With the five forwards whose top-six status is set in stone, the putative #1a and #1b goalies, and the Norris finalist all back in D.C., the Washington Capitals didn't stand much of a chance, it would seem, against what closely resembled last year's Western Conference runner-up Chicago Blackhawks team.
And yet, with firepower that's headed to Hershey and the Caps' third and fourth lines (more or less), the visitors beat their old buddy Cristobal Huet in front of a huge crowd of 19,374 in the Windy City.
Ten notes on the game:
- Mathieu Perreault scored the game-winner (pictured) by going hard to the net, something the Caps were doing a lot of in overtime. Novel idea. Perreault also had a great forechecking shift at four-on-four earlier.
- Kyle Wilson was probably the Caps' best forward on the night, putting six shots on goal, assiting on the Caps' first tally and scoring the game-tying marker late in the third. And he did it all in just 12:33 of ice time (which also included both 'Hawks goals). Of Perreault and Wilson, Bruce Boudreau said they "showed tonight that they can skate and play at this level if we need them."
- Chris Clark also looked very good, notching a goal and a helper. His wheels are back and his hands are getting there.
- If Semyon Varlamov had Michal Neuvirth's glove... man. Neuvirth was a little shaky early, but settled down and was stellar when he needed to be. His style - efficient, quiet, etc. - is such a contrast from Varly's.
Brooks Laich rang iron twice. Get 'em out of your system now, Brooksie.
- Milan Jurcina had a plus-two rating, three blocks, three hits, and seven total shots (on goal, missed and blocked). The Bob Woods effect?
- Brian Pothier has had better nights.
- So has the team, discipline-wise, with three high-sticking penalties (including an Alexandre Giroux double-minor), a hook and a hold. On the plus-side, the penalty kill was very good, going six-for-six.
- Besides that double-minor (in the offensive zone, no less), Giroux registered just one shot on goal in just under 15 minutes of ice time. Notably, he only saw 0:46 on the power play, 12th on the team.
Tom Poti played 26:07 and was plus-two. Solid. Ready to go.
The Caps will return home for Monday night's Verizon Center kickoff against the Sabres with two wins under their collective belt - one for Varly, one for Neuvy. Your turn, Jose.