courtesy of ‘Dan4th’
In Canada, the big sport is ice hockey, and it doesn’t get any bigger than “Hockey Night in Canada” in Toronto. Think Monday Night Football in Dallas or Green Bay.
The Caps arrived in town to face the Maple Leafs after a couple of shaky road games and with a minor league goaltender. Alex Ovechkin, who loves a big stage – led the Caps to victory with a hat trick, and rookie goalie Braden Holtby stopped 36 shots as Washington defeated Toronto 4-1 on Saturday night.
None of Ovechkin’s goals were the type of highlight-reel material that Caps fans have come to expect from the Great 8. He scored on a tip in, a rebound, and an empty net. But the common thread was Ovi’s hustle, positioning and discipline – characteristics that are becoming the defining features of the 2011 Capitals. “It’s the only way we’re going to win,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “Grinding games out is what we’ve been doing lately. We’ll probably continue to do it. … It might not be the most exciting brand of hockey in the world, but everybody seems to like winning hockey these days, so that’s what we have to do.” Continue reading
It was almost a picture-perfect ending. Call-up Mathieu Perreault was having the game of his relatively short career as a Cap, the team was up 4-1 going into the third, and it looked as if the Caps were about to wipe out the bad taste of losing to the Thrashers and Stars over the last few days.
Then it all fell apart.
A three-goal third shifted the momentum to the Leafs and the pressure built as the clock ticked down. Goals by Tim Brent and Clarke MacArthur came in the last 2:30, dismantling a well-constructed lead by the home team. “Washington got a little sloppy toward the end,” Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “I think they thought the game was over but we kept on playing and took advantage of some of their miscues in their end.”
Goalie Michal Neuvirth staved off the Leafs in overtime and both he and the Leafs’ Jonas Gustavsson stood strong in the shootout, coming down to Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski, who snapped a backhand shot behind Neuvirth. Last night’s shootout win was the second in a row for the Leafs.
For much of the game, it looked to be the Mathieu Perreault show. Deflecting in a point shot from defenseman Tom Poti, who himself notched three assists on the night, Perreault was a bundle of energy on the ice from end to end. His second goal came as he skated in alone near the left circle and took in a tight Brooks Laich pass, pulled and hesitated just long enough to force Gustavsson to commit, then ripped it past the Leafs’ goalie. Any time Perreault touched the puck in the third period and beyond, the crowd got excited, expecting to celebrate yet another hat trick. Alas, it wasn’t to be.