Thursday, December 08, 2011

"That's More Like It"

Capitals 5, Senators 3
Game Summary

(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
The words uttered by play by play John Walton on Alex Ovechkin's goal and Troy Brouwers tally just :15 seconds later were, "That's more like it." Besides a few late flubs that made the game a bit more interesting, the Capitals seemed to find some success with head coach Dale Hunter's system and they snap a 5 game win-less streak on the road with a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Capitals would get goals off of Jeff Halpern (his first goal in 15 games), Nick Backstrom (10th of the season), Troy Brouwer (gwg, a), Alex Ovechkin (his first goal in 6 games) and John Carlson with the empty netter. Carlson would add two assist in this second straight 3 point game (3 assists against FLA).

The Caps got off to an okay start, jumping on loose pucks and getting scoring chances on the transition. But they flubbed a first period 5 on 3, and couldn't solve Craig Anderson through the first 20. The Caps would get the first goal by Halpern who broke the 0-0 tie early in the second period as he crashed the net, took the hit and got the rebound off of a Dennis Wideman slapper. It was a great effort through the neutral zone the Halpern, Brouwer and Matty Perreault  puck supported each other with Wideman jumping up on the play.

However, the Caps were a bit too cavalier on the defensive side of the puck as the period wore on and the Senators jumped on those mistakes about five minutes apart to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. Erik Condra scored on a lucky rebound bounce that went the Senators' way. John Erskine couldn't tie up Condra's stick in time and was going to take a penalty anyway for the hook. Nick Foligno not long after the Caps killed off a "Too many men" penalty.

(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
The third period was full of action as the Capitals answered back with three straight goals spurred on by a power play goal by Nick Backstrom half way through the third to tie the game. Then Alex Ovechkin scored a beauty of a goal that was very Ovi-esque. Four on four, Ovi picked up the puck in his own zone and broke down the wing and around the Senator's net to a chorus of boos. He stopped hard on the far half boards and faked the slapper to snap it past Anderson. Ovi finished seven shots on net.

The Caps would score just :15 seconds later when Marcus Johansson fed a pretty pass to a breaking Troy Brouwer. The Sens took their foot off the accelerator for just a moment and the Caps jumped on the their opportunities. Brouwer would get the Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, assist and a fight.

The Capitals did a much better job on keeping the Senators' shots to the outside and Tomas Vokoun ate up shots and had better rebound control since becoming a Capitals. Vokoun has been shaky in net of late, but he looked a bit more solid against the Senators tonight.

Caps special teams did okay, they allowed a power play goal against but were able to kill 5 other power plays including a :51 second two man advantage. Backstrom's power play goal gave the Caps their first power play goal under new coach Dale Hunter and their first PPG in the last six games (last ppg against Rangers 11/25). The Caps, however, still got into some penalty trouble late in the game and nearly gave up a 4-2 lead they accrued in the third period. Alex Semin and Joel Ward both took bad stick penalties in the dying minutes of the third giving the Senators some life.

Karl Alzner had the blocked shot of the game. In the waning moments of the last Senator power play, Daniel Alfredsson had a wide open shot from the hash marks in the slot. But he could lift the puck over a sprawling Alzner behind a out of position Vokoun.

The Caps were able to kill off the late penalty and Carlson scored his fifth of the season on an empty net goal. The Caps take back second in the division by staying a point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, but still trail the Panthers by 5 points for division lead. They are still hovering around the 8th place spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Caps Notes:
  • Roman Hamrlik skated in warmups, but did not dress for the game. Mike Green missed his 13th game of the season still nursing a groin injury. Matt Hendricks was dinged up against Florida and sat out with a knee injury. Alex Semin returned to the lineup only to get one shot on net, no points and was a -1.
  • Caps return to the Verizon Center to face a team they had a lot of success against last year in the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the Leafs routed the Caps in Toronto scoring 3 power play goals and down the Caps 7-1 on Oct. 7.
  • This is the first two goal win for Dale Hunter who has only lost and won games decided by one goal through his first five games.
  • Senator forward Chris Neil took a run at Ovechkin and hit him clean in the first period. Both players skated back into the play with Neil chirping at him all the way. Ovi gave him a bit of a spear and Neil dropped like a ton of bricks. Neil would take an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and Ovechkin could not escape the wrath of the Ottawa crowd who loudly booed the Capitals winger whenever he touched the puck.

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