Saturday, December 13, 2008
Caps Visit Habs Land with New Face in Net
The Washington Capitals are in the hockey hotbed of Montreal to meet the history laden and injury plagued Canadiens. In the opening period, rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov exhibited the steel composure of a veteran in his first NHL stint between the pipes. The Caps lit the lamp first with a power play tally from Nick Backstrom assisted by his line mates, Alex and Alex.
Second period, Alex Ovechkin took a high-sticking penalty after practically being mauled by Tom Kostopolous, AO returned the favor by accidentally sticking Kostopolous in the schnozz. Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak got his bell rung (or was just milking it) midway through the second period when Alex Semin stormed the crease (with assistance in the form of a push from behind from some friendly Canadiens).
With less than 8 minutes left in the second, young Varlamov made a spectacular stop on a shot from Tomas Plekanec. The Canadien's Patrice Brisebois tied it up with an even strength goal near the end of the second period.
I love the Hockey 101 features conducted by assistant coach Dean Evason, where he demonstrates hockey fundamentals on the ice with various Caps players. This is a great feature for young hockey players as well as hockey newbies just learning the ins and outs of this great game.
Third period brought a slashing call against Alex Kovalev, who is one of those players that deserves a Golden Globe award for his on-ice embellishments and often dramatic exaggeration in trying to draw penalties. Alexandre Giroux had a sweet breakaway but was denied by Halak. Well into the third period, Varlamov was still enjoying his stellar debut, facing a flurry of shots from the Habs. Who says the kid's not ready for primetime?
At less than 3 minutes left in the final period, Michael Nylander had a goal reminiscent of the one Ovie made famous, scoring as he slid nearly into the goal on his back (though the puck may have taken a lucky bounce off of a skate in the process)!
So the Capitals earn another hard-fought victory, thanks to an unbelievable first NHL game from Varlamov. Varlamov fell to his knees (probably in exhaustion) at game's end and was mobbed with congratulatory hugs by the rest of the Capitals! It is absolutely the Year of Backup in the National Hockey League!
Way to go boys - here's a huge Hockey Mom toast to another big Caps win and also to commemorate Sergei Fedorov's 39th birthday!