Through two periods tonight, the Caps got a preview of what has to be one of their biggest fears come springtime: running into a red hot goalie. In the third, the rest of the League got a preview of what has to be one of their biggest collective fears come springtime: the Washington Capitals.
In the span of 2:30 early in the final stanza, each of the Caps' top three lines scored a goal to bust open a game that was tied at one apiece after the first forty minutes, with Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Michal Neuvirth combining to stop 58 of 60 shots on goal (34 of those saves belonging to the visiting Ducks' netminder). Game, set, match.
Ten more notes on the game:
- During the Comcast broadcast (sidenote: would it kill CSN to show replays of penalties?), Alan May credited an Alex Ovechkin hit on Bobby Ryan near the benches (pictured) for sparking the Caps, and it was certainly a big play, in no small part because it absolutely cleaned out a player who had been excessively chippy with Mike Green earlier. Leadership, baby.
- Alexander Semin now has four multi-goal efforts in his last 12 games played. Entering tonight's action, only 23 players had four multi-goal games on the season. What's amazing is how easy Semin is making it look out there. To paraphrase the Miller Lite ad, I lo... l... l... ahem... l... lo... love the way the Caps are playing right now.
- Since getting yanked in Florida two weeks ago, Michal Neuvirth is 2-0-0/1.29/.958, and was rock solid tonight (though he was victimized by a bad rebound). It's interesting to note that he is now just three starts short of Semyon Varlamov's NHL regular season total of 19.
Scott Niedermayer is an object of desire for many Caps fans... or at least he was before tonight. Granted, he played big minutes and was playing the second of back-to-back games, but he was abused by AO at the blueline on what turned into Mike Knuble's goal moments later and generally did not distinguish himself against the Caps' top trio.
- With Shaone Morrisonn scoring his first goal in 64 games (the game-winner, no less) one night after John Erskine scored his first since Jesus was in diapers, Jeff Schultz's 40-game drought is the current longest goal-less streak for the Caps (bet the house on him scoring Friday?). Mo now has five points in his last four games.
- Underrated play of the night: Tom Poti breaking up a 2-on-1 with a nice pokecheck after Erskine got caught up ice. Poti has now gone more than three-and-a-half games without being on the ice for a goal against, which is pretty impressive for a guy who's leading the team in shorthanded ice time and second among the defensmen in overall time on ice.
- It's a minor point, but that Boyd Gordon was able to play both games of this back-to-back is encouraging with respect to his health going forward, as he's a big reason that the Caps' penalty kill has been successful 20 of the last 21 times out.
- Along with the score and shots on goal, the Caps dominated the faceoff circle, winning 63% of the game's draws. Every single Cap who took a faceoff was above 50% for the night.
- Though he didn't find his way onto the scoresheet, it had to feel good for Brendan Morrison to beat the team for whom he struggled so mightily for the first two-thirds of last season. B-Mo already has as many points this year in 52 games as he had in 81 a season ago.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry mixed it up with Eric Fehr late in the game. Think they were talking about this?
So the streak hits a great eight. It doesn't matter who's in goal or which line is scoring or who's on the blueline - everything is working for the Caps right now, and the best part is, it doesn't even really feel as if this team is peaking. They're just taking care of business on a nightly basis. And that's got to have the rest of the League a bit nervous.