The Capitals needed a big win Wednesday. Hell, the Caps needed to score a goal on the road Wednesday after being shut out in their last two games away from Washington. They got three of them, but none bigger than Brooks Laich’s deflection on the power play with just under eight minutes remaining in the third period in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Nicklas Backstrom added two and came very close to his first regular season hat trick (which was shoved down our collective throats by Joe B.). In honor of Thanksgiving, let’s call this a cornucopia of Capital goodness.
- If there is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the Capitals, it’s Semyon Varlamov. In his first start in over a month and first start against a team that is not the Boston Bruins, Varly stopped 30 of 32 shots (.938 SV%) and made some game-changing stops (Michael Cole would call that “Vintage Varly“) to keep the Caps from completely folding. Just last week, Varlamov was in Hershey with a 3.36 GAA and .885 SV%. As long as the game-stealing Varlamov returns to the crease for the Capitals, welcome back, kid.
- A hearty “welcome back” should also be given to one Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin had three assists, 10 shots on goal and finished plus-2. Ovi struggled through his past six games (he had as many points tonight as he did in those six games), but like Varlamov, returned to form Wednesday.
- Perhaps Ovechkin’s revitalization came from a change of scenery. Even with all of the consistent (there’s that word again) line changes, Ovechkin stayed stagnant on the left side of the first line. Tonight. Ovechkin found himself on the right side of Laich and Backstrom. 21-19-8 finished with three goals and three assists. That could be a lock for a first line.
- Remember when we claimed that the Capitals redefined the concept of an “inferiority complex” and had no killer instinct? Well, they almost had it tonight. The first 40 minutes were as close to perfect as perfect could be. Then the bottom dropped out in the first 10 minutes of the third period. After Eric Staal scored to tie the game, the Capitals went on two power plays. Only five seconds into the second one, Ovechkin fired a shot that Laich tipped in. The Caps knew they had to end the game there and wasted no time. The last seven minutes saw the Capitals playing simple, puck-dumping defense and throwing themselves in front of the pucks that did get by them. It’s not quite the killer instinct, but it’s a start.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. We are thankful for all of you who make doing this worthwhile. Be merry. And eat. A lot.