started taking penalties, much like they did in the game against Buffalo. They were called for four straight infractions for a total of 5 penalties in all. But the penalty killers did their job, not allowing a single Blackhawk power play goal. That seemed to build the momentum for them and Chris Clark's goal that bounced off a Blackhawk's skate to beat Huet seemed to energize the team.

The line of Clark, Alex Giroux and Kyle Wilson were on the ice for Chicago's 2 goals, but they made up for it by scoring the next two. Wilson scored late in the third to tie up the game and Neuvirth continued to look strong in net, killing off a 3:19 Blackhawk power play when Giroux took a 4 minute high sticking double minor.

Cam Barker took a high sticking call late for the Hawks and the Caps had a late power play to finish regulation, but their power play didn't click. It wasn't until late in the overtime period did Shaone Morrisonn dig the puck from the corner and feed it to a waiting Mathieu Perreault. Perreault buried the walk off goal and the Capitals stay perfect in the preseason.

The battle for second chair in goaltending has reached a boiling point. After Semyon Varlamov gave a spectacular performance in Buffalo, Neuvirth answered with a pretty well played game in Chicago. Both are making the decision harder for the coaching staff to pick one over the other, but one thing is for sure: the Caps have some great goaltending for the future.

Kyle Wilson and Mathieu Perreault played well for the Caps as the battle for the forward spots heat up. Wilson finished with a game tying goal and an assist, while Perreault scored the game winning goal in OT. Andrew Gordon also played well although he didn't make the scoresheet.

The Caps' defensive squad played well overall. Although there were some breakdowns, Neuvirth was there for the save. John Erskine had 5 hits, while Morrisonn assisted on the game winning goal. Tom Poti and Milan Jurcina both finished a plus 2.

The Blackhawks had a lot of stars on the ice for this exhibition game, but the Caps held pretty firm. Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien and Cristabol Huet were all in the line up for the Hawks and the Caps still were able to hold their own. A positive sign.

Caps have one day of practice before their next game at the phone booth in Chinatown versus the Sabres. Caps may have more cuts on the way before the game Monday night.

Photo: AP

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