I watched last night's game against the Blues nearly live (we'd had a neighborhood gathering earlier, though we ended up having to leave it earlier).
It was definitely a weird game, to start. The Caps got off to a decent start, getting the first six shot attempts (although only one ended up on net). St Louis had the next six (none on net). So, seven minutes in, there was only one shot listed, although six were blocked. OV followed that with another shot wide (off the faceoff), and the Blues then brought the puck back up.
Oleksy got it away from the attacker, and pushed it up-ice where Backstrom deflected it (backwards, between his legs!) to OV just outside the zone. It looked fairly innocuous as OV carried in (1-on-4, for those keeping track at home) and took a long slap shot that found the top corner, wide side. If I'd been watching it after the kids went to bed (as usual), I'd've probably woken them up, I was so surprised and happy to see that go in.
Things went more towards normal after that (that is, no super-long stretches without "shots"). And, let's be honest, the Blues badly outplayed the Caps the rest of the way. A little bit of that was special teams (The Blues had ten power play shots, and three short-handed ones, while the Caps only had three and zero), but even strength shots were thirty-four to fifteen also.
Really, in retrospect, it felt a bit like the Montreal/Washington playoff series from several years ago (Halak starting in goal for St Louis made me think about it, of course), except with the shoe on the other foot. That is, the Caps were sitting back and waiting for counter-strikes. Well, I don't think that's true, but it felt a bit like it.
But OV got another goal when he backhanded in a rebound from an Alzner shot from the slot (which, incidentally, tied him with Steen for league lead in goals scored). And Grabo potted a rebound (from mid-air, no less) of a Chimera shot a few minutes later. Given the Caps only having six shots at that point, Halak was given the rest of the night off.
That was enough to send the Caps into the first intermission with a three-goal lead. And, in fact, it was nearly the end of the scoring. All that remained were the two teams trading power play goals in the second.
But really, the rest of the game was a siege of Holtby. To a degree, that's expected with the score that lopsided. But man, it finished 47-20 in shots. Ouch.
As I said, special teams was much of the story. The Blues looked very good on both the power play and the penalty kill. In fact, their penalty kill matched the Caps power play in shots (as alluded earlier), and the power play... I don't know how they were held scoreless.
But they managed not to fold, and ended up a point ahead of Pittsburgh for the Metropolitan Division lead (how's that for the "damns of faint praise"?).
And now, they get to face Pittsburgh for the chance to keep that placement. And OV gets a chance to catch Crosby for scoring on the season (he's currently one point behind). I don't think there's any real argument to be made that, at this point in their careers, OV is better than Crosby, but it'd still be sweet to see him catch or pass Crosby. Go Caps!
(Update: Right after I finished writing this, I saw ESPN had a poll, asking for the quarter-season MVP. I looked at the choices, and decided I'd rate it as a tough call between OV and Sid (close enough that I'd have to do some research to decide between the two). But I decided to vote for OV anyway, just on general principles. Picture of the results below. Tough call, indeed.)