WASHINGTON DC - JANUARY 16: Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Washington Capitals makes a save against Ryan Shannon #26 of the Ottawa Senators at the Verizon Center on January 16 2011 in Washington DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
When the Caps' much-publicized eight-game losing streak hit eight games, it was the Ottawa Senators who sought to push that number to nine. Twenty minutes in, Washington found themselves down 2-0 and seemingly well on their way to yet another loss. But two Mathieu Perreault goals and an Eric Fehr tally later, the streak was over.
On Sunday afternoon, the Sens were the desperate team, winners of just one of their last eight games, quickly fading out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and without two of their top four scorers from a season ago, Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev. The Caps may not have been quite as needy of a win, but had lost three in a row and four of their last five, continuing to doom themselves with slow starts and an impotent power play.
Something, as they say, had to give, and when Mike Fisher scored just 1:12 into the game and the Caps mustered just five first period shots, it looked like it might be the Caps. But strong goaltending and a third-period burst have the Caps back in the win column, similar to the last time they faced the team from Canada's capital city. The Ottawa Senators, it would seem, are good for what ails ya.
Ten more notes on the game:
Michal Neuvirth was solid in net, as he has been all season against Ottawa (Sunday's effort ran his 2010-11 line against the Sens to 3-0-0/1.63/.938), and even spectacular at times, including a brilliant blocker save on Filip Kuba who was looking to cash in on an ill-placed Neuvy rebound.
Brooks Laich notched the Caps' first goal (his first lamp lit since December 15 and only his second even-strength goal since November 9 - yes, you read that correctly), but two uncredited assists have to go to Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson for creating the pressure on the forecheck that force Chris Phillips to cough the puck up to Laich in the slot.
- Speaking of Johansson, he had another strong game that could have been another multi-goal effort had he deposited a couple of golden opportunities including a wide-open shot from about ten feet on top of the crease (set up by AO) that he somehow pushed wide of the net. Will he stick with Ovechkin, either as a center or a wing? We shall see, but there did seem to be some chemistry there.
- Seriously, how on earth do the Caps have the fewest goals in the NHL in the first period?
- We were going to have a note on how Jason Chimera had the most shots among NHL forwards with five or fewer goals (93), but then he went out and scored. So now, only Tampa's Adam Hall has more shots on goal and six or fewer goals among the League's forwards.
- I wonder if John Carlson dedicated his game-winner to . Get well soon, non-RAHJC.
- The Caps dominated the dot, winning 69% of the game's draws, including all five on special teams. That helps (see Carlson's goal).
- Either Jay Beagle is just about the only guy on the team who has been told that cross-ice dumps to empty corners are effective means of entering and establishing possession in the opponent's zone, or he's just about the only guy on the team listening.
- Mike Green got blown up by during the last minute of the game. Gotta keep your head up, Greenlife52 - that's how you get hurt. (And couple that hit with his defense on the Ottawa goal, and it was a rough afternoon for 52.)
- Not sure how Milan Michalek doesn't get kicked out of the game for his hit on Karl Alzner. At least King Karl got some revenge with a helper on the Chimmer goal (and, more importantly, with the win).
So it's off to Philly for a Tuesday tussle with Conference's best team, a true measuring-stick game if there ever was one. And it sure is better heading up there coming off a win instead of a four-game losing streak.