The Caps again rode stellar play by Alexander Semin to a victory over the Lightning tonight, recording a 6-3 decision. Semin had five points, including the game winner among his third period hat trick.
Once again, the Caps fell behind early and conceded the first goal of the game to Teddy Purcell, who drove the net and cashed a rebound halfway through the first frame. Early in the second, Tom Poti, playing in his first contest in over two weeks, potted a Semin rebound to tie the score before Mike Knuble scored again, this time on a nifty backhand from behind the goal line, and the second period ended with the Caps up 2-1. But the Lightning would not go away, finding their equalizer on a power play off the stick of Ryan Malone. The Caps continued to press, and scored sixteen seconds into their only power play of the game, as Backstrom found Semin alone in the slot, who calmly ripped a wrister top corner on Dan Ellis. Semin struck again four minutes later, again found alone in the slot by Nicklas Backstrom, ripping a one-timer past Ellis. Two minutes later, the inevitable happened, as superstar Steven Stamkos tucked a snapshot under Michal Neuvirth's crossbar to cut the deficit to one. Just three minutes later however, Alex Ovechkin collected took a feed from Semin and scored a goal of his own on a low wrist shot to all but secure the victory for the Caps. With Ellis pulled, Semin scored a ninety foot goal to net his hat-trick late in the contest, closing the scoring.
Bruce Boudreau decided to re-unite the super line of Ovie, Sasha, and Backy about halfway through the second period, and man did it pay off. Mike Knuble is also showing good chemistry with Brooks Laich and Tom Fleischmann, so look for these lines to stick for at least the next couple of games.
Boyd Gordon only skated 1:27 and did not return after the first period, apparently injuring his foot or ankle during an icing race. Tough blow for Gordo and the Caps, who will now rely on David Steckel as their top faceoff man. No knock on Stecks, but Gordon is key to the Caps' success in the circle just as much, if not more.
Nick Backstrom had another great game. Four assists, two blocks, almost two minutes of shorthanded ice time. He is really starting to find his groove and is putting his name into the top four or five overall players in the NHL with his continued defensive improvement along with his gaudy offensive stats.
That's all for now. Next game is Saturday in Buffalo against the struggling Sabres, who are still without Vezina winner Ryan Miller. Game time is scheduled for 7 P.M.
Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!