You could pick one of any number of cliches - it was a tale of three periods, a win’s a win, the Capitals are taking it one game at a time. OK, maybe the last one isn’t so apt here, but the first two certainly apply as the Caps dominate for two periods, get outplayed in the third and earn the second point by beating the Predators in the shootout.
The shot total tells the story, as the Caps were up 26-11 after two periods but finished the night with just a 32-26 advantage. Bruce Boudreau and a few players cited the penalties the Caps took in the third as one of the reasons they were in the defensive zone so much. For the record, they took three penalties in the period, but goalie Jose Theodore kept his team in it.
After letting in two goals on limited opportunities, Theodore ratcheted his game up in the third.
“I thought the more the shots came, the more he was getting in a zone. And that’s what you need,” Boudreau said. “When we needed him in the third period, he came to the forefront.”
Added Theodore: “Every time you have [11 shots against] after two periods, I think I would be lying if I said you feel on top of your game. … In the third, I felt really good. They needed a really fluky goal to get one past me.”
It was an odd goal. Defenseman Ryan Suter’s shot from the point hit Theodore, bounced in front and deflected in off the skate of Predators captain Jason Arnott for Arnott’s second of the night.
But all that was absolved as Theodore stopped three of the four shots he faced in the shootout.
Alexander Semin was the first star of the game with a goal, an assist, plus a goal in the shootout. With Alex Ovechkin in Russia to be with his ailing grandfather, Semin has continued his torrid pace and led the league in goals (eight) and points (16) when the Caps’ game was over. Evgeni Malkin (14 points) was playing in San Jose late Tuesday night.
The Caps are 9-0-1 in their last 10 regular-season games at Verizon Center - and Brooks Laich knows how important that stat is.
“We wanna let people know that the Verizon Center is a tough place to play,” Laich said. “We dont’ wanna lose any hockey games here. And whether it’s by an inch or a mile, we got it done in the shootout tonight, something we haven’t had a lot of success in.”
- Stephen Whyno