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The last handful of games on the Caps' schedule features a slew of teams likely headed for the postseason... with the lone exception being tonight's opponents, the Hurricanes. But despite their relatively low spot in the standings, Carolina has always proven to be a tough opponent for the Caps, and they were just that again tonight, as the home team had to weather a second-period storm. But some timely secondary scoring, and a healthy dose of dull hockey in the third, helped wrap up a must-win for the Caps.
Here's Tuesday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Alex. Flipping. Ovechkin. We've told you why he's good. We've told you why he's a legend in the making. But if you've been watching him at all (and we know you have), no one needs to tell you anything, because that was goal #50 in the books yet again for the magnificent #8.
- Minus: The second period... or more accurately, the first 17 minutes of the second period. After taking a fairly easy 2-0 lead, it seemed as if the Caps felt they could just mail in the rest of the game - forgetting, of course, that the Hurricanes always seem to play them tough, and have been putting together some solid hockey down the stretch. The Caps took their collective feet off the gas, and Carolina was able to claw back into the game. Momentarily, but still.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Mike Green has been jumping up into the play of late and getting excellent chances on net. He also happens to possess a fantastic shot. Well, the latter wasn't exactly on display early in the first period, but what he did manage to do was enough, as what would have been a nice setup pass for Curtis Glencross instead ricocheted into the net off of Justin Faulk's stick to give the Caps a 1-0 lead, and Green his 8th goal of the season.
- Of course, if you wanted a pretty goal... enter Alex Ovechkin. 50 goals. Stud. 'nuff said.
- Ovechkin's goal was a big one for the captain, and for the team, but it may have also had the unfortunate side effect of making the Caps think this would be an easy win. When the two teams skated out for the second period, only one of them appeared ready to play. Call it score effects, call it a momentary lapse, it was a roughly 15-minute span in which the Caps were simply outworked by their opponent.
- The 'Canes comeback really got started thanks to the slick moves of an old friend, as Alexander Semin made a ridiculous play to absolutely undress Braden Holtby in front of the net and slide the puck past him... and off the far post, because that's just the kind of season it's been for Semin. It ended up paying off, though, as Nathan Gerbe collected the rebound to get Carolina on the board.
- Five minutes later, it was another familiar face - albeit one associated with less pleasant memories - as Eric Staal was left all alone on the side of the net to cash in on a nice cross-ice pass from Chris Terry. Bit of a lapse by Tom Wilson... which doesn't undo all of the good stuff he's been doing lately, but rather just reminds us that he's still young and that kind of thing is going to happen from time to time.
- Nice job by the Caps to rebound from what was a pretty woeful start (and middle) of the second period and take back the game. And it all started with the guy who got the offense going tonight, as Green did a great job of muscling his man to the wall in the neutral zone and forcing a turnover, which ended up on the stick of Jason Chimera. Correction, on the stick of a red-hot Jason Chimera, who made a beautiful backhand pass to set up Brooks Laich in front of the net.
- Speaking of beautiful passes, the dish from Ovechkin - through three Carolina defenders - was a fairly impressive one (as was the foresight by Joel Ward to get his stick down and tap it home). One-trick pony? Not this guy.
- And how about this stat, courtesy of our own J.P.:
- Tonight marked just the second time this season (and the first time since November 15) that the Caps' power play was confined to the bench... but sure, that slashing penalty by Evgeny Kuznetsov was a totally valid call. Definitely. Absolutely. Uh huh.
- This was a must-win for the Caps, and the way the Caps played the third period, you got the sense that they were trying to lull the 'Canes to sleep in order to do so. It pretty much worked, too, as the two teams combined for a grand total of six shots in the final frame, with just one of those coming off of the stick of a Capital - but the final score would hold, and that's what mattered.
Ovi likes to make a splash, too - in the six games in which he's scored his 50th of the season, he has 17 points (!) #50vechkin— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) April 1, 2015
So a wild start + a back-and-forth second + a sleepy third = two points? We'll take that math. Because the remainder of the Caps' regular season slate will be a tough one, and those points may end up being huge as they make a push to the playoffs.
And now, this...