In a battle between the two remaining undefeated teams in the NHL, you'd probably expect several things: great offensive performances, some strong defense and goaltending, special teams magic, and the chance to see a collection of some of the biggest names in the League on one ice sheet.
But if you were expecting the Caps to ruin a milestone night by putting up a seven-spot - and shut down some pretty flashy offensive talents to boot - you should go buy a lottery ticket. Immediately.
What the Caps did tonight was put together a performance that can give even the most jaded fan hope for a long run next spring, because it combined all the factors that could make this team great - offense, defense, goaltending and special teams. In short it was a dominant performance by the Caps, and a statement game if ever there was one.
Ten more notes on the game:
- It's quite a feat to put together a career spanning over two decades; it's quite another to do so as arguably the best at your position for the majority of that time. In a career for one of the greatest (if not the greatest) defensemen of all time, hitting Game #1500 is just one of a long list of accomplishments. It's somehow fitting that on this milestone night Nicklas Lidstrom would factor into the scoring for Detroit, assisting on their only goal...but we'd be lying if we said we were sorry the Caps ruined the celebration.
- Tomas Vokoun continues to be a dominant force in net for the Caps and with just the one goal given up tonight has now allowed just five goals in the four games since his debut. Tonight the score was as lopsided as it was in large part to some heroics early on in the game, including two huge stops on Pavel Datsyuk - one that needed a bit of luck, the other that was all talent - and he held strong as the Caps paraded to the penalty box in the second.
- Speaking of which, it was awfully kind of the refs to try and let the Red Wings back into the game in that middle frame. Four straight penalties, some more deserved than others, gave the Wings back-to-back two-man advantages to end the second period; that the Caps only gave up one goal over the course of those four penalties, and did so only while down two men, is a credit to the penalty killers and to Vokoun.
- Joel Ward's goal was the result of a nice passing play with Brooks Laich, but major credit should go to Laich for outmuscling Brad Stuart to make the cross-ice play. Just another day in the life of a hard-working third-liner, right?
- Down by only two after their extended power play time, there was plenty of game left for Detroit to get back into it. Enter Mathieu Perreault, whose dribbler of a goal with just over seven seconds left in the period was exactly what the Caps needed to regain the three-goal cushion and go into the locker room with the game well in hand.
- Marcus Johansson's eventual game-winner (his third of the season, by the way) was the result of some great play by his entire line and exactly the kind of thing we could all get used to seeing. Hard work by Mike Knuble to intercept a bad clearing attempt, a nice passing play from Knuble to Alexander Semin to Johansson and the beautiful finish of Johansson mere feet from the net.
- When the team is rolling, everyone's getting involved, and everyone was involved tonight as fourteen different players registered at least a point tonight - with all four lines chipping in at least a goal. Ain't nothing prettier than a balanced attack.
- With an assist on Mike Green's second goal, Dennis Wideman now has at least a point in every game this year. His presence has definitely had an impact on the power play, as bringing him in has allowed Boudreau to move Ovechkin off the point and into the slot where he's more effective and opens up more space...for a guy like Wideman to chip in on offense. See how that works?
- It's also opened things up for Mike Green, who took advantage in a big way tonight by picking up his second and third goals of the season - both on the power play. He also added two assists and played a hell of a defensive game to round out what has to be his best effort of the season so far.
- Green, Roman Hamrlik, Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward were tasked with the somewhat thankless job of attempting to shut down Detroit's intimidating (to put it mildly) top line - and at the end of the night, that top trio of Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg finished with a single assist (Datsyuk's, on the two-man advantage) and a minus-three rating. That's about as good as it gets right there.
- Coming into this game, Detroit had allowed just seven goals total on the season; the Caps doubled that number in one fell swoop...and with an efficient seven goals on just twenty-five shots, probably did a number on Ty Conklin's save percentage, as well.