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The Caps and Blue Jackets have been Metropolitan Division rivals for a little over a year now, but it's probably safe to say that the intensity between the two hasn't quite reached the same level as that shared by some of the other Metro inhabitants.
...that may not be the case any longer. After a crazy, physical, back-and-forth game - and the second-straight meeting between the teams to require extra time - this may have the makings of turning into a nice little rivalry.
A few more notes on the game:
- Anyone who says Alex Ovechkin doesn't play defense need only watch his sliding move to force a Columbus attacker to the back wall in the first period. They can watch that and say... okay, yeah, he really doesn't play defense. Not well, at least. But it worked, and that's all that matters.
- You'd be hard-pressed to find someone better at snagging loose pucks and forcing turnovers in the offensive zone than Eric Fehr - and he was at it again tonight, pressuring Jack Skille as the Blue Jackets attempted to clear the zone in the first period. Fehr was able to get the Caps back on the attack by forcing Skille to cough up the puck, and then set up Joel Ward for the game's opening tally. Nice work all around.
- Remember last game, when Jason Chimera took that ill-timed penalty in overtime, eventually leading to a Columbus power-play goal and followed by a seat in the pressbox for #25? If you don't, you can be sure he does, and it must have felt pretty good to put the Caps up by two in the dying seconds of the opening frame. And that pass from Michael Latta... wowza.
- The last time these two teams faced each other, the Caps' power play went awry, registering just one goal on six power-play chances and a big part of their eventual overtime loss a week ago. So after a week of practice and video sessions, they were prepared to make amends in the rematch, right? Wrong. This time around they squandered all of their time with the extra man... although granted, they only had three power plays tonight (and looked much better on all of them than a week ago).
- Things weren't much better on the other side of the special teams battle, as the Caps allowed the Blue Jackets back in the game by way of back-to-back power-play goals in the second period. If you're not going to score with the extra man, you need to at least keep the other team from doing so, and the Caps were unsuccessful. The only saving grace this time around? None in overtime. Hooray!
- After the Blue Jackets tied things up at two in the second period, the game started to unravel a bit, with a series of fights and general nonsense that led to a parade to the penalty box. First Tom Wilson (unwisely) dropped the mitts with Dalton Prout; that was followed by Michael Latta taking on Jared Boll, noted goon Troy Brouwer going toe to toe with Michael Chaput, and then a series of big hits, post-whistle scrums, and John Carlson with a dumb retaliatory penalty...all leading up to a standing-room only penalty box. Division rivalry!1!1!!
- The Caps did a good job of controlling the play in the first period, outshooting the Blue Jackets 15-5, outchancing them 8-0, and outscoring them 2-0. But we know this Caps team, and we know this Columbus team - so it wasn't that surprising (albeit no less annoying) to see that early trend reversed in the second, with the Caps outshot 10-6 and outscored 2-0. It would all come down to the third period...
- ...which didn't start off great, as the Jackets took the lead for the first time less than a minute into the final frame. It got better a few minutes later, though, when Karl Alzner decided he was going to channel his inner Mike Green and pull out some deeply-hidden moves to tie the game up all over again. And then it was bad again, when Chaput put the Jackets up by one with less than five minutes to go in regulation - his first-career goal, and the nail in the coffin... or not. Because there was Mike Green with the puck, channeling his inner Karl Alzner and setting up Troy Brouwer (or more accurately Troy Brouwer's skate) for the game-tying goal less than two minutes later.
- Just like last time, this one needed extra time - but the ending of this story was different, because Mike Green is really good at hockey and so is Eric Fehr. And Alex Ovechkin is good at hugs.
It was a wild one, filled with physicality and pretty plays and ugly goals and regrettable blown leads and awesome comebacks. But most importantly, it ended with an overtime game-winner, an important two points in the standings, and the Caps' 15th win of the season.
- Plus: Karl Alzner. Not entirely sure where he got those moves, but Alzner made a hell of a play to tie the game up at three in the third after setting up the game's first goal back in the first. Quite an offensive explosion for a guy who had just 67 points in his career coming into tonight. Tonight was just the third multipoint game of his career (although it was his second in this calendar year).
- Bonus Plus: Mike Green. How beautiful was his assist to set up the game-tying goal late in the third period? That was old-school Green, and only topped by the assist he picked up on the game-winning goal.
- Minus:The entire second period. Not only did the Caps blow a two-goal lead (ugh), with both goals being scored on the power play (double ugh), but they also allowed themselves to be sucked into a free-for-all of punches and post-whistles scrums and bad, bad penalties.
And now, this...