A season ago, the Caps faced Dan Ellis and the Predators twice, with neither game settled after just sixty minutes of play, thanks in large part to Ellis and his .934 save percentage in the two games. Tonight was more of the same, right down to the final result: a Caps win.
Ellis, who entered Saturday evening's match up having been yanked in his previous start without stopping any of the three shots he faced, stopped 33 Caps shots through overtime, but was beaten by Alex Ovechkin in the shootout and that's all Semyon Varlamov needed at the other end to seal a 3-2 victory for the home team.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Varlamov stopped the first nine shots he faced, a span which covered the first 34:29 of the game, before being beaten upstairs by a Shea Weber missile. The Preds beat the young netminder again just 1:35 (and two shots) later on an absolutely awful goal from a horrendous angle. If this sounds familar, it should. That said, Varly was fantastic in the first period, including denying two Preds breakways on the same inexcusably bad Caps power play and was very solid the rest of the night.
- We should've known the Caps were going to win when AO potted his second of the night - the Caps are now 25-0-2 in his last 27 multi-goal games.
- After the win against San Jose on Thursday night, Ovechkin was quoted as saying, "We tried to help Varly. When Sema [Alexander Semin] and I found out Varly would be in net, we told each other ‘Let’s do our best to help him win.’" Now, I don't think AO plays any harder for one guy than the other, but it's worth noting that now seven of his nine goals have come with Varly in net, and he hasn't scored for Jose Theodore (who has played about 60% of the total minutes thus far) since opening night. Odd stat.
- How can I be so sure these guys don't base their effort on who's between the pipes? Did you watch Semin tonight?
Nicklas Backstrom has seemed a little off since being separated from Ovechkin, which is to be expected - everyone's going to look better when they're on a line with the best player on the planet. What isn't expected or acceptable was him coasting on the backcheck on the Weber goal. That's two games in a row where a lazy backcheck cost the Caps.
- Further to that first point, Mike Knuble is on pace for 51 assists, 20 better than his current career high. Dainius Zubrus and Chris Clark nod, knowingly - it's good to play with Ovi.
Mike Green has his good nights and his bad nights, and this was definitely one of the latter. Brian Pothier was no picnic on the blueline either.
- If the coach shortens the bench in the third and benches "the third line," doesn't that make it the fourth line?
- Not that it matters - the Caps still have only two goals from non-top six forwards and Green, and Matt Bradley has both of them.
- The third-period hooking call on Backstrom was abysmal, especially in light of the fact that he had, literally moments earlier, been interfered with by the man he "hooked" (Weber). I guess we shouldn't expect any better from Chris Rooney.
And so the Caps wrap up their three-game homestand having earned five of the six points available and don't play again until Thursday in Atlanta. That gives Bruce Boudreau plenty of time to send a message or two... should he choose to do so.