I wasn't able to see the Caps game against the Rangers the other night; I wasn't feeling well and the DVR either missed it (maybe it was on the alternate channel, I didn't check) or erased it before I could watch it the next night. So I had mixed feelings about the result (love the win and score differential, but would have loved to have watched it).
Still, it sounded like, from the summaries I read, that the Caps got really lucky that they didn't give up more goals, especially in the first (where they had their traditional slow start, it seems).
Tonight, they got off to a much faster start, drawing a penalty in the opening minute and scoring a minute and change later on the power play. In fact, they completely dominated the entire first period, with shots 11-2 and scoring chances 7-1. They were lucky to get that one goal, as it went in off a defenseman's stick, but they did deserve to have a lead.
It was a very chippy period, with two fights, both fairly innocuous (though Ehrhoff managed to get injured in his fight with Brouwer somehow; I didn't catch how. Maybe he hit his head on the ice when they went down?).
As these things usually do, things evened up a lot in the second period. It started great, with a beautiful passing sequence from Semin to OV to Hamr back to Semin then to Backstrom for the slam dunk into the open net. It was the sort of thing that we'd see regularly for a while, but not so much this season. It also marked Hamr's second assist of the last eleven days (and of the season. Yikes).
But, towards the end of the period, the Caps started getting trapped in their own zone far too much, with Buffalo dictating. That was bound to bite them, and fifteen minutes in, it did. Hecht put in a rebound of a Vanek shot, as both Laich and Alzner failed to tie him up on the doorstep.
But they managed to stop the bleeding there, and keep the one-goal edge going into the final stanza. By this point, shots were even; I think the Caps had an edge of one or two in scoring chances, but I can't remember the numbers. So it was pretty even.
The third period was similar to the second, with Buffalo holding an edge, but not managing to dictate play like they did towards the end of the second. Things started looking a whole lot better fourteen minutes in, though, as Backstrom broke into the O zone on a 2-on-1 with OV. He had it next to the boards on the right-hand side, and shoveled it, backhand, over to OV, just left of center. With Miller playing shot all the way, OV had most of the net and got all of the puck with the one-timer into the middle of the goal. It was another very pretty goal, and ended up sealing the deal for the boys in red.
From there, it was all desperation play by the Sabres, with the Caps playing very little on offense, but they managed to prevent any really long build-up sequences. So, as I said, it proved to be enough.
As I alluded to earlier, it was a very strong game for the defense and for TVo. The offense was a bit more mixed, as they didn't have any completely dominant shifts (I'd really like to see more zone time and cycling), but did put together some very nice sequences off the rush. And the power play did convert one of its two chances. The PK also killed off the only opportunity they gave up, so it was a pretty good game all the way around.
That makes two pretty good games in a row, and they'll get a chance to make it three tomorrow against Columbus. Given the state of the Blue Jackets, showing up and playing hard should pretty well guarantee a win, although we'll see. It would be a long way from the first time they failed to show up, if that were to happen.