Fitting that Semyon Varlamov was in goal last night as the Caps visited St. Louis. Across the ice was a remembered foe from last year’s aborted playoff run, goalie Jaroslav Halak. Traded over the summer by Montreal to a rebuilding Blues team, Halak has shown his new team that last year’s playoff stand in three separate series was not a fluke.
Nonetheless, the Caps came loaded for some personal revenge.
Coach Bruce Boudreau says he never mentioned Halak’s name in the locker room. “We didn’t have it on the board,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t care who was in the net. Last year was last year and we’re just looking forward to hopefully the rest of this year and see where it leads.” For sure, however, most every Caps player knew who they’d be facing on the ice. The question was, would the specter of April past derail a Caps team looking for their fourth win in a row?
Not a chance.
Nicklas Backstrom offered up a three point night in the Caps’ 4-1 victory; both goals coming in the third period. Linemates Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin each had an assist. Brooks Laich got the show started with a power play goal 8 minutes into the first period and Boyd Gordon popped in what would be the game-winner at the halfway mark of the second. Varlamov stood tall in net with 37 saves on his way to his fourth win in a row – riding the same streak as the Caps – and has only allowed 5 goals on 115 shots during that stretch. “I don’t concentrate on the winning streak,” the 22-year-old Russian goalie said through an interpreter to NHL.com. “I’ve been working as hard as I can and that’s what I’ve been doing since I got back.”
The Caps move on to Dallas, where recently acquired defenseman Scott Hannan makes his debut in a Caps uniform. Puck drops at 8:30 pm.