You know you’re in for a doozy of a game when the NHL’s top defensive and offensive teams come together for an epic post-Christmas battle. That was the case tonight at the Verizon Center as the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils rolled into town, featuring future Hall of Fame net minder Martin Brodeur minding the crease. Washington and New Jersey are two of the three Eastern Conference teams (and two of five overall) with 50-plus points.
After getting the boys packed and off for a snowboarding trip with dad (yes, HM will get a much-needed respite from the rigorous travel hockey schedule for a few days!), I settled in to watch the game in my comfy new Capitals pj’s – one of my favorite holiday gifts.
The boys got on the board first as Alex Ovechkin rifled one past the rock solid Brodeur. Ovie got a little help from his pal Nick Backstrom, who has had quite the holiday celebration the entire month of December! Prior to tonight, he’d tallied 10 goals and nine assists (19 points) with a +11 rating in his last 12 games.
Michal Neuvirth definitely looked right at home in the net, stonewalling several Devils’ shots in the opening periods. And everybody’s fave, Matt Bradley, netted the Caps’ second goal at around the 13 minute mark of the first period. The Devils only saw the lamp flash red once in the first period as Rod Pelley scored for the visitors. End of the first: Caps 2 – Devils 1
The second period saw a lovely backhand goal from none other than the fabulous Nick Backstrom to give the boys a 3-1 lead. A Devils goal soon after went to review by the powers that be in Toronto and was ultimately waved off as a high-stick. Another memorable moment in the middle stanza was an absolutely stunning save by Marty, who stopped a breakaway, full-speed-ahead Alex Ovechkin cold in his tracks (which doesn’t happen too often as we all know)! End of the second period: Caps 3 – Devils 1
The Caps also did a great job on the penalty kill this evening, squelching all four power play opportunities for the Devils in the first and second periods. The men in red didn’t get their own man advantage until late in the second period, where for a short time, they were on a 5-on-3 advantage. Martin Brodeur was absolutely stellar in stopping all of the shot attempts and keeping his team above water while the Caps had the brief 2-man advantage.
The momentum stayed in the Caps’ favor in the opening minutes of the final period as Mike Green scored with a rocket that Marty was unable to stop. Tonight’s goal was Green’s fifth in 10 games as he keeps his fingers crossed that his name will be announced on Team Canada’s roster in a few days! And the assist from the red-hot Nick Backstrom gives him a total of 11 goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games – someone get that boy a phat new contract! Speaking of contracts, word has it that Alex Semin has agreed to a one-year extension.
A huge Hockey Mom high five to the boys who beat the Devils in front of rocking red home crowd with a final score of 4-1 (yes folks, you read it right - four goals against the great Marty Brodeur)! A tremendous effort and a fabulous win (and how about David Steckel owning the face-off circle)!
On another note, Washington Capitals Charities and the Caps will host a special holiday skating party tomorrow for 25 underprivileged families that were adopted as part of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Slap Shot will join in on the festivities that will include pizza and drinks for the 63 kids and their families before they take to the ice for an afternoon of pure fun! The event will take place from 12:30 – 2:45 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
In mid-November Capitals’ wives and girlfriends Kim Clark, Rachel Fehr, Mackenzie Keeley and Diondra Steckel shopped for bikes, books, clothes, electronics and toys, spending $275 on each Angel Tree child at Target. The parents and guardians received Target and local grocery store gift certificates. By the end of the day the wives and girlfriends filled up 40 shopping carts and five SUVs with toys, clothes and presents for a total of more than $23,000.
HM hopes all the Angel Tree families had a wonderful holiday and I’m sure tomorrow afternoon’s skating party will be filled with laughter and smiles for all….