Friday, November 13, 2009

The Defense Leads Caps To Victory Over Wild

Capitals 3, Wild 1

The Capitals are finding ways to win with out franchise player Alex Ovechkin in the line up. The latest victim of the Caps sudden offense by committee were the Minnesota Wild. It would be the defense that would step in and help with the scoring as the Caps down the Wild and keep their hold on the lead in the Eastern Conference with a score of 3-1.

Mike Green scored his third goal of the season on a nice feed from Tomas Fleischmann (who is now on a seven game point streak). Brian Pothier netted the game winner in the third at the two minute mark when Eric Fehr set up a screen in front of Josh Harding. Brooks Laich would put the cherry on the top with an empty net goal.

The Caps played a pretty controlled game through out, although the start was a bit shaky. The Caps were out-shot 7-1 through the first half of the first period. But they more than made up for it by getting 13 shots in a span of about 6:01. From there it looked like they were playing a team that had traveled from Florida the night before.

Mike Knuble took a nasty spill into the net in the first. He went head first into the net after charging for the loose puck and a Wild defender shouldered him over Harding. Knuble left and did not return to the game. He would break his finger and expected to be out 3 to 4 weeks.

Semyon Varlamov could have had the shutout, but Cal Clutterbuck's point streak against the Capitals prevailed. He sent a knuckleball shot towards Varly and the puck snuck in on the stick side. The Wild would take a 1-0 lead early in the second period. But less than three minutes later, Green scored his third goal of the season on the power play.

The Capitals' power play was good through out the night, but it only yielded a single goal out of three chances. They enjoyed nearly a minute or more in the Wild's end with the man advantage. The power play's improvement had a lot to do with the Caps better passing. It seemed the passes were much crisper and on point than any game they have played in thus far in the season.

Pothier would score his second goal of the season early in the third when Mathieu Perreault found the defenseman trailing the play. Fehr was set up in front of Harding for the screen and Pothier was able to find the open net. The goal would stand despite some close calls in the Caps' defensive zone, including a barrage of shots where two defensemen and Varlamov were down in the crease blocking shot after shot.

In the end, it would be Brooks Laich scoring his 8th goal of the season into an empty net. The play looked to be an icing call, but the Wild's Nick Schultz didn't huff it down the ice and the linesman washed out the icing call. Laich was on the forecheck and was able to slap the puck off the stick of the defender and into the empty net.

The Caps retake sole possession of first place in the East with their win tonight. They can stretch a 2 point lead into a 4 point lead when they face the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night. The Devils are close on the Capitals' heels. What maybe helping the Caps is that they are playing the Devils in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils are 9-0 on the road, but are mortal on their own ice.

Caps Notes:
  • Perreault continues to impress the Caps' coaching staff. Since being called up he had accumulated 1 goal, 3 assists and is a +5 in 5 games played. Bruce Boudreau said that he most likely stick around to play against the Devils even if Ovechkin comes back to the lineup.
  • David Steckel was a whopping 83% on face offs (15-3). Steckel is second in the league in face offs won, Sid "the Kid" Crosby is first on that list.
  • Five different Capitals had 4 or more shots on net in the tilt against Minnesota. Brooks Laich led all Caps with 5 shots on net.

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