Saturday, April 17, 2010

Caps Stage A Dramatic Come-Backstrom To Even Series

Capitals 5, Canadiens 5 OT
Game Summary

Once again the Caps got off to a less than desirable start. Two shots and two goals ended the night for Jose Theodore. But Nick Backstrom's monster night would overshadow Theo's mis-steps in net. The Washington Capitals big players showed up for game two and they would even the series at one with an over time winner against the Montreal Canadiens 6-5.

Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom both had a 4 point night. One goal and three assists for Ovi, a hattrick and an assist for Backstrom. Eric Fehr would score his first of the series and 20 year old John Carlson had a goal and assist. A big goal that would send it to overtime. The win would snap a 6 game playoff home overtime losing streak for the Caps and it would come in comeback fashion.

The Canadiens would get the start they wanted in game two. The first was a turn over by Jason Chimera at the Habs' blue line. Scott Gomez would turn the play around and find Brian Gionta wide out at the top of the circles. The shot seemed to handcuff Theodore and find it's way to the back of the net. It was a shot the Caps' goaltender should have had.

Theo would be terrorized again by a seemingly innocent play. The Caps had been dominating the play when another turn over in the neutral zone had the play going in the opposite direction. Andrei Kostitsyn put a nice wrister up over Theo's shoulder and that would do it for the Caps netminder. Enter Semyon Varlamov.

The Caps would cut into the lead as Eric Fehr sniped a snap shot past Jaroslav Halak. It was a break away for Fehr set up by line mate Tomas Fleischmann who capitalized off of a Canadien turn over and found Fehr breaking toward the middle of the ice. But the Caps couldn't build off of that goal.

In the second period Kostitsyn would score a pair of goals on replacement Varlamov giving him his first playoff hattrick of his career. One of them was on the power play after Brooks Laich took a tripping call, the other at even strength. It would build a 4-1 lead for the Canadiens and it looked they would be en route to a two game series lead from there on. They would quickly clog the neutral zone and the Caps could not get into Montreal's zone.

The Caps would eventually break their offensive woes when Backstrom shot one that bounced in off traffic in front. It would cut into Montreal's 4-2 lead and start a Caps resurgence. They were crashing the net with vigor and kept Montreal on their heels with time squeezing away in the second period. They would not score, but it didn't take long for them in the third.

Alex Ovechkin would strike early, just under three minutes in. John Carlson blasted a shot from the point and Halak seemed to make the save. Ovi was in front and poked his stick into Halak's pads and the puck trickled in behind him and the Caps were now only down by one. The goal would be Ovechkin's first of the series.

Then at the midway point in the third, Backstrom and Ovechkin would tie things up. Ovi skated down the right side and attempted a shot through Jaroslav Spacek but it was blocked. After the shot laid back in front of Ovechkin and the Canadiens broke coverage for a second, he found a wide open Backstrom in front of the net for a tap in play to pull the Caps even at 4 apiece.

The tie would not last long as the Caps once again turn over the puck. Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec played a little give and go that ended up behind Varlamov. With just over five minutes to play, it had looked as if the Canadiens would steal another game at Verizon Center and put their foes in a 2 game series hole.

The Caps mounted a come back by double shifting the top line and it payed off when Ovechkin drew a slashing call and the Canadiens seemed to let up their play for a bit. Backstrom kept the play alive cutting down the middle and found 20 year old John Carlson who was on the outside lane. He cut in to the upper slot and ripped a wrist shot past Halak and sent the Verizon Center crowd into a frenzy as well as tying up the game with 1:21 left to play.

Not much could be generated after that and the game would once again go to overtime. The Canadiens had the first scoring chance, nearly redirecting one past Varlamov. But the counter attack by the Caps saw Backstrom score his game winner through a screen on the Habs' defender and beat Halak high glove side. The building exploded and the Caps showered the ice to congratulate their first win, and hopefully celebrate a momentum change in the series.

The Caps draw even with the Canadiens as the series moves to Montreal at a game apiece.

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