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The Caps kicked off a week that will include Barry Trotz's return to Nashville with a bit of a homecoming as former Caps netminder (and reigning NHL second-star of the week) Semyon Varlamov and the Avalanche visited Verizon Center on Monday night. Varly and the Avs (but mostly Varly) came in hot, and the Caps... well, you know how good they've been. So it was hardly surprising to see the Caps get the better of the play, but be unable to pull away as Varlamov (and the iron behind him) gave the Avs a chance.
Ultimately Varlamov was outdueled by Braden Holtby and the Caps were able to hold on for a 2-1 win.
Monday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Home-ice advantage. The Caps entered the game having won five-straight at home to run their record in D.C. to 10-5-4. That's certainly not an impressive record overall, but in those five games, they'd outscored opponents 16-9. Make it 18-10 and six in-a-row.
- Minus: The Caps got outshot badly in the third period (18-6). It didn't cost them on this night... but that's not the way the Caps want to play it.
And now, this...
More notes on the game:
- Jay Beagle opened the scoring with a nifty backhand one-timer following a bit of a scramble in front after a Mike Green shot from the point. Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson picked up the helpers and, as RMNB pointed out, it was the first five-on-five goal that Wilson has been on-ice for this season without Alex Ovechkin.
- No team in the League has more wins when scoring first or fewer wins when allowing the first goal than the Caps. Even though the overwhelming majority of those games were tied up at some point after those first goals, it seems to matter to the Caps, especially at home, where they were 10-0-2 when scoring first and 0-5-2 when getting scored upon first. Make that 11-0-2.
- By the midway point of the second period, the Caps had beaten Varlamov clean at least four times... and rang iron three times - Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward in the first period, Ovechkin in the second (and Nicklas Backstrom would hit the post in the third). They were also up 19-9 in even-strength shots on goal... but still had just that one goal. Those missed opportunities always seem to come back to haunt a team, don't they?
- The Avs were able to tie the game up on the power-play midway through the second when Jarome Iginla was able to beat John Carlson (badly) wide and create a 2-on-1 down low. Holtby made an initial stop on Alex Tanguay, but had no help on the rebound and couldn't get to it. Bad breakdown by the Caps defense.
- By the way, Iginla and Tanguay combining on that goal must've reminded them of the good ol' days... when they finished 1-2, respectively, in scoring for the 2006-07 Flames.
- Late in the second period, Wilson went to the net and drew Varlamov's ire, as the latter gave the former a gloved shot to the face. [Sidenote: your joke isn't clever or funny, so don't bother.] On the ensuing power play, Marcus Johansson dug a puck out of the corner to Backstrom who was able to backhand it to Troy Brouwer for a nifty back-pass to Ovechkin who beat Varlamov to put the Caps up 2-1. And yeah, it was as pretty and precise as it sounds.
- Holtby was as good as he needed to be, particularly in that third period, when he stopped all 18 shots he faced.
On Monday night, the Caps did what good teams do - they beat a team they should beat at home (in a manner that was more convincing than the final score). Next up, a similar scenario on Wednesday night, when Philly comes calling.