On the coldest night of the winter so far, Mike Green returned to the ice at Verizon Center warm Caps fans’ heart, as the Caps defeated the Flames, 3-1. Though he was not his usual sterling self throughout the game, with a little over 15 minutes of playing time, Green was back in action in the Red on Tuesday night in front of a a packed house happy to see him.
The Capitals struck early, with a power play goal in just the second minute of the night off a beautiful one-timer by Ovechkin, fed by Marcus Johansson, on a well-executed 2-on-1 after some strong neutral zone play. The neutral zone would be the focus of the first period, with the Caps transforming gradually into the Dale Hunter-lead team that fights hard in the neutral zone to maintain control of the game through the middle part of the ice. For the most part they’d succeed in pushing for possession battles outside of their own end. Ovechkin said post game, “Everybody’s buying into everything and working very hard. That’s the most important thing. No one is taking it easy.”
The single mistake the Flames made in the first would cost them, and they’d make it again in the second, and put the red hot Caps onto the power play again. Within just seconds, Troy Brouwer would push the Caps further ahead on a beautiful rebound from a slot shot by Nicky Backstrom. Nicky would collect his third assist of the night (he’s just sorta so-so at this hockey thing) eight minutes later on a behind the net sweep to Dennis Wideman, on a gorgeous play where Marcus Johansson took out Scott Hannan to sweep the defense out of position. The Capitals’ Power Play is finally hitting on all cylinders, collecting a pair of goals tonight, and notching four goals in three games.
Tomas Vokoun would stack up 17 saves, some impressive, some fairly pedestrian, and got lucky at least once thanks to our good friend, the post. His defense did him a number of favors by pushing the Flames back into the neutral zone on numerous occasions to keep the pressure off. “He’s a veteran goalie, he knows how to prepare when there’s not shots early. He came up with some big saves for us,” said Hunter after the game, praising the goalie who had a rough early part to the year.
Nicklas Backstrom was unavailable for media comment as he was being examined by team physicians after an elbow to the head from René Bourque of the Flames. Coach Dale Hunter said in the post game press conference that he wasn’t sure if Backstrom was taken to the Quiet Room for examination during the game. Hunter said that Backstrom’s status would be updated tomorrow after the skate.