It hasn't taken long for the new faces in the room to develop some chemistry with their new team mates, as evidenced by tonight's hard-fought win against the St. Louis Blues on Military Appreciation Night. But it was the young Blues club who got on the scoreboard first after a somewhat slow start by the Caps.
The game's tempo took a turn for the better when Matt Bradley KO'd Tyson Strachan towards the end of the first period. The Blues always play a rough and tumble game and were quite generous in doling out the hits. But one of the newest Capitals, Dennis Wideman, had at least five tooth-rattling hits of his own (in addition to a few key blocked shots in front of the net). Wideman is fitting in quite nicely thank you - and led the boys in ice time with more than 22 minutes in action. It was his fellow defense man, Scott Hannan, who lit the lamp first for the home team. Hannan was the recipient of a beautiful pass from Ovechkin, and notched his first tally as a Capital at 3:08 in the second period. Matt Hendricks, who was grinding it out in the corners for much of the evening, also had a hand in Hannan's goal. Two minutes later, St. Louis reclaimed the lead as BJ Crombeen stunned the boys, scoring right off the face off.
The Caps were skating harder than we've seen in quite some time and their consistent energy paid off. Alex Semin turned up the heat on the occasion of his 27th birthday, taking several quality shots and mucking it up on the boards. Nicklas Backstrom tied the game with a goal resulting from a lacrosse-like swing (sure to be on many of tomorrow's highlight reels) at 6:28 in the second, giving Ovechkin his second assist and Mike Knuble his first on the night. End of second period: Caps 2 - Blues 2
The atmosphere at Verizon Center was electric going into the final period, reminiscient of last year's President's Trophy winning season. To put the finishing touches on one of the more exciting games we've seen in some time, new Capital Jason Arnott notched the GWG at 14:41 in the third - his first as a Washington Capital. The Arnott-Laich-Semin line seems to meshing well thus far - GMGM was quite the sneaky genius with his most recent additions. Final score: Caps 3 - Blues 2
Finally, a huge Hockey Mom high five to Michal Neuvirth, who broke a team record earning his 21st win - the most ever by a rookie goalie! The boys are busy packing the swim trunks and fishing poles for this weekend's trip to the Sunshine State but there will be no rest for the weary as they'll face two tough opponents in back-to-back games.