Saturday, October 03, 2009

Caps Rake The Leafs In Home Opener

Capitals 6, Maple Leafs 4
Scoresheet - Times - Post

The Capitals' faithful filed the Verizon Center to watch their team play the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were not disappointed in the effort the home team gave. In one of the loudest home openers in memory, the Caps dominated the Leafs through at least two periods and hang on to finish with a 6-4 win.

Alex Semin played one of the best games I have seen him play as a Capital. He scored a pair of goals and he had an assist. He also played a bit more physical throwing a hit and not shying away from the Leafs defense. Other Caps adding to the scoresheet were Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich and new comers Brendan Morrison and Mike Knuble.

"It felt like we were in a piranha fish tank," Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said of the Capitals quick start. "They came out and they were all fired up."

Even though the Caps were out shot through most of the game they were dominating the play against the Leafs through the first two periods. They held a comfortable lead going into the third period 6-1. But the hard-work Leafs didn't quit and the Caps were guilty of letting up a little.

"It’s a great start but we have to learn to win 6-1 and not think we are going to win 9-1," Bruce Boudreau said. "It was a cheap lesson for us."

"We can’t turn the puck over against them, because they are coming two guys hard," Caps' defenseman Shaone Morrisonn added. "It’s a team that works very hard. We don’t want to be giving up that many goals. When we are up 6-1, going into the third we want to finish the game."

The Leafs were able to shut down the Caps' dynamic scoring and score three straight goals in third period. A stark contrast from the stingy defense played up in Boston where the Caps held their foes to only 3 shots in the final frame.

"In the third period we came out determined not to let any more goals in, played a little bit better defensively and found a way to get back into the game," Wilson said when asked about the positives the Leafs could take from the game.

Semyon Varlamov played very well through the first two periods and then was left out to dry in the third by his collapsing defense. But when he had to make the big stop for the Caps, he was there. He did the full on splits to make a save on John Mitchell who was looking at an open net. Varly was there for a few more saves for his first win of the season.

"Toronto is a team that shoots everything and on the PK, [Varlamov] had some big stops," Shaone Morrisonn said of his goaltender. "He is a young kid and he is just going to get better and better."

What did work through the first two periods of the game was the Caps transition game, which turned out four or five breakaways on the Maple Leafs who let forwards get in behind them.

"Our transition game is great, it’s top notch," Brendon Morrison said. "Get the puck, move it up the ice, chip and support, use our speed ... We have got guys that can skate and guys that can score so we are a dangerous team on transition."

Puckhead's Player of the Game is Alex Semin who impressed me in this game. He was moving his legs, he was playing more physical and he got rewarded for taking the puck to the net. Semin also stayed around the locker room to answer questions from reporters, something he rarely did since his arrival to DC.

Caps Notes:
  • The Hershey Bears opened their season tonight against the Norfolk Admirals and won 3-1. Andrew Gordon scored a hattrick and Braden Holtby nearly had the shut out. Keith Aucoin and Alex Giroux both had three assists on the night as well.
  • The Caps gave out Mike Green bobble head dolls for the home opener. Green had one assist tonight and was a -1.
  • The Caps "dropped" their '08-'09 Southeast Division Championship banner before the game. The Leafs did not attend the pregame ceremony. The Caps redid all of their banners and retired numbers to match the teams red, white and blue uniforms. The banners are also much bigger than last years.

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