With Eric Fehr definitely out of the lineup and Alexander Semin a "gametime decision" for the Caps on Tuesday night, to say nothing of the recent scoring struggles of the players who were going to pull on the red sweaters, one had to wonder from whence - or even if - the goal-scoring would come. The answer? The Caps would get all they needed... from Hershey.
Andrew Gordon scored his first NHL goal (and celebrated appropriately), Jay Beagle added his second, and the Caps were on their way to a 5-1 victory over the hapless Devils, who have now lost nine-straight away from home. Add in goals from a couple of secondary (maybe tertiary) scorers in Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera and one from the blueline, and yep, these are the Caps we're used to seeing.
Ten more notes on the game:
Bruce Boudreau gave Michal Neuvirth a third-straight start (and hinted that he'll get the next one, too), and the young Czech responded with a 35-save effort. Since the first period in Boston, Neuvy has allowed just three goals on 72 shots against in eight periods. The crease is his, for the time being.
John Carlson had a tremendous game - a bomb of a goal, a helper and a plus-four rating - but his goal was particularly noteworthy in that it evened the Caps at 69 goals for and against at even strength, and 66 goals for and against at five-on-five, an area in which they dominated the League last season, but have been in the middle of the pack to date this year.
- If Carlson wasn't the best Caps skater, Marcus Johansson was. MoJo had the puck on a string all night, and his set-up on the Gordon goal was sensational. That line (with , who showed off his wheels on a breakaway goal) was solid all night.
- Guess who was on the ice for the Devils' goal? That's right - Scott Hannan, who has now been on for 15 of the 28 goals the Caps have allowed since he first suited up. Oh, and he certainly wasn't an innocent bystander on this one, as he seemed lost for the better part of the penalty kill and gave Patrik Elias far too much space to tee up the slapper.
Scott Burnside asked aloud the other day, "what would [Martin] Brodeur's value be to a Cup-hungry Washington team that has two promising young goaltenders and a bevy of young prospects?" Yeah, not all that much.
- Kudos to Semin for suiting up, I suppose, but he had an awful game, turning pucks over, being far too cute at the offensive blueline, and taking a hooking penalty roughly four miles from his own net.
Karl Alzner was a quite plus-three on the night, and is now plus-six in his last four games. He and Carlson are really coming along... but you knew that.
- The Caps' power play continues to struggle (rather mightily), including failing to score on a 1:18 two-man advantage. They extra-man unit is now 3-for-32 over the last nine games. Time to turn that around, Mike Green.
- Chimera's goal snapped a streak of five-straight Caps tallies that traveled a combined total of maybe ten feet. That right there is love.
Matt Bradley skated his last shift of the night right around half-way through the game, leaving after taking a hard hit earlier in the period. Stay tuned.
The past two slump-bustin' wins for the Caps have come against relatively soft competition - neither the Senators nor the Devils look like they're headed to the playoffs this season. But wins are wins in this League, and you'll take 'em any way they come when they follow eight-straight losses. The Caps have some of their swagger back, and just in time - they've got a game of some import coming up on Thursday night.