The Capitals' Winning Weekend
By Stephen London
On Friday night, the Washington Capitals, riding momentum from beating their most heated rival (Pittsburgh Penguins), were facing a divisional opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning. With Nick Backstrom and Mike Green off the lineup, the Caps got a much-needed divisional win, 4-3.
Perhaps the biggest mistake the Lightning made during the game was taking penalties early. The second of the two power-play chances given to the Capitals was all the hometown team needed to get started. Alexander Ovechkin powered a shot from the point for his 18th goal of the year. The assists were from Dennis Wideman, his 22nd of the year, and Marcus Johansson, his 16th.
After the third extra-man advantage given to the Caps, Troy Brouwer was able to light the lamp for his 12th of the year, but he was not finished. Brouwer did something a Capital had not done this season: get a hat trick. A former Blackhawk, Brouwer put in an even-strength goal during the early parts of the second period and finished off the Lightning with an empty-net goal.
The game did get shaky toward the end of the third period. Even after the empty-net goal, Vincent Lecavalier of the Lightning put one past the normally sharp Tomas Vokoun (28 saves). Of course, between the two division rivals, there will be some tempers flaring. About midway through the second period, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner and Steve Downie of the Lightning dropped the mitts.
The second divisional game in two days in Chinatown had the same theme in terms of winning, but much less scoring. The beginning of the game between the Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes had no real sense of urgency.
Scoreless during the first period, the Capitals found a way to score late during the second. Alexander Semin received a drop pass from Johansson for his 11th goal of the season. But not much later, Jay Beagle of the Caps took an elbowing penalty, which led to the Hurricanes' only score.
The Capitals' young Russian defenseman Dmitry Orlov got the first goal of his NHL career, which was also the game winner, in the beginning of the third period.
Another big story of the 2-1 final against the Hurricanes was Caps netminder Vokoun. Making his ninth start in a row, the veteran goaltender stopped 43 of 44 shots. The Czech goaltender has 19 wins this season, which is ranked sixth in the NHL.
Posted Jan. 17, 2012