There are probably two candidates at this point in the season for “Best Game involving the Caps.” Both of those games also involved the Flyers (probably not a coincidence).
The Caps were able to avenge a 6-5 overtime loss at Wachovia Center three weeks ago with a thrilling 4-2 victory at the Phone Booth tonight.
“I think it was a fun game to watch and a fun game to play in,” Caps netminder Jose Theodore said.
Indeed, it was. It is games like tonight that make it a little easier to stomach when the Caps slog their way through wins against inferior opponents.
* Theodore was great again for the Caps. He stopped 41 shots, including 20 in a furiously-paced third period. There is no doubt who the team’s No. 1 goaltender is right now.
He is now 6-for-8 in his career on penalty shots after turning aside Darrell Powe in the third period. Theodore also boasts a .934 save percentage in his past five starts.
* Nicklas Backstrom had one point in his past six games, and went 7-for-25 in the faceoff circle two days ago. Well, the faceoffs still aren’t great (6-for-16 tonight), but he worked some magic after his team fell behind 2-0.
The “juggle the puck” assist as we’ll call it was spectacular. His power-play goal was critical, both in erasing an 0-for-14 streak and turning the momentum completely in the Caps favor.
For what it is worth, Backstrom said he has watched Tiger Woods “juggle” a golf ball on his commericals, but he doesn’t actually practice it with his hockey stick that much. Some guys are just more talented than others, I guess.
* Bruce Boudreau may or may not have been trying to keep the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin line away from Chris Pronger and John Stevens may or may not have cared about them keeping Pronger away from the kids.
That said, the Young Guns were all +3 tonight. Kimmo Timonen (who along with Braydon Coburn spent a lot of time on the ice against them) was a minus-3. Pronger played nearly 31 minutes and was only on for the empty-netter. Boudreau did a nice job keeping the top line away from him when possible.
* Keith Aucoin is entering the “Quintin Laing Zone” with Bruce Boudreau — the coach has had nothing but great things to say about the guy. He helped set up Backstrom’s power-play goal and is proving to be an effective energy guy for the Caps.
* Alex Ovechkin quietly (sort of? is that possible?) had two goals to retake the NHL lead tonight. He still filled up the box score with 5 shots, 13 attempts and 5 hits, including one big one on his old pal Mike Richards (who was the best player on the ice for the first 30 minutes).
* The Caps have five straight since a 2-2-2 start. The next three games are against the Thrashers, Islanders and Panthers. Caps have never won eight in a row under Boudreau. Just saying there is a chance is all.