The Capitals got early goals from each of their dynamic duo of Swedish centers, then hung on for a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators last night at Verizon Center. Nicklas Backstrom scored a power play goal in the middle of the first period. Marcus Johansson lit the lamp with a nifty wrap-around three minutes later and the Caps looked like they were going to blow the doors off the Senators. But lackluster play by the Caps in the second and third periods allowed Ottawa to stay in the game.
The Senators took advantage of a failed clearing pass to score in the last minute of the first period. Even after losing Sergei Gonchar to an injury, the Senators kept the game close. Ottawa pressed hard right up to the final buzzer, swarming again and again, but couldn’t get the equalizer.
Unfortunately, it was not so much a case of the Senators playing a great game as, the Caps playing down to the level of the woeful Senators. The Caps took the foot of the gas and tried to coast home. However, a win adds two points to the standings, so it is hard to complain about the undefeated Caps.
Tomas Vokoun had a solid outing in net with 33 saves to earn the win. Vokoun has had two outstanding games in a row. With Michal Neuvirth nursing an injury, Vokoun will likely see a lot of ice time for the next few weeks.
With the win, the Caps remain undefeated at 4-0 for the season.
- The power play clicked: Backstrom’s goal was the first 5-on-4 power play goal this season. Great puck movement with three quick passes starting from mid boards, down behind the net, back in front, then cross ice to Backstrom for the one-timer.
- Is Marcus Johansson developing a signature move? Both of his goals this season have come on wrap-around moves.
- Alex Ovechkin is getting his groove back. All night he had a quick first step, solid hitting, a couple of steals, and was dangerous at both ends of a pass. He has only two points in four games, but is beginning to show signs of being his old self.
- Jason Chimera is a presence every time he moves into the offensive zone, forcing the opposing D to react to his speed.
- The Capitals repeatedly failed to carry the puck out of their own zone. They often seem surprised to see forecheckers coming at them. This is a problem even with the man advantage. On a first period Caps power play, Ottawa broke up center ice pass then set up in the Caps zone – when short-handed!
- Ottawa outshot the Caps 12-6 in the second period, and 34-26 for the game. This was after the Caps outshot Ottawa 14-8 in the first.
- Thomas Vokoun and the defense got their wires crossed. Several times he got the puck on his stick but then turned it over to the Senators. This will work it self out in a couple of months, but quicker teams will feast on these mistakes.
- Empty seats: The game was announced to be the 109th straight sellout, but there were hundreds of empty seats in the lower section. Hey, if you have season tickets and can’t make a Saturday night game, send them to us and we’ll find a grateful reader to go Rock the Red!
In case you missed it, the marching band from Freedom High School in Woodbridge put on a good show on F Street before the game:
Next game is here on Tuesday against the resurgent Florida Panthers. The puck drops at 7 p.m.