Heading into Atlanta to face an Ilya Kovalchuk-less Thrashers team, it seemed there would be one of two scenarios. Either the Washington Capitals would get complacent and find themselves outworked by a team rallying around their fallen leader, or they would take advantage of the sniper's absence and put this one away easily.
Apparently there was also an option C - known as a little from the first option and a little from the second. Or something that we'll call...the Caps Special.
Ten more notes on the game:
- If you'd been told before the game that two Caps would be held without a shot all game, it probably wouldn't come as a shock that Chris Clark was one of them. It might come as slightly more of a shock that Alexander Semin was the other. And of course #28 threw in a couple of giveaways, just for good measure.
- There are times when Alex Ovechkin can take on the presence and demeanor of a shark circling the waters, tearing around the ice with single-minded determination to do nothing but attack. Hovering one goal shy of the hat trick, he had that look about him for long stretches tonight. No hat trick, sadly - he'll have to settle for merely having multi-goal games in half of his appearances.
- Ondrej Pavelec hasn't had the best of times against the Caps so far this year, but the save he made on Tomas Fleischmann in a one-goal game with just under two minutes remaining was pretty darn impressive.
- And at the other end of the rink, Semyon Varlamov came up with a good first period and a stopped penalty shot, a better second as the Thrashers started to wake up, and a fantastic third. Which is good, because it turns out that's exactly what the Caps needed him to do.
- Ovechkin's goals were scored on fairly ridiculous shots - but don't overlook the beauty of the passes that set him up, a shot fake by Mike Green and a heads-up saucer by Nicklas Backstrom.
- Hallelujah, folks...we've found an ice surface worse than Verizon.
- All five of the Thrashers' penalties were restraining infractions - hooking, holding, etc. - and four of the five came in the first forty minutes. You don't need much more proof that the Caps were simply too much for the Thrashers to handle early on. And two power play goals on five chances is nothing to sneeze at, either.
- Rough night in the faceoff dot for every Capital center not named David Steckel. Stecks? 13-for-18 (72%). The rest? 16-for-42 (38%). Yeah, that's a big ouch.
- The sheer number of shorthanded breakaways this team has given up in the last week or two is too high to count; thankfully the dynamic duo of Theodore and Varlamov have looked sharp on just about all of them.
- This is the second straight game that the Caps have given up 20 shots in the third period alone. Not sure how many more ways there are to say they simply took the foot off the pedal again.
But hey, it's a win, right? Brendan Morrison gave the Caps some secondary scoring (or did he?). Varlamov was stellar and has made his claim for the #1 spot (or has he?). The Caps have won six in a row and maintain their seven point lead in the Southeast (or...wait, yes, they have).
And yet, once again...it rings a little hollow.