Monday, November 23, 2009

Injury Ravaged Caps Visit Canadian Capital

First of all, HM wants to join her fellow Caps fans in wishing young Nick Backstrom a very happy birthday! Backstrom spent his big day battling the Ottawa Senators, along with his injury depleted team mates. The boys are still without seven of their mates, who are suffering from a wide range of injuries from broken fingers to concussions. Accordingly, Gabby changed his lines up a bit, moving Chris Clark up to the top line with Ovechkin and the birthday boy himself.

Semyon Varlamov got the nod in net for the Caps and made several impressive stops in the first period, including a butterfly stonewall on Sens bad boy, Jarko Ruutu. Unfortunately he was unable to stop one from Peter Regin and the Senators got on the board first. About five minutes later, Chris Clark lit the lamp for the visitors with a wacky bounce that went off his skate courtesy of a sweet Brian Pothier pass. The play went to review by Toronto but was deemed a good goal and dadgum it, we'll take it! With less than three minutes left in the first period, Brendan Morrison tipped one in on Sens goalie Brian Elliot and the boys went into the dressing room with a 2-1 lead.

The Caps got a power play opportunity early in the second thanks to another Chris Kelly goof, but were unable to convert. But later in the period the feisty Jay Beagle netted his first NHL goal after an ugly giveaway by the Sens' Jonathan Cheechoo to give the his team a two-goal edge. Please join me in raising a glass to this fine young man on this joyous occasion!

Brian Elliott was the recipient of a barrage of Capitals' shots his way late in the second but the boys ended the period with a 3-1 score. The Senators tried to get something started as Matt Carkner and their resident enforcer Chris Neil both invited John Erskine to dance, to which he politely declined.

Neil, sporting a fresh shiner from some altercation or another, got the Senators on the board again in the third with a deflection that Varly had no way of seeing. Alex Ovechkin blessed the Sens with a man advantage after he took a roughing call against Chris Campoli. And blast if Alex Pickard didn't tie it up on the resulting power play!

Things started getting chippy midway through the third and the Caps' treks to the sin bin continued as John Erskine was called for high sticking. The penalty killers and Varlamov were magnificent in keeping the Sens off the board. The Caps got a bit lucky thanks to another outstanding save by Varly as Mike Green made quite the scary giveaway inches from the Caps' net. They got another lucky break at the 6:30 mark as the Senators had a sloppy line change and had six skaters on the ice for about 30 seconds. Unfortunately, the guys didn't get on the board on the resulting power play. A little too much passing and not enough shooting going on there boys - power play was not pretty tonight for sure. With three minutes left in the period, Chris Clark tripped up Carrie Underwood's sweetie Mike Fisher and the Senators had yet another power play. Again the PK unit and Varly came up big to deny the Sens.

And here we went again folks, yet another OT decision for the Caps. The guys found themselves on the losing side of a few 2 on 1s in the additional minutes and Varly was able to make a spectacular save against Jason Spezza. But he got caught on another deflection from the Sens and Mike Fisher netted the game-winner for the home team. Final score: Senators 4 - Caps 3

So this has not been a happy visit with our neighbors to the north after back-to-back losses to the Maple Leafs and the Senators. Let's hope we see a few more players back on the bench, a stronger effort and few or no penalties in the latter periods come Wednesday, when the Buffalo Sabres pay a pre-Thanksgiving visit to Verizon Center.

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