Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Caps Take Habs To The Brink

Capitals 6, Canadiens 3
Game Summary

Washington Capitals' star players are finally hitting a stride. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble scored a pair of goals as the top line with Nick Backstrom accounted for 8 points tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. They would take a three games to one lead over the Habs as they take over the game in the third period and take the game 6-3.

Ovechkin started the scoring on the power play. The Caps' power play had been stifled up until game four. Nick Backstrom carried the puck up the ice and found Ovechkin on the wing as the Canadiens' defenders backed away from the oncoming Capitals. Ovi snapped it past Montreal's netminder Carey Price.

The Habs would answer back just over a minute later as Mike Cammalleri put away a centering pass up over Semyon Varlamov. Then Montreal would really take over the game in the second period.

The Capitals seemed to lose their cool a bit, taking some bad penalties off of some bad discipline. They took three pealties in the second allowing the Habs to build some momentum. Semyon Varlamov made some spectacular saves including three glove saves on what looked to be sure goals. Varly would weather the Habs' storm only allowing a power play goal in the second period.

It happed on the second penalty of the second period by the Capitals, Jason Chimera was called for roughing after a Canadien took a swipe at Varly. Andrei Markov shot it from the point, but missed the net. The puck bounced back into the crease behind Varlamov and Brian Gionta stuck his stick in and tapped it into the net.

Bell Centre erupted and the Canadiens had the Capitals on their heels out shooting the Caps 21 to 9 in the second frame. Ovechkin did draw a Hal Gill holding call close to a minute later, but the Caps would be guilty of a too many men penalty after some miscommunication on the bench. It looked like the Caps wasted another opportunity to get back into the game. That was until the Habs let up in the last seconds of the period.

Boyd Gordon took a clearing pass from John Carlson with Roman Hamrlik pinched in and took himself out of the play. Gordon broke into the Habs' zone with Knuble on the wing creating a 2 on 1. Gordon waited out Josh Georges, who sprawled out to block the pass, and he sent a saucer pass over Georges stick onto Knuble's. Price had no chance as Knuble buried the shot and all the momentum the Canadiens built crashed with a little over six seconds left in the middle frame.

The Caps seemed to come out with some jump in the third and it would be Ovechkin once again who would find the back of the net to give the Caps the lead. Less than a minute later Jason Chimera would score to make the hole a bit deeper for the Habs. Add two empty netters by Mike Knuble and Backstrom to round out the scoring for the Caps.

Both goaltenders started the series as back-ups, but they took center stage in this on. Varlamov out played Price, coming up with the saves his team needed. Varly showed flashes of his performance in last year's playoff run making some great saves. He would stop 36 Canadiens' shots.

The Capitals will take a commanding 3 games to one lead over Montreal by winning three straight games. They have the chance to clinch the series and move to the second round back at the Verizon Center Friday night.

Caps notes:
  • Since their disappointing start in game one, the top line of Knuble, Backstrom and Ovechkin have been on fire. Backstrom has nine points (5 goals, 4 assists), Ovechkin has 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) and Knuble 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists).
  • Alex Semin finally made the scoresheet with a single assist, his first and only point of the series thus far. Semin has been trying to fight his scoring funk. He has 20 shots on net in the series but has yet to score.
  • The Caps again dominate in the third period. The Caps have 80 shots in the final period to the Canadiens' 35.
  • Montreal's goaltender Carey Price was not very sportsmanlike in the waning moments of the game. On the Jason Chimera goal he was tagged with an unsportsmanlike penalty when he chipped the puck at Jeff Schultz as the Caps celebrated. Then when Nick Backstrom scored his empty netter, he gave him a two handed swipe of the stick from the bench. He would be tagged with a double minor for unsportsmanlike for that tap to the Caps's forwards legs. "It's just frustration," Price told reporters following the game. "It's not a good move. But let them know you're there. I didn't mean to actually hit him, but it's over."

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