Also despite outplaying the Wild from the 10:00 mark of the first period, the Caps gave up the first goal to the Wild's Cal Clutterbuck at 1:31 of the second period and trailed until at 5:35 of that stanza Mike Green got his third goal of the season when he poked a nice feed from Tomas Fleischmann through Harding's Five Hole on the power play. The second period ended with the score knotted at 1-1 despite the Capitals out shooting the Wild 31-16 up to that point of the game. However, when the third period opened, the Caps came out determined to press their advantage and take the lead. That occurred at the 2:00 mark when Brian Pothier joined the rush, as he had several times earlier during the night. Pothier got a pass from Mathieu Perreault (as one of my neighbors in 103 calls him - "The Energizer Bunny") and put a nice wrister past Harding's stick side low for his second goal of the season to put the Capitals up 2-1. The Caps continued to play clean, driven hockey for the remainder of the period staying out of the "Sin Bin" for the entirety of the third period and keeping the Wild off the board. There were a couple of Wild scoring chances during the third period where Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov earned his pay for the night, in fact Varly ended the evening with a solid "W" having stopped 29 of 30 and a SV% of 0.967. However Varly's excellent performance was apparently eclipsed in the eyes of the Mainstream Media present who voted Wild Goaltender Josh Harding the evening's first star. To be sure Harding deserved one of the night's stars having stopped 38 of the 40 shots he faced (a SV% of 0.950 for the night) and was the best Wild player on the ice last night but the first star? to an opposing goalie who let up two goals in a loosing effort? and statistically wasn't the best goaltender on the ice for the game?
To follow up again to the Semin haters out there - last night the "other Alex" again had a solid night. Despite being kept off the scoreboard for the night, because he spent the night with virtually always one, usually two, and at times as many as three Wild players draped on his back, he finished his night +1, got four good shots, drew a penalty when Nick Schultz felt forced to trip him during the first period to keep him away from the play, and he stayed out of the box. Semin also played 1:27 on the PK unit and as I've mentioned before i always feel having him out there a couple of times a game helps keep him more mindful of his defensive responsibilities for the rest of the game. Last night he played really smart hockey and made a few sick moves. On all four of his shots on goal, Harding had to earn his pay. I'm certainly happier having Semin on our roster for $4M then I would have been having Martin Havlat for $5M. Havlat despite getting 8 of the Wild's 30 shots on goal just didn't seem to be all that noticable or a threat often last night; to be sure the Caps kept aware of where he was but they sure didn't seem to feel the need to hang all over him like the Wild did Semin.
Other Capitals notables last night: Brian Pothier of course the second star of the game, Potsy had a goal, 2 hits and 3 blocked shots in 19:24 TOI. Tomas Fleischmann had an assist, and was even on the night in 18:35 TOI. John Erskine was +1, and had 3 hits and 2 shots on goal in 18:10 TOI. Brooks Laich had an empty net goal, was 60% (3 of 5) in the faceoff circle, and had 5 shots on goal in 20:23 TOI. David Steckel was a beast in the face off circle taking 15 of 18 (83%) of his draws and had 4 SOG, 1 A/B, 2 hits and 1 takeaway in 13:15 TOI. Quintin Laing had a great night finishing +1, 1 SOG, 1 A/B, 2 missed attempts, 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 13:08 TOI. Mike Green who scored his 3rd goal of the year in 20:21 TOI had a solid outing as well. Overall it was a well played game all around and good prep for tonight's game against the Devils in New Jersey.
Looking towards tonight, back to backs are always tough and back to backs against two solid defensive teams are even tougher. OV had been listed as a game time decision, but just a short time ago Tarik indicated that he would miss his sixth game tonight but will likely return for Tuesdays game against the Rangers; and after last night's game the Caps announced Mike Knuble will be out 4 weeks or more with a broken finger. Tonight's game in Newark will be a real test for the Caps but they have to feel driven given the last time the two teams met in NJ, the Devils handed the Caps a no point night.
LETS GO CAPS!!!