Monday, April 05, 2010

Caged Laich Takes Down Bruins

Capitals 3, Bruins 2 OT
Game Summary

Brooks Laich took a late penalty in the third period when the game was tied at 2. He sat in the box feeling helpless. He didn't have to worry about it for long, the Caps were able to kill it off and take it to overtime. Then Laich turned his fortunes around as he blocked Alex Semin's shot and put in the rebound himself. The Capitals win a big 3-2 in overtime against a team desperate for as many points as the Boston Bruins can get to stay in the playoff picture.

These two teams have not seen each other since February 1st. Both teams spent the first half of the first period. Nick Backstrom would break the stalemate after Zdeno Chara left him to hit Alex Ovechkin. Ovi saw Backstrom open and passed it to his linemate and took the hit from Chara.

"I saw Chara right away and I said, 'Oh geez'" Ovechkin said about absorbing the Bruin defender's hit.

The open Backstrom squeezed the puck through Tuukka Rask and trickled over the line. The play went to review to see if the puck had crossed the goal line completely as Dennis Wideman tried to clear the puck behind his goaltender, but there was not enough to overturn the goal called on the ice.

"I thought I had it," Bruins goaltender Rask said. "It's obvious it's a goal because (the league) took a look at it upstairs. Tough goal."

"I am not one hundred percent convinced [the puck went over the line]," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. "But the decision is made and you move on and that's what we did."

Move on they did as the Bruins came on late in the period with their forecheck. Jose Theodore came up with some big saves as the defense were caught running around a bit. One of his saves included a two pad stack denying a Micheal Ryder shot, a save he called "Old school."

"I have been approaching the last twenty games like the playoffs," Theo said of good play of late. "You can't get away from the details and that is what I am focusing on right now, just controlling rebounds, challenging shooters and feeling comfortable."

But the Bruins won the face off and Chara shot it towards the net, Wideman tipped it past Theo and the game was tied with just 1.6 seconds left in the first period.

The Bruins worked off of their late period goal and pressed the play as the Caps just looked content enough to keep the B's at bay. The Caps got away with a penalty as Semin clipped Chara in the face, forcing the defenseman to bleed badly. He would return to the game. Boston took the lead moments later when the Caps defense broke down leaving Patrice Bergeron on a semi break away and he made a nice move on Theo to put it behind him.

"I liked the way we fought back," Julien said.

But late in the second period, the Caps would strike as Ovechkin seemed to get his legs back. he made a move out wide on the Bruins defenseman and tried to pass it out front. The blocked pass came back to him and he shot it to the front of the net where Mike Knuble was crashing in. The puck went off Knuble and into the net with :30 seconds left in the second period. He played well enough to earn the game's number one star.

"[Ovi] competed, he got involved," Boudreau said of Ovechkin's play in this game. "He wasn't afraid to hit .. ever since that suspension I think when he is going into hit guys, he has been turning away a little bit."

Both team had chances in the third, but couldn't capitalize sending the game into overtime. Wideman would once again play a big part in the turning point in overtime as he took a high sticking call on Tomas Fleischmann just :24 seconds into the extra frame.

On the ensuing power play, Bruce Boudreau put out 4 forwards; Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom and Brooks Laich. Laich would score in front of the net just :44 seconds into the overtime period to give the Caps the win.

While it is just another regular season game, there is a possibility the two teams are a possible first round matchup.

"We want to play well against anybody," Laich said of playing the possible first round foes a couple of games before the post season. "I don't know if it helps or not, maybe we make them angry."

Since wrapping up the President's Trophy, the Caps sat Mike Green and John Carlson out as healthy scratches. Others may also be scratched for tomorrow night's game against Pittsburgh as well.

Caps Notes:
  • Per Caps PR: The National Hockey League will conduct media conference calls this week with head coaches Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings (Tuesday), Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday) and Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals (Thursday). Not sure if these are the finalist for the Jack Adams award.
  • In prospect news, the Capitals signed free agent Dustin Stevenson to a three year entry-level contract. The 6'5", 220 lbs. defensemen was named the SJHL Player of the Year after posting 47 points (11 g, 36 a) and 134 penalty minutes in 56 games. Currently he plays for the La Ronge Ice Wolves and is playing in the SJHL playoffs. He leads all defensemen with 17 playoff points (7 g, 10 a).

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