Friday, March 11, 2011

7th Heaven

Capitals 2, Hurricanes 1
Game Summary

Coming into this game the Carolina Hurricanes were solid with a lead after two periods. 21-0-0 this season, their late goal in the second period could have spelled out doom for the Capitals just looking to keep their win streak alive. The Capitals answered the challenge when Alex Ovechkin netted his 28th goal of the season early in the third and Matt Hendricks would follow up on a break away rebound to put the Caps up for good as they defeat the 'Canes 2-1 and continue their win streak to seven.

It looked to be a hard fought, grind it out game between these two divisional rivals. The Hurricanes looked to outwork the Caps along the boards and were leading in shots through out the game. It would make for a good defensive battle through the first two periods. But the 'Canes sort of bored the Caps' defense enough late in the second and Tuomo Ruutu would sneak a shot between Braden Holtby's blocker and body.

Alex Ovechkin righted the ship as Marcus Johansson cut into the zone and dropped a pass to Ovechkin giving him space to make the shot. The shot may have deflected in, but it found room past Cam Ward's right shoulder as he went down to the butterfly to make the save. It rang off the inside of the post and into the net giving Ovi points in seven straight games (4 goals and 11 points during that stretch).

The Caps would get in to penalty trouble. Jason Arnott would take a minor, called for hooking not long after Ovechkin's tying goal. But the Caps penalty kill was on point tonight, killing 5 for 5. When Arnott was sprung free from the sin bin, Hendricks blocked the shot and the puck sent the big center in on Ward alone. Arnott would not score on the break away, but Ward left a juicy rebound and hard working Hendricks followed up the play and chipped it past the sprawling 'Cane goaltender.

The win didn't come easy. Even with the lead, the Caps practiced bending but not breaking on defending the one goal lead. The 'Canes turned on the pressure on the Caps keeping them in their zone for some time. It would eventually lead to a Matt Bradley penalty for high sticking, but the Caps survived the storm.

Braden Holtby continues to play solid for the Caps. His shutout bid that lasted through six periods ended with the late second period goal. But when he was called upon to make the big save he was there with a leg pad, glove or blocker to continue his little hot streak. With three straight wins since taking over for Michal Neuvirth when he left the Tampa game after taking a shot in the face mask.

The Caps stretch out their win streak to seven games and are solidifying their lead in the Southeast Division. Not only do they take two points from a division rival, but they have put pressure on the Lightning as they lost tonight to Ottawa. The Caps are now four points ahead of Tampa. They also slip into second and stretch their lead in the overall Eastern Conference standings to 3 points over the Boston Bruins and are a game behind Conference leading Flyers.

Caps Notes:
  • Caps play the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon on NBC. The Hawks are spending the weekend in DC after a visit to the White House today and took part in the First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative "Let's Move!" along with Cap Mike Green.
  • After registering 0 points in eight games for the New Jersey Devils, Jason Arnott has 4 points in six games since being traded. Three of the four points were on the game winning goal (scored gwg against STL, assists on gwgs against EDM and CAR), while the other point came on a game tying goal against the Islanders (his first game in a Caps sweater).
  • It's too early to be realistic, but I will be starting the "If the playoffs started today" question on who the Caps might face in the first round. Right now it would be the Buffalo Sabres.

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