For 57 minutes, it looked like another night where the Caps offense was going to fail them despite a nice night from the goaltender. But two goals from Alexander Semin — both setup by Alex Ovechkin — in the final three minutes saved them.
Here are some notes:
*Sergei Fedorov left with what is being called an undisclosed injury. He did not play in the 14 minutes, but that didn’t stop the Alexes from saving the day. Nicklas Backstrom took most of the shifts between the two of them after Fedorov left.
*Nothing further on Shaone Morrisonn other than he has a pulled groin. Obviously, if both he and Fedorov can’t play Saturday the Caps will have to call someone up from Hershey. Plan A on defense might be Fedorov, but his status is TBA.
*Speaking of Backstrom, Bruce Boudreau said it was his best game of the season. It was his second straight game with four shots, and generally the puck spent more time on his stick, and that’s usually an indicator that he is playing well.
“He handled the puck like he could, he made plays and he could have easily had three or four assists if the people he gave the puck to would shoot,” Boudreau said.
Added Backstrom: “I tried to play more physical and work harder on the boards and work harder for more pucks in the defensive zone. That’s what I did in the first period, especially. Hopefully I can get myself going, but the team wins and that’s the most important thing.”
“Last game, those shots were more from the blue line I think,” Backstrom said. “This time I think they were closer. Hopefully I can start to score some.”
*Ovechkin was not having his best offensive game for the first 57 minutes, but he ends up with three primary assists in a 3-2 win — can’t ask for much more than that. He was clearly frustrated when the couple of great chances he had did not go in, but he did have seven hits and finished with a flourish.
It has been eight games since he last scored a goal, which is the longest stretch of his career, but he was justifiably in a good mood after the game.
“I think our line today play excellent,” Ovechkin said. “We control the puck, we find each other and we have great chances to score goals.”
When the goal-less streak came up, Ovechkin responded, “I think [the slump] is all about you guys [the media]. You [The media] say I play no well. I think I play the same way I have. I think I still have chances and I create some moments.”
*Brooks Laich dropped to the ice to block a shot in the second period, and took off his right leg. He struggled mightily to get up and off the ice, but he was able to deflect a D-to-D pass out of the offensive zone in the process, and he was able to comeback in the game.
“He came off, but that is character right there,” Boudreau said.
*While the two goals at the end sent everyone home happy, that doesn’t erase the problems the Caps had on offense for the first 57 minutes. Specifically, the Caps kept trying to make the pretty play. Often, fans go overboard with the “Shoot! Shoot!” pleas, but tonight they were justified.
“There were a couple of shifts there were we were trying to tic-tac-toe within 15 feet of each other,” Boudreau said. “It just doesn’t work in this game. When it does, it goes on the highlight reel and you see it twice a year. But it is the meat-and-potatoes shooting the puck and going to the net that is the thing that create goals.”
*This sums it up pretty good from the visitors locker room:
“It just [stinks]. It’s ten seconds left in the game,” defenseman Niclas Wallin said. “They’re a dangerous team. We can’t have turnovers and 3-on-2s like we had. … It [stinks] right now but we have to bounce back tomorrow.”
*Finally, another night, and another negative report on the ice conditions:
“I don’t know if there is a connection – it wasn’t as bad as Ottawa’s but it was close,” Boudreau said when asked if the ice had something to do with Morrisonn’s injury. “You could see it in the second period, it was like playing basketball with all the bouncing.”