Semin Strikes Again; Caps Zap Lightning, 6-0

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courtesy of ‘bridgetds’
Alexander Semin owns the Tampa Bay Lightning. At the Verizon Center last night, Semin scored his second hat trick in as many games against the Lightning this season. It was Semin’s third hat trick of the year, and the Caps went on to crush the Lightning 6-0.

The Capitals’ defensive corps also had an outstanding game, even with Mike Green out of the lineup. Three defensemen – John Carlson, John Erskine and Tom Poti – scored for the Caps. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, the NHL scoring leader, was held off the score sheet for only the fourth time this season. “We pay a little more attention to him,” said Erskine. “Especially on the power play. We try to take him away a little, and it seemed to work tonight.” Tampa Bay mustered only 17 shots in the game.

The Caps got off to a quick start scoring just three minutes into the game. Marcus Johansson won an offensive zone faceoff back to Carlson who one-timed it over the shoulder of Tampa Bay netminder Mike Smith for a 1-0 lead. “We got our energy and the forecheck going in the first period,” said Matt Hendricks. “And we were able to move the puck through the neutral zone.”

The Caps spent nearly all of the first four minutes of the second period short-handed due to two minor penalties. The penalty kill was stellar (5-for-5 on the night), and the Caps carried that momentum off the PK into the very next shift. Erskine scored on a blast from the point that hit Tampa Bay goalie Smith on the shoulder, then bounced over him and dribbled into the net. It was Erskine’s 3rd goal of the season, matching his total for all of last year.

The Lightning surged, but Semyon Varlamov turned away everything they could throw at him to earn his fifth career shutout.
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‘Semyon Varlamov’
courtesy of ‘bridgetds’
Then Semin blew the game wide open, scoring a hat trick in less than five minutes of play. His first goal came on a 2-on-1 break. Johansson made a perfect pass to Semin over the outstretched stick of Tampa Bay defenseman Randy Jones. Semin wasted no time putting it into the back of the net with a quick snap shot.

His next two goals came on the power play. Alex Ovechkin started a tic-tac-toe passing sequence to Nicklas Backstrom on the right side. Backstrom tapped it across the slot to Semin alone in the right circle, where he slapped it into the goal to make it 4-0. That was the end of the evening for Smith. Dan Ellis came into the game and soon faced another Caps power play, this time a 5-on-3. Backstrom patiently waited for an opening, then saucered a pass through the slot to Semin, who settled the puck and scored from a tight angle. The hats came flying out onto the ice.

The Caps have been known to relinquish a lead recently. “The guys were determined in the third not to let this one get to a 6-2 or 6-3 game,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “We stifled them really well so they didn’t get a chance to come back.” Tom Poti put the game away and got another for the blue-liners on a wrist shot that floated like a knuckle ball through a screen of several players and fooled Ellis under his arm to make it 6-0.

The Caps next face Carolina at home Sunday at 5PM at the Verizon Center.

Will Packard

Will moved to DC 33 years ago to go to college and never left. By day he is the director of finance at an interactive marketing agency near Dupont Circle. When not hanging out at Kettler Iceplex or Verizon Center, he can often be found out rowing on the Potomac River or searching for the perfect burrito.

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