F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 10/03/13 at 11:05 PM ET
The Washington Capitals erased an early 3-0 hole to defeat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in a shootout. After giving up six goals to Chicago on Tuesday night, it was a disastrous start for the Caps as they gave up three first period goals to Calgary. It's one thing to have Chicago light you up, but for Calgary, a perceived lottery team, to run out to a three goal lead, that's a disaster. The Caps, though, managed to erase the deficit, tying the game late in the third period. On to the reCap:
Washington Goals: Carrick 1 (Johansson, Alzner); Ovechkin 2 PP (Green, Johansson); Ovechkin 3 (Johansson, Backstrom); Backstrom 1 PP (Grabovski, Ovechkin)
Michal Neuvirth: WIN 27 Saves; 1 Goal -- Braden Holtby: ND 8 Saves; 3 Goals
Calgary Goals: Jones 1 (Monahan); Stempniak 1 (Giordano, Backlund); Hudler 1 PP (Brodie, Giordano); Bouma (McGratten, Street)
Karri Ramo: SO LOSS 35 Saves; 4 Goals
Washington: Grabovski GOAL (forehand/backhand)
Calgary: Baertschi SAVE (attempted 5 hole)
Washington: Ovechkin GOAL (forehand backhand)
Hudler: SAVE (attempted glove side)
Going back to last season, Braden Holtby has allowed 13 goals over his last three games. Those are not all on him, but he's had his fair share of mental mistakes (like the GWG on Tuesday). Tonight, he definitely could have been better. The defense let him down, but we've seen him bail them out when he's in the zone. Letting in three first period goals against Calgary cannot be acceptable.
That being said, Michal mad a rather notable mistake too. Attempting to channel his inner Braden Holtby, Neuvirth left the crease to stop a dump-in. He lost his footing and left a vacant net for Bouma to easily deposit the puck. Given that Connor Carrick had just made it a two goal game, it has the possibility of being backbreaking. Aside from that, Neuvirth was everything he needed to be tonight, making 27 saves on 28 shots and stopping both shootout attempts. And, like every goalie tries to do, he embellished some contact by Galiardi that put the Caps on the powerplay where they would tie the game.
I gave Connor Carrick some crap for his terrible play on Tuesday against Chicago. And rightfully so. I was honestly expecting the same tonight, especially when he skated to the penalty box five minutes into the second period. Instead, he became a hero two minutes later. As the Capitals killed off the penalty, Carrick skated off the ice and set himself up perfectly to receive Johansson's pass, leading to a clean breakaway and his first goal in the NHL. And it was quite a goal, as he deked Kari Ramo right out of his pads. I don't know how many how defensemen can say their first NHL goal was that quality.
Carrick's partner for the night, Jack Hillen, did not fair so well. After some poor play on his part led to Calgary's first goal, he took a rough check along the boards from Lance Bouma. It was a perfectly legal check, but Hillen's attempt to avoid the check left Bouma crushing Hillen's knee against the boards. Hillen immediately fell to the ice and laid there until the training staff could get to him. He was clearly in a lot of pain, but eventually was able to get off the ice with some help from Alexander Ovechkin. This marks the second straight year that Hillen has been brutally injured in the home opener. Last season, he took a check from Tampa Bay's Lecavalier that led to him missing three months with a shoulder injury. This one looks like it might be worse.
Tom Wilson will get a lot of respect in the locker room for challenging Bouma to a fight following the check. Yes, it was a legal hit, but it's nice to see that they are willing to defend each other. This is something I've thought they have lacked the last few seasons. Last season when Hillen crumpled to the ice, nobody even had words with Lecavalier. This would stand to be the only noticeable moment of the night for Tom Wilson, as the fourth line was again limited in minutes. All three (Wilson, Beagle, Erat) would log less than seven minutes. I expect Erat still is not sure what his role is on this team.
We just missed seeing the Capitals produce hat tricks in back-to-back games, with Ovechkin grabbing a pair of goals tonight. He did claim a "captrick" as he added the deciding goal in the shootout.
Mikhail Grabovski, who had a hat trick Tuesday, had another standout game. Although he did not find the back of the net, he was constantly driving play. He continued his great play on the extra man, setting up Ovechkin with a great cross-crease pass that he just missed. On Backstrom's game tying goal, Grabovski was somehow able to corral the loose puck in the crowd of bodies and see Backstrom alone to his right. I can only assume people in Toronto might be second guessing their decision to toss him to the side.
Marcus Johansson, who has still yet to prove himself a consistent offensive first, has his first career three-point night, picking up assists on the first three Washington goals. The best of these was the first as he sent Carrick in alone for the first goal. He was working the Backstrom position along the boards for Ovechkin's first goal of the night. He picked up his third assist bumping Backstrom's faceoff win back into the path of Ovechkin, who promptly snapped it past Ramo's glove.
Last season, the Capitals were the last team in the NHL to participate in the shootout. This year, they took part in the first.
The Capitals are going to be a fun team to watch this year, although I'm not sure my heart will be able to handle it all. They will continue their run of Western opponents as they travel to Boston for a Saturday game. It will be the first time the Capitals will face Cody Eakin, who was part of the trade that brought Mike Ribeiro to Washington.
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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