Maple leaf rag

Because there should be some happy music after last night's Caps game. The Caps were -2 at even strength as a team, but woke up the sleeping beast of the power play to the tune of four goals to win solidly. What's more, Wideman decided that Carlson was taking too much of the press with a pair of 3-point games, so he decided to upstage that with a hat trick and an assist (hmm... that's what they were saying at the end of the game, but it looks like the third goal was changed to be credited to Laich, who must have tipped Wideman's shot in. So, two and two, not three and one).

Plus, for the second game in a row, OV looked continually dangerous (though unable to actually score, this time), putting eight shots on goal.

The game started out ok, with the Caps not putting any shots on net for the first ten minutes, but doing a good job of keeping the Leafs from threatening (even with Ward's really stupid "closing hand on puck" penalty. He has not had a good last four-five games, with some very poor decisions in the D-zone leading to goals against, and several bad penalties). But a couple of minutes later, after turning up the offensive play a bit, they got their first power play and, thirty-three seconds later, their first score. The rest of the period was played pretty evenly (maybe a slight edge to the Caps), but without any scoring.

The second period got off to a good start, with the Leafs taking a 'too many men on the ice' penalty ninety-eight seconds in. Eleven seconds later, Wideman had his second goal of the night, with a long shot from the point with Reimer on a screened-in porch. Eleven minutes later, the Leafs got within one on a weird sequence. TVo was hugging the post, and a shot bounced up from the outside of the net, onto and over his leg, and sat behind him for a second until Kessel could skate around the net and tap it in. A bit of a fluke, but not a good job of hugging the post. There really shouldn't be any room there.

The Caps finally did something on a 5-on-3 six minutes later, when WIdeman faked a slap shot then put a pass through a lot of traffic (blind luck that it made it through) to Backstrom on the doorstep, who put it over Reimer then watched the thin part of Reimer's stick push it over the line. Very bad luck for the Leafs, especially as it occurred with one second left on the first penalty, so they still had to kill the second (though they did).

The third period was not as good as the first two. The Caps decided to stop trying for offense for a while, so, predictably, they spent too much time in their own end and eventually gave up a goal to Franson. That got them back to trying at both ends, though, and they picked things up a bit.

Carlson was involved in a bunch of penalties at the end, taking a high stick with a bit more than two minutes remaining (that pretty much killed Toronto's chances of winning), and then getting into a "fight" with fifteen seconds remaining. The power play on the high stick finished out Washington's scoring, though, with Carlson passing to Wideman, whose slapshot from the point was deflected into the net.

In the end, it was a pretty nice game, with the power play clicking like it hadn't in quite a few weeks. The penalty kill, while only called on twice, was also good.

Even strength was a bit less even; I'd like to see more shots and, again, much fewer giveaways. But they mostly did a good job of making it difficult for Toronto to enter the zone and had some good cycling shifts. So it was far from a perfect game, but definitely one showing progress.

A much bigger test will come on Tuesday, as they face the Flyers again. No doubt they will be looking for revenge after the manhandling the Caps gave them earlier in the season.

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