The Caps, tonight, played one of their most complete games of the season (not their most, but top 5, I think), downing the Senators 5-3. They came out strong, forechecking well to keep Ottawa from getting anything set up in the offensive zone. They also were constantly threatening, putting up fifteen shots in the first period. Unfortunately, that hard work didn't pay off, as Anderson did a stellar job in net, keeping the Sens in the game.
In fact, the penalty kill even looked great, getting a breakaway led by Chimera that led to two penalties. Unfortunately, the power play still couldn't solve Anderson, even with almost the whole two minutes of 5-on-3. But they did generate a number of chances (four, IIRC), so I can't say it was a terrible effort. They still weren't moving around as much as they should, but it wasn't terrible.
Early in the second, they finally put one past Anderson off a rebound of Brouwer's shot that Halpern managed to get his stick on, despite being tripped as he was shooting. Instead of giving the Caps momentum, however, they stopped forechecking as hard (or maybe just weren't as successful at it) and played more evenly for the rest of the period. And Ottawa had two pretty goals during that time, put in by Condra and Foligno.
The Caps didn't get too discouraged, though, and came out pretty hard in the third. It took them a while, but they finally managed to solve Anderson on the power play, with a pretty top-shelf shot by Backstrom off the rush. OV, then, finally managed to break through (he'd had a number of good opportunities earlier in the game) with a beautiful stop and shot that went five-hole. That was followed, fifteen seconds later, by MarJo setting up Brouwer on the doorstep for a third goal.
That looked like it was pretty much going to do it (some people started leaving the arena), but Ottawa got a power play (on Semin, increasing his lead for team PIMs) and scored five seconds later on a defensive breakdown and a nice play by Michalek.
That made things pretty tense for a while, especially when the Sens got another power play (on Ward, with his second slashing penalty of the period) with three minutes left. But Carlson managed to clear it all the way down right at the end of that power play (when Anderson had been pulled), and Halpern, on the returning breakout, deflected an attempted pass in right to Carlson. This time Carlson had a second to line up his shot, and stuck it right in the center of the net to provide the final margin with forty-five seconds left.
So, things looked good for the guys in white tonight. More particularly, Brouwer had an excellent game with the Gordie Howe hat trick. Carlson had a goal and two assists for his second consecutive three-point night.
And OV played his best game of the season, I think; he was threatening all night long and had seven shots. He also looked really happy when he scored the goal; we haven't seen enough of him smiling this season. His move to beat the defenseman (Karlsson, who's a very good skater in his own right), was a thing of beauty. He was going full-tilt away from the goal, stopped on a dime, turned, faked the slap shot, and then put a wrister between the legs. The only negative on the night was a cheap shot with his stick to the groin of Neil. Wasn't happy to see that, but I'm more ambivalent if that's what it's going to take to bring OV back.
Semin had a decent game. He got a good opportunity a minute or so in, going in alone on the wing, but lifted the shot high and out of play. He generally looked good after that, although the penalty wasn't a good one.
Dima Orlov looked very good, although I was disappointed when he failed to take advantage of a good hip-check opportunity on a Senator cutting to the net. But he was solid, and even had the second assist on OV's goal.
Schultz actually looked pretty good while he was in, but, for some reason, he was only in for four minutes on the night. Not sure what was going on, there. Alzner and Carlson were mostly the ones who picked up the slack, as they ended up with over 27 minutes on the night. I hope that isn't going to be a regular occurence; they're great, but will get worn down with that kind of workload. Come back soon, Greenie.
Anyway, that's about it for tonight. Let's hope the strong play continues Friday against Toronto, because they're playing very well at the moment.