There could not have been a more different team from one night to the other. After a lackluster effort in Atlanta, the Washington Capitals made sure their home opener would be a memorable one. Boy oh boy, was it ever. The Caps defend their home ice in more ways than one and embarrass the Devils 7-2.
Alex Ovechkin is officially on the board with a pair of goals and an assist on the night. John Carlson also played well netting a goal and two assists. Tomas Fleischmann, Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr also added goals in the rout.
Since I am short on time tonight, here are some of the major points of the big win.
- Michal Neuvirth played fantastic again for the Caps in net. He stopped everything he saw in the second and third periods. Both goals against him were the result in some bad turn overs. When the Caps need a save (especially in the second period) Neuvirth was there, worthy of the games third star.
- Marcus Johansson is going to be a really good player in the NHL. Even with a turn over early in the game that led to a Devil goal, his play roared back with some solid moves to the net. He didn't score, but his game was not a disappointment after the turnover.
- Ovechkin's goal was the catalyst for the outbreak late in the second period. His game winning goal earned him game's first star. His penalty shot was a departure from is normal move. He swung wide and opened Brodeur up before out waiting the Devil goaltender and backhanded the puck past him.
- The Caps' power play still needs work. They were just one for five on the night including a chance to add to a five goal lead after Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Lablond took a instigator penalty with less than five minutes to play in the game. Granted the Devils have a great PK, but it would have been nice to see the Caps power play unit gel.
- Letourneau-Lablond is not the sharpest tool in the shed. After a series of fights, he challenged the smallest Capital Johansson to a fight twice. Johansson said no both times. Lablond then chased Johansson down the ice and jumped him when play started. The play will be an automatic game suspension for an instigator with under 5 minutes left in a game. The Devils' coach will also be fined $10,000. Dumb move.
- Mike Green played a well rounded defensive game. That is right, defensive game. He had 6 hits and blocked 3 shots, including an important block on the penalty kill in the second to keep the score tied at 2 at the time. His fight with Kovalchuk was a highlight as he stood up for his teammate.
- The fights at the end of the game got to be a little ridiculous. The Devils would rack up 41 PIMs in the third alone. Compared to the Caps 32 PIMs as they engaged in the Devils frustrated rants. Jason Chimera started the rough stuff with David Clarkson. Following that bout, Green took on Kovalchuk. Then Matt Hendricks and Rod Pelley took a turn, followed by Matt Bradley and Clarkson (again). It ended with the instigator on Lablond after he ran down Johansson. Carlson came to the aid of his team mate and was given a 10 minute misconduct.
- Just like the loss in Atlanta was nothing to get hung up on, this win against New Jersey doesn't mean the Caps have won anything significant (besides two points). Caps need to keep playing their style and move on.