Settling into one’s seat last night at the Verizon Center, one would wonder what roller coaster the Washington Capitals had planned next? Visiting the seven-game-streaking Caps were the Anaheim Ducks on a six game road trip. The Caps, fresh off a 7-2 blowout of the New York Islanders on Tuesday where seemingly everyone grabbed a point except captain Alex Ovechkin, were looking to lengthen their 19 point lead in the Southeast Conference and remain atop the East as the NHL drove towards the Olympic break.
Ovie had to have felt left out of the fun on Long Island and let it show early by burying the puck only 36 seconds into the game. A solid twelve minute run through the first period saw the Caps dominating in the Duck’s zone, racking up a 13-3 shots on goal advantage before Anaheim’s offense settled down. The Caps ended the period with a season-high matching 19 shots on goal, peppering Jean-Sebastien Giguere in spurts during his first game back in over two weeks.
The game settled down in the second; both Giguere and Michal Neuvirth had some terrific saves as both teams hammered into the zones. Dan Sexton managed to finally get one past Neuvirth and it looked as if the game would settle into a classic low-scoring goalie duel. But everything flipped in the span of less than three minutes as the third period unfolded.
Shaone Morrisonn’s shot early in the third deflected off Steve Eminger’s skate and slipped behind Giguere. As the Caps started announcing Morrisonn’s first goal of the season, Mike Knuble scored on the next shot – and when the announcer restarted the goal announcement, Alexander Semin buried one behind Giguere on a beautiful breakaway. And just like that, the Caps led 4-1. Considering the fact that the Caps are now averaging 3.83 goals a game – more than a half-goal better than any other team in the league at the moment – the sudden onslaught wasn’t entirely unexpected. It was just a matter of when, not how.
Semin’s second goal of the night during a 5 on 3 power play seemed almost anticlimactic in comparison. But it does speak volumes about the powerhouse offense the Caps have at their command. The 49 shots taken last night is a season high and the team is only two wins away from the franchise record 10-game winning streak, set back in the 1983-84 season. And with the torrent of goals erupting from nearly every player on the team – four of them with 50 or more points on the season – the Caps are on pace to become the NHL’s highest scoring team since the 1995-96 Penguins.
“The guys like what they’re doing, and they like winning,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “We talked about it in the dressing room in between periods; we’re going to go after them. We’ve got a good thing going. Let’s just take it right to ’em and see where it leads.”
Game summary, courtesy of the Washington Capitals.