The Capitals stormed back like stubborn cyclones after a lackluster first period, downing the Florida Panthers on Hockey Fights Cancer night in Washington.
Here's Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
Plus: Tom Wilson! TOM WILSON! You sour, surly beast, you. (More on him, later).
Minus: John Carlson looked lost and slow tonight, drifting and looping aimlessly, getting repeatedly burned along the boards, and making bad decisions with the puck. Bounce back soon, Johnny!
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1 It was Hockey Fights Cancer night in Washington, and the lavender warm-up jerseys rule. The Wish Kids joining the players for the national anthem and the ceremonial puck drop was just awesome. Good job, Caps.
2 Florida's Jared McCann scored just five minutes in the first period, coyly redirecting an Alex Petrovic shot like like an unwanted dinner invitation. "Oh, hey, let me get back to you on that," McCann said to the puck, and it tumbled dumbly past Braden Holtby to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
3 It was a tough first period defensively all around for the Capitals. They got outshot by the Panthers nearly 2-to-1, and both the normally-stalwart Oveckin-Backstrom-Williams line, and the typically fleet pairing of Carlson and Orlov, got exposed like nudists in a trench coat on a windy day.
4 The Caps porous lava rock-like defense in the first forced Braden Holtby to have to make nine saves including this one, where Holtby told a crashing Vincent Trocheck he couldn't have any dessert until he finished his SPLIT.
5 The second period was...shall we say, different. The Caps put 18 shots on net, dominated play, and generally strutted about the place like Mick Jagger wiping his feet. Roberto Luongo did everything he could to steal this game for the Panthers, though, recording 23 saves through just two periods, including robbing Nicklas Backstrom late in the second period from the cushioned seat of his substantial pants.
Luongo you dirty thief you get out of here, stealing from Nicky like that.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) November 6, 2016
6 Luongo couldn't stop them all, though, and like a sub-optimally effective bulletproof vest, let one shot in. The Capitals intercepted a pass in their defensive end and quickly roared back the other way up the ice. If you had "A gorgeous 2-on-1 where Ovechkin sets up his partner and Oshie finishes" in both your office pool and your fetish website search history, collect your prize.
7 The third period began tied, but not for long. Streaky-deaky freak Reilly Smith struck on the Florida power play, making the Caps pay for a rare (and therefore valuable) Marcus Johansson penalty. Smith smoked Matt Niskanen along the wall like a secret schoolyard cigarette. The video below is Niskanen, but it could easily have been John Carlson, who also looked horrendous on the right side.
Reilly Smith puts Panthers up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/z5fBuoEf5O— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 6, 2016
8 The third period proceeded quickly back and forth, prompting a correspondent next to me in the press box to say, "Wow, they're really picking it up now." Yes they were, Barbara. Yes they were. Within a span of five minutes, Alex Ovechkin deflected a point shot from Brooks Orpik for a goal, TJ Oshie beat Luongo so high top shelf Luongo had to go and get the step ladder to retrieve the puck, and Lars Eller emphatically said, "Denmark can help, too" when he tossed his second goal of the season on top of the pile. A game that had been 2-1 Panthers was suddenly 4-2 Capitals, and would stay that way until the final horn. A sexy, sexy, Washington win.
9 Part of the credit for tonight's victory goes to Tom Wilson, who was downright resurgent. On a line with Johansson and Kuznetsov officially, but often on the ice with Burakovsky by happy accident (or perhaps design), Wilson did exactly what Trotz loves "tough" power forwards to do: cause disruptions that create space for the scorers. At least three times I saw Tom Wilson create havoc for the express purpose of finding an open Andre Burakovsky with the pass. Good, good stuff, Tom. Witness the Wilsonaissance.
┳┻|— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) November 5, 2016
┻┳| •.•) You are witnessing
┳┻|⊂ﾉ the Wilsonaissance.
10 The Capitals put 36 shots on net tonight, which is how you win with brute force and volume. Shock and awe, baby.
Another two points for the home team, and the Capitals’ win streak is up to five games. Next up is the Sharks on Tuesday in DC!