The Capitals hopefully banished the very bad memory of last year's dreadful Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a resounding win last night over the currrent Cup champion Penguins! Despite a rocky start where Jose Theodore went a little Carey Price (minus the fisticuffs) out of his crease allowing the Pens the first goal, last night's game saw an absolutely stellar performance by almost everyone wearing a white sweater. Mike Knuble tied it up shortly thereafter with the assist from the Great8.
The boys were without the services of Mike Green, but youngster John Carlson filled in quite nicely and earned his first NHL point (Hockey Mom high five for that one)! No official word yet on what exactly is ailing the Green Monster but hope to see him against the desert dogs at Verizon tomorrow.
This game lived up to the massive hype for most of two periods with the two bitter enemies trading goal for goal. One of the Pen's goals was scored by another youngster, Nick Johnson, who was also called up from the minors. Can you imagine scoring your first NHL goal against the Capitals? Speaking of Johnson, former Caps' goal tender Brent Johnson got the nod for the Penguins and in the third period it was evident that the Capitals had his number. Particularly in the third period, when the league's power play leaders opened the flood gates.
This one was tied at 3-3 in the final period when Tomas Fleischmann scored with a sick wrister courtesy of an even sicker Alexander Semin pass. And less than two minutes later, Pens' veteran Bill Guerin (who was sporting a groovy "Slap Shot-esque" mustache) went to the box for interference and the league's leading power play went to work. Nick Backstrom netted a lovely power play tally with help from his pal Flash and the Caps were in possession of a significant 5-3 lead. The mutual dislike between these two started to boil over late in the third when Geno Malkin (who probably should have been whistled for goalie interference in the incident) came way too close for comfort to Theo and Caps' d-man Tom Poti stepped in to protect his territory. Of course, this being the Penguins and all, much whining to the refs on the part of the guys in the bird sweaters followed.
The Pens pulled Johnson in the final minutes for the extra skater but how appropriate that Crosby's nemesis, Ovechkin, tallied the final empty net goal to a chorus of boos from the haters in Mellon Arena.
Jose Theodore quickly redeemed himself from his first period gaffe, stopping 35 shots for the 6-3 victory - and what a sweet victory it was! An outstanding effort from all the boys (HM has to also add a stick tap here to Shaone Morrison on his two assists) and hopefully this hard-earned win all but banished last year's painful memories!
Up next, the Caps face the resurging Phoenix Coyotes, who are armed with Team Russia goal tender and FOO (friend of Ovechkin), Ilya Bryzgalov. This will be another test for the Caps, as the Coyotes sit in the number four spot in a very tough Western Conference. Hockey Mom will be in the house for all the action but until then, hope you all savor last night's fabulous win!