If you didn’t watch tonight’s game, I’ll let Brooks Laich sum it up for you:
“Everyone is going to be talking about [Alex] Ovechkin’s return, but I think we should scrap that headline,” Laich said. “Tonight’s game was about Matt Bradley and Quintin Laing.”
Yep, that sums it up — and we’re not done hearing from Mr. Laich yet, who was en fuego with the soundbytes after this 3-2 win here at Madison Square Garden.
So yes, Alex Ovechkin returned for the Caps and yes, he scored his 15th goal of the season, but Matt Bradley stole the show tonight. Several of his teammates and his coach felt Bradley turned the momentum of this game with a fight in the first period. Bradley came away from that fight bloody and needing stitches.
All he did was come back and score the game-winner late in the third period with a nearly end-to-end rush and perfect shot under the crossbar to beat one of the five best goalies in the world.
More from Laich now …
“He gets it all started. We have tremendous respect for what he does and he’s one of the most-liked guys on this hockey team,” Laich said. “He goes out there and fights a guy that is bigger than him and takes punches for the team.
“He could have shut it down, but he came back and scored a huge goal in the third period. Everyone is going to be talking about Ovechkin’s return, but I think we should scrap that headline. Tonight’s game was about Matt Bradley and Quintin Laing.”
Why Quintin Laing? Well, all he did was lay down in front of a shot … and take it off his jaw. Bruce Boudreau said Laing will stay here overnight for observation, but thought Laing’s jaw is probably broken.
You could fill a book with the trails Laing has faced the past couple of years and the courage he displays, but I think Mr. Laich has some thoughts to sum it up:
“I haven’t seen stuff like that in a long time,” Laich said. “Quintin Laing blocks one with his face — it is humbling. Guys are blown away in the locker room — just a tremendous amount of respect for that guy.
“The Ovechkins, the Backstroms and the Greens are the backbone of this team, but the Bradleys and the Laings — those guys are the guts and that’s why we win.”
Bradley certainly has Henrik Lundqvist’s number right now. He had two goals to start Game 5 here as well. As for the fight, Bradley said he wasn’t sure if it was Aaron Voros’ fist or his own helmet that cut him open, but said there were a lot of punches thrown by both guys (I agree).
“It was no big deal. I regularly bleed, so it is nothing new,” Bradley said. “It seems like my skin is pretty paper-ish, so a few stitches and no big deal.”
A few other notes:
* Bruce Boudreau has 100 career NHL wins, and he’s the fourth fastest guy to reach that plateau. Intersting note from radio play-by-play and stat guru Steve Kolbe: All three other coaches who got there faster have won the Stanley Cup.
* Semyon Varlamov became only the sixth goalie to ever win 12 of his first 14 starts (this also came from Kolbe).
* Marian Garborik loves playing against the Caps. He’s got four goals in two games and is tied with Ovechkin for the league lead at 15.
* Mike Green had two more assists tonight. He’s climbing up the list of points for defensemen.
* Brian Pothier said he jumped higher than everybody when Bradley scored. Pothier was in the box for Gaborik’s second goal.
That’s all for now. The Caps will practice tomorrow morning at Kettler.