The Caps sure did need that one, eh? A big win in a tough building to end a brutal road trip should give this team the confidence to take care of business at home against Florida Saturday afternoon and head into the All-Star break on a roll.
Last night's win was about Olie Kolzig (34 saves), Alex Semin (the Caps' best player right now), discipline (only three minor penalties taken) and, more than anything, desire. Every player on the Caps who had more than 5:36 had at least one hit (five Caps had at least four hits) or one blocked shot, led by Alex Ovechkin's six hits and Jeff Schultz's three blocked shots. But you had a feeling that the Caps might be leaving Raleigh with two points when Chris Clark's cross-corner dump in was redirected by a 'Cane defenseman into the net vacated by John Grahame who had left to go retrieve the puck. Much the way you knew the Caps were doomed when the puck bounced against them on Daniel Alfredsson's short-handed goal earlier in the week, when you're getting the bounces, everything seems to fall into place around them.
Regarding Semin (sounds like a bad Lifetime movie, doesn't it?), he now has ten goals in the Capitals' last seven games. The last Washington player with 10 or more goals over a seven-game span? Not this guy, but this guy. I love that Semin has nearly caught AO in goals. Judging from a superficial look at their friendship and individual competitiveness, this can only serve to push each of them to best the other in much the same way that Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris pushed each other in 1961.
Finally, it's worth noting that the much-maligned (in these parts at least) CBS line had a very strong game, generating several high-quality scoring chances and delivering a few big hits. Of course, the lack of conversion on some of these chances (I'm looking at you, Ben Clymer), was disappointing, but Step 1 is "Create Opportunities," Step 2 is "Convert Opportunities."
- Hart: Brad Richards (2G, game-winning SO goal, +1, 6 SOG in 3-2 win at Jersey)
- Ross: Ryane Clowe, Patrick Marleau, Marc Savard, Ryan Smyth (3 points each)
- Norris: Sheldon Souray (GWG, A, 4, SOG, 2 hits)
- Vezina: Cristobal Huet (W, 44 saves on 45 shots against)
- Richard: Brad Richards, Ryan Smyth, Alexander Semin, Chris Clark, Evgeni Malkin (2G each)
- Calder: Evgeni Malkin (2G, 5 SOG)
- Aiken: Barry Brust (L, 2 goals allowed on 10 shots against in just 18:14 of work)