As I mentioned, I didn't watch yesterday's Caps/Bruins game until this morning (and I'm glad I went to look so soon, because I would have missed today's Flyer's game entirely, if not). I wasn't feeling at all well about the Caps prospects in the game, with it being a) in Boston, b) against a very strong Bruins team, c) without Grabo, and d) also without Erat (hurt blocking a shot, apparently).
But the Caps were much more psyched up to start this one, jumping to an early possession advantage, and keeping that for almost the first thirty minutes. And that includes a full, two-minute two-man disadvantage only seven minutes in (I still don't know what happened there, to be honest; I didn't see either of the penalties). And Laich broke his stick on the opening draw of that penalty. Somehow, the Bruins only got one shot off on that advantage. Stellar penalty killing, there.
Washington finally got a penalty of their own with just under two minutes left in the period with an interference call on Kelly (a hit after the whistle, IIRC, where Chimmer wasn't even looking at him). The Caps took up right where they'd left off against Florida, scoring in under half a minute, with the old around-the-umbrella play (Backstrom on half-wall to Carlson up top to OV on the other half-wall with the one-timer).
The fine play continued into the second period, with Chimmer drawing a second penalty in the first minute. It took quite a bit longer, and was actually done on the rush, but OV scored on another one-timer a minute-forty-five later.
Boston started clawing their way back after that, with a solid edge in play, but Washington actually scored the next goal nearly eight minutes later. It was off a center-ice face-off; Ward fought off his man when Boston won it, and intercepted a pass between the two defensemen, and fighting his way behind both of them. Rask went for his forehand shot, but Wardo pulled it back to the backhand and put it into the empty net. Mighty impressive play, from beginning to end.
But Chimmer gave back a penalty half a minute later, and Boston scored seventeen seconds later when Bergeron found himself with time in the slot and put it over Holtby's shoulder into the top corner.
Boston scored again, seven minutes later, when Thornton tipped Paille's shot between Holtby's legs to bring the margin down to one.
No goals resulted, but there was a weird situation a minute later when Washington went on the power play, and Backstrom broke Chara's stick keeping Zdeno from clearing the puck. Play continued, but Chara appealed to the ref and got the call. I've never seen that happen before. So Washington's power play only lasted five seconds as Backstrom went to the box.
But thankfully, nobody scored as a result, leaving Washington ahead at the end of the second.
The third period went quite quickly, with Washington managing almost no offense outside of the power play. The only good thing is that the "almost" there did include a play where Fehr got the puck from one of Boston's D, and sprinted past into a clean breakaway. And beat Rask between the legs with his quick wrister, restoring the Caps two-goal lead.
Despite a lot of pressure, the Caps managed to prevent any other goals (Holtby played extremely well, although he didn't have many flashy goals), and took the game by the final of 4-2.
Overall, despite missing Erat and Grabo (although they did get MarJo back, and he did look consistently dangerous), the Caps actually looked better than they did against Florida. The Caps needed to win and they did.
As mentioned, Holtby looked very good, stopping thirty-six of thirty-eight shots.
The power play was decent. The two goals were very good, but they also allowed several very good chances against. The eighteen shot attempts (fourteen on net) was also quite good, coming in less than nine minutes.
The PK was not great, allowing nine shot attempts in less than four and a half minutes, although only five were on net. Gotta say they were fairly lucky to only allow one goal.
I should also note that OV reached eight hundred career points with the five he had in the two games. I'm glad to see that he seems to have come back mad, rather than depressed, from the Olympics. Let's hope that continues.
Overall, though, at this point in the season, and especially with the schedule remaining, results are all that matter for this team. I'm still not feeling great about their chances to make the playoffs, but this was a big step in the right direction.