Saturday, October 23, 2010

Southeastern Conference Showdown: Thrashers Visit Capitals

Depleted by the injury bug (which the past few weeks seems to be as hard to erradicate as those pesky bed bugs), the Capitals called up reinforcements Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle from Hershey to face the Atlanta Thrashers at home. Both teams were coming off of a two-loss streak and the Caps were without the services of Tom Poti, Boyd Gordon, Marcus Johansson, Matt Bradley and as we learned right before the game, Semyon Varlamov.  A healing Mike Green was dressed but used in limited capacity (as in, only on the power play) And as added motivation to turn this ship around, the boys were called out by owner Ted Leonsis yesterday after Thursday's debacle in Boston.

The Thrashers got on the board first with a power play goal from former Blackhawk Andrew Ladd. Unfortunately, the home team managed a few too many trips to the sin bin and were unable to get on the scoreboard in the opening period. End of first: Thrashers 1 - Capitals 0

2nd period:
38 seconds into the second period, Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason errantly tried to clear the puck, directly to a waiting Alex Semin who ripped it in net for the Caps' first goal.

Shortly after, it was Atlanta's offense getting it done. Rich Peverly set up Evander Kane from behind the net. Kane then proceeded to go five-hole on Neuvirth to take the 2-1 lead.

And the much anticipated return of an injured Mike Green came at 9:41 when Jim Slater took a seat for interference. Green still appears to be somewhat less than 100% but set up what looked to be the tying goal. However, the stripes sent it to review and the hockey gods in Toronto deemed it to have been "kicked in" and called it as no goal to the vocal disagreement of the home crowd.

Neuvirth made an eye-popping save on what would've been a clean breakaway goal for sure but the headturning action for him came later in the period.

At the 17:32 mark, Dustin Byfuglien bolted from his seat in the penalty box (where he was banished for tripping) and instead of putting on the brakes, took a full force run at Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth flew into the goal, stick and legs flying, as a result of the impact. An infuriated John Erskine wasted no time in making Byfuglien pay, pounding the big guy into the ice.

Erskine recieved two minutes for roughing but Byfuglien paid the ultimate price, slapped with a five-minute major and exiting with a game misconduct. Thankfully, Neuvy seemed to be shaken up but appears to have survived the collision no worse for wear. What is with the craziness involving goaltenders each time these two teams have met thus far? For the love already....

Third Period:
So the boys started the third period with 2:32 left on their power play.

Seconds into it, Brooks Laich was whistled for hooking- negating the remaining time on the man advantage.

The Caps took advantage of a bad Atlanta pass which was intercepted by the energizer bunny that is Mathieu Perreault. Number 85 was well on his way to a clear breakaway when he was tripped. On his way down, Perreault managed to get the puck over to Alex Semin, who netted his second goal on the evening at 5:09 of the period.

Then at 13:28, Alex Semin earned the hat trick courtesy of a beautiful pass from Mathieu Perreault. Congrats to Sasha and another outstanding play by the hard-charging Perreault!

To the dismay of Capitals' fans, this one wasn't over just yet. With 32 seconds left, Evander Kane sliced the puck out of mid-air to tie the game at 3-3.

So this one could not be decided in regulation and required overtime. With 1:37 left in OT, Tomas Fleischmann sniped one over Chris Mason to win the game.

 Final Score: Capitals 4 - Thrashers 3

Not a perfect performance by any means, but the boys won a tough one at home and several of the role players including John Erskine had terrific games. Mathieu Perreault made a resounding case for why he deserves a permanent spot on the roster.

HM will miss all of the Capitals' action next week as I'm travelling for work but be sure to check out all the fabulous blogs on my blogroll for the latest and greatest. Happy hockey watching!

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