So after Tuesday night's debaucle against a much-lower ranked Thrashers team, the Capitals aimed to redeem themselves against a Florida Panthers team clawing for a playoff spot. Coach Boudreau was livid, as well he should be, by Tuesday's lack of effort, defensive breakdowns and unwillingness to crash the net.
While tonight's win wasn't perfect, the coach's message must have been heard loud and clear. Bolstered by the return of Sergei Fedorov and Mike Green, the boys looked like a different team from the one we saw in Atlanta (thank our lucky stars)! Brooks Laich spent a large part of the evening exactly where he should be - with his bad self parked in front of Tomas Vokoun's crease. Laich also netted the Cap's first tally (a shortie, no less) with an assist from tough guy John Erskine.
Big Viktor Kozlov got on the board for the second Capital's goal and the visitors held the Cats scoreless. Despite valiant efforts from former Cap Richard Zednik and friends, the Cap's "d" did not allow the Panthers a shot on goal during an entire third period! Mike Green made an empty-netter to finish this one up with a final score of 3 - 0. HM can almost hear the clinking of Guinness mugs as the Caps' faithful toast to St. Patrick's Day and a nicely done victory.
Speaking of St. Patrick (Patrick Roy that is), he no longer holds the title of NHL goalie with the most wins. I was flipping back and forth between the Caps/Panthers and New Jersey Devils/Chicago Blackhawks games to make sure I caught NHL history should it be made by Devils' goal tender Martin Brodeur this evening. As expected, Brodeur surpassed Roy's record by recording his 552nd NHL win tonight. A big Hockey Mom toast to Marty on this historic occasion as well as to his hockey mom and hockey dad (who was a former photographer for the Montreal Canadiens) who drove him back and forth from the rink all those years!
Next up, the Caps road trip continues with a vist to the not-so-hot Tampa Bay Lightning. But as we've learned the hard way, you can't take any team for granted in this push to the playoffs!