They say you can't please everybody, and last night the Capitals seemed determined to prove the old adage wrong. Whether you view this team as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, the type of division leader who will get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, or a team that's been riding an inexplicably long lucky streak and has no business in the postseason, you could probably back your point pretty convincingly with a highlight reel comprised entirely of clips from last night's game. However, as they've done all season, the Caps came through when the chips were down, rebounding from a slow start and dominating the final frame, scoring three unanswered goals and outshooting the Islanders 22-9 and, in the process, proving yet again that these guys can look like the best team in the NHL. When they want to.
Some additional thoughts on last night's game:
- To further the point of the Capitals slow start: In the first period, the Capitals had one takeaway and nine giveaways; the Islanders had two giveaways and four takeaways. The Capitals registered six hits in the first - one more than Tim Jackman.
- Kudos to Mike Green for breaking the Capitals single-season record for powerplay goals by a defenseman and for reaching thirty goals. Green's only the eighth defenseman in NHL history to hit that milestone, and the first to do it since the 1992-93 season, when Kevin Hatcher tallied 34.
- Kudos, too, to Keith Aucoin (last night's hard hat recipient) for his first NHL goal in over a year, and kudos to Eric Fehr for the kind of forechecking it takes to create chances in the offensive zone.
- While we're at it, kudos to Jeff Schultz for fairing pretty well in his first NHL fight, and one against a guy who has 23 fights between the NHL and AHL this year alone. And while we're on the topic of Schultz's fight, did anyone else notice that when he came out of the penalty box Alexander Ovechkin stood up on the bench, banged his stick on the boards, and gave Sarge some words of encouragement?
- Why have the instigator rule on the book if you're not going to call it in cases like the John Erskine/Joel Rechlicz scrap from last night?
- Speaking of Erskine, we're big supporters of the defensemen getting pucks to the net and all, but getting three shots on net and having six either be blocked or miss the net isn't really getting the job done.
- Tom Poti's turnover that led the the Islanders first goal was just terrible. A guy who's been in the NHL for the better part of ten years ought to know you don't dump the puck softly up the middle. Especially when you have the kind of time.
- Along those same lines,
Tomas FleischmannMichael Nylander's turnover that led to Richard Park's goal wasn't any better. Nor was the turnover at the Capitals blue line Fleischmann committed later in the same period.
- Whether it's injury or illness or both, Alexander Semin did not look anywhere close to 100% last night, as his five giveaways and five missed shots will attest.
- We're not saying Mike Green's hit on Andy Hilbert didn't warrant a penalty (if anything, Green got off easy), but it was interesting to see Hilbert lying on the ice until the whistle was blown and then suddenly springing into action.
- Even at his age, Sergei Fedorov is great at finding open space and getting to it.
- Hit of the night goes to Mike Green for laying out Tim Jackman behind the Capitals net in the third. Looks like Schultz has Green's back and Green has Schultz's.
- Michael Nylander was a minus-one, with one shot on goal, no hits, no blocked shots, and three giveaways. Ouch.
- No Capital had more takeaways than giveaways.
- The Islanders had quite a disparity in shots - 23 of their 27 shots came from six players, while nine players failed to register a shot.
In the end, the Capitals walked away from last night with another two points to add to their season total which, given that the Devils lost to the Penguins and the impact in the standings, should be enough to tide fans over... for now.