The Capitals tonight once again almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but pumped the brakes fast enough to pull out a victory at Verizon Center.
Once again, the Capitals tallied the first goal of the game as Nicklas Backstrom took a beautiful pass from Alex Semin on a 5-on-3 man advantage and buried it backdoor on Ryan Miller to put the Caps up at the 13 minute mark. The Capitals continued to press and dominated the Sabres in every facet of the game for the remainder of the period, and Matt Bradley was rewarded with another tally at the 17 minute mark, giving the Caps a 2-0 lead heading into the break. At the beginning of the 2nd period, Dave Steckel continued his recent stellar play and scored bar-down on Miller, extending the advantage to 3-0. Then the wheels came off for the Caps, as they allowed two goals in just under a minute, first on a Derek Roy power play strike and then a Jordan Leopold tally that was a product of an atrocious defensive breakdown by the Caps. With the capacity crowd at Verizon Center quieted, the Sabres blitzed the Caps for the rest of the 2nd period, with Michal Neuvirth having to come up with multiple huge stops to keep his team in the lead. In the third, the Caps rebounded nicely, and controlled the clock with crisp passing and good forechecks. Alex Semin closed out the scoring with a 180 foot empty netter with about 1.3 seconds left.
Marcus Johnansson was benched for the latter part of the third period, although Bruce Boudreau was pleased with his play. It is likely that Boudreau wanted to keep his faceoff specialists in the game, getting them minutes with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble. Boudreau would not comment as to who would pivot the top line next game.
Although he was held pointless, Ovechkin played much better this game. He looked rested and refreshed and finished his checks with authority. His feet were always moving, a nice change from the last couple of games. A solid game for the Great 8.
Karl Alzner is sneakily becoming really good. On a blue line full of offensive stars such as Mike Green and John Carlson, Alzner has stepped up his defensive play, using his size very well and blocking shots. He has also picked up three points over the last week. Maybe he can live up to his billing, after all.
Next game is in Atlanta on Friday. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 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!