Friday, March 18, 2011

Caps Blank Hot Devils at the Rock

After a hard-fought battle resulting in a loss to the Detroit Red Wings (who sit in a solid second place spot in the uber-tough Western conference), the Capitals were off to New Jersey to face the Cinderella story Devils tonight. The Devils are still without poster boy Zach Parise and have been the buzz of the hockey world since working their way up from the bottom of the barrel in terms of NHL standings. After the two teams traded players in the forms of Jason Arnott and David Steckel (neither of who dressed this evening), the Devils won six of their last eight in the month of March.

Tonight the home team skated in their retro red and green uniforms, bringing back memories of Christmases past. Legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur manned the net for Devils donning a throwback red mask (which was knocked clear off by his own defense man in the second period). The Capitals welcomed back Nick Backstrom, who'd been on the shelf with a fractured thumb. Meanwhile, to say the Caps had a slow start would be an understatement. The boys only threw 2 shots towards Brodeur (compared to New Jersey's 12) in the first period - luckily one of those two (a slap shot from yes, Jeff Schultz) lit the lamp. Michal Neuvirth continues to plead his case for the number one spot, stopping all 12 shots he faced to hold the Devils scoreless. End of first period: Capitals 1 - Devils 0

The boys didn't exactly pick up the pace as far as shots on goal in the middle stanza either - recording a whopping 6 - in addition to handing the Devils two power play opportunities. Again, Michal Neuvirth's heroic saves kept the Caps in the game, which included a jaw-dropper of a stop against a rocket from FOO (friend of Ovi) Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite the low number of pucks being directed towards Marty (who must have had Red Bull in the Gatorade bottle to keep from dozing), Mike Knuble tallied for the Caps at 15:58, a result of a beautiful feed from Jersey-born rookie John Carlson. *Fans, we many have to thank Carlson's mom for his outstanding performance  - apparently Mama Carlson fed the boys like champs on Thursday night! This PSA brought to you by: Thank a Hockey Mom...

With 3:09 left in second period, Matt Hendricks of blue mouthguard and black eye fame, inadvertently lifted his stick, hitting Rod Pelley in the face. Hendricks drew a double minor and the Caps were on a four-minute penalty kill. The stellar penalty kill unit finished off the second period by denying the Devils and had under a minute left on the kill to open the third. End of second period: Capitals 2 - Devils 0

The PK unit went straight to work to open the final period, shutting down New Jersey's power play. Having already notched an assist and a goal, veteran Mike Knuble got on the scoreboard again with under 9 minutes left in the period. Knuble was the recpient of a nice pass from Ovechkin and banked it over Brodeur's glove while parked in his tradtional fishing grounds - right in front of the net. Carlson continued to shine, capturing an assist on the last tally in front of his beaming friends and family. Michal Neuvirth made yet another outstanding save against Kovalchuk as the final seconds ticked off the clock, leaving the highly compensated winger shaking his head in frustration. Neuvy further cemented his status as frontrunner for the starting gig by denying a total of 33 shots on the evening - a brilliant performance overall. Final Score: Capitals 3 - Devils 0

After claiming their 20th road win of the season, the boys face a tough test (emphasis on "tough" as we are talking about Philly after all) on Tuesday as they'll enter a hostile Wachovia Center to face the Flyers. As always, it's sure to be a feisty affair, especially considering both teams are neck and neck in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Foil up your knuckles Caps fans...

No comments: