Capitals-Panthers recap

Another day, another one-goal victory for the Capitals and they leapfrog ahead of Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast Division. I could definitely see these two teams trading first place for the next couple of weeks, especially since the Caps have a game against Tampa tomorrow night. A lot of statisticians measure team’s win totals by “true victories” which are ones decided by more than one-goal. All four of the Caps wins have been by one goal and two were decided in OT including tonight’s game. I’ll look into this later but as it stands right now, the Caps are in first place and have a huge game against the Bolts tomorrow to see if they can retain it. Did they dominate this game? No. Did they play bad? Not at all.

The two teams started off trading scoring chances before the Capitals took advantage late in the 1st and for most of the 2nd to take a 2-1 lead into the 3rd. It looked like they were going to coast away with a win until John Erskine was called for a tripping penalty and Dennis Wideman took a slashing penalty. Florida’s David Booth then converted on the 5-on-3 to tie the game with less than 4 minutes left. Alexander Semin then ended things quickly as he scored 48 minutes into overtime on a 3-on-2 rush with Marcus Johansson and John Carlson. Ugly win and we will take the two points but if the Caps want to stay in first place, they will need to play a lot better than this against Tampa Bay tomorrow.

Notes/Observations

– Why is it that Jason Garrison and Mike Weaver look 10 times better when they play Washington than any other times I see them? Weaver always seems to have Ovechkin positioned perfectly and never allows him to get any space and Garrison never lets any of our players get in front of the net. I haven’t seen these two do this to any other teams besides us but that might have to do with me not watching a lot of full Panthers games.

– Rough game for Dennis Wideman. In the first period, made a ill-advised pass at the blue line which was blocked and then led to a 2-on-1 and Florida’s first goal. It probably didn’t help that he fell down after giving the puck away.His slashing penalty also made the Caps kill off a 5-on-3, which the Panthers converted on.

– Semin’s game winning goal came on his only shot of the game. In fact, it was the only shot the Laich-Arnott-Semin line generated all game.

– Michal Neuvirth had to be sharp for the Caps to stay in the game early as he stopped 15 of 16 shots in the first period. The Caps could only generate 6 shots on net in that period and they were all from the first line. He also had a great glove save on Marty Reasoner in the last minute to save the Caps at least a point. I was a little surprised that Boudreau’s letting Neuvirth starting back-to-back games since Braden Holtby is healthy now.

– Jeff Schultz must be hurt because that has to be the only reason he was scratched in favor of Tyler Sloan. Sloan had a very…..Sloan-esque game. Him and Erskine gave up numerous chances and I never want to see him take a shift for over a 1 minute again. Never. He will also probably hear from Colin Campbell about his head shot on Darcy Hordichuk, too.

– Keaton Ellerby made one hell of a dive to sell that tripping call on John Erskine which set up the Panthers powerplay that led to the game-tying goal.

– Solid game for Boyd Gordon after a tough month of February. Worked well on the PK, blocked four shots and banged home a Scott Clemmensen rebound for his second goal of the season.

– I really want to see what Pete DeBoar can do with a more talented roster because his Panthers teams are always competing despite the severe lack of talent.

– That pass Ovechkin made to set up Backstrom’s goal was more what I expected to see from the duo this year. The first line was outstanding tonight, especially in the first period as they created the most chances for us and Backstrom was great on the faceoff-circle, as well. If only the second line showed up then this wouldn’t have gone to OT.

Like I said, I’m glad we got the win but let’s hope we can stay in first place after tomorrow.

Three Stars:

1. Michal Neuvirth

2. Boyd Gordon

3. David Booth

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