Well tonight at Verizon Center, we once again witnessed the Cardiac Kids play three energized periods of ice hockey against those pesky guys from North Carolina. In what has become typical Caps 2008-2009 NHL season, the Caps fell behind 1-0 to start the game. At 2:59 of the first Scott Walker deflected a shot by Josef Melichar past Johnson. It was the fourth time this season the Capitals allowed a goal on their opponent's first shot. The first period ended with the Caps trailing the Hurricanes 1-0, shortly after Donald Brashear put a solid beatdown on Hurricane's defenseman Wade Brookbank and both left the ice with a five minute major for fighting at the 16:45 mark of the stanza.
The second period started out as the first period ended, a back and forth affair with the Caps turning up the tempo a notch in a fair effort to take control of the game. The Ovechkin - Federov - Semin line was fairly dominant whenever they were on the ice and the 2nd and 3rd lines held their own and more at times. At 3:05 of the second, Sergei Fedorov tied it, taking a lead pass from Alex Ovechkin on the fly and lifting the puck over Ward's right shoulder. However, the Hurricanes countered at 12:13, Tuom0 Ruutu skated in from the blue line and fired the puck between Johnson's legs, shortly after the Canes had successfully killed off a Caps power play. Once again the Caps ended the period trailing by a goal.
The third period was all Washington Capitals once they successfully killed off a 5-3 power play by the Hurricanes that ended at the 3:26 mark and transitioned to a 4-4 at 3:40 when Rod Brind'Amor was whistled off for slashing. In another point of note, tonight's game was one of the few this season where the Caps played very disciplined hockey and had fewer minor penalties then their competition. The Caps took three (3) minor penalties while the Hurricanes took four (4). However both teams penalty killing units and goaltending while penalty killing were perfect and no extra man situations resulted in goals. While the Caps clearly seemed to "want it more" then the Hurricanes in the third period, they did not tie the game until the 17:17 mark. As has been the case most often this season, the Caps goal scorer was Alexander Semin. Semin tied it by scoring from close range with 2:43 to go after being fed the puck by Ovechkin. Then with time running out Semin got his second goal to propel the Caps to victory and deny their division rivals any standings points at the 19:49 mark by ending a rush toward the net with a wrist shot from inside the right circle that beat Cam Ward. Both of Semin's goals were excellent to watch from Section 103 ---SWEET!
Summary of good points from tonight's game. 1) Brent Johnson, despite probably wanting the first goal back was solid again stopping 32 of 34 Hurricane shots for a save percentage of 0.941; for his efforts Johnnie got a W and the third star of the game. 2) Alexander Semin continued November where he left off in October. Semin now has 10 goals and 19 points in 12 games. For his two clutch goals, Semin earned the first star of the game. 3) While once again failing to score a goal, Alexander Ovechkin was a force on the ice and in the Caps offense - he had 3 primary assists, in addition to seven (7) hits to grab the second star of the game. 4) Even though he was on the ice for both Hurricane goals and finished +/- -2, John Erskine looked very mobile and looked solid through the entire game, he had 21 shifts and 15:59 TOI. During his ice time tonight, Erskine took 3 shots, made 5 hits and had 2 blocked shots. 5) Except for Brooks Laich who was 3 for 7, every Cap to go into the faceoff circle tonight won more than 50% of their draws. Sergei Federov led the way in this category with a 79% faceoff win rate going 11 for 14.
Not so good things about tonight: 1) The Caps yielded a goal on the first shot of the game again. 2) The Caps got into situations where they had to play from behind much of the game. 3) Playing in his 300th NHL game, Washington's Shaone Morrisonn left after the first period with a groin injury.
Well hopefully this is the beginning of a trend since tonight the Caps "wanted it more" and showed it in their play. Even though the Hurricanes out shot the Caps 34-33; the Caps otherwise outplayed the Canes in virtually every other aspect of the game. The Caps outhit the Canes 21-19 and won 35 of 55 faceoffs. Next up the New York Rangers at Verizon on Saturday.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!