Since I was out of town, we'll just pretend this past weekend didn't happen, ok? Cool. So how 'bout them Caps? As the old adage goes, you've gotta win the games you should win. Well, this year there really are no games the Caps "should win," but a home game against the Rangers is about as close to one as there is. The home opener against C'bus was another. And, just like opening night, the Caps skate away with a 3-2 victory on home ice thanks to Alex Ovechkin (game-winning goal) and Olie Kolzig (30 saves). The penalty killing was acceptable (the penalties weren't), the five-on-five play looked a little better, and perhaps most importantly, the team did a good job of protecting Kolzig.
Two candidates for play of the game. The first was at the very end of the second period when Brian Sutherby crushed Jaromir Jagr behind the Caps net and Steve Eminger started a rush the other way. Eminger skated in over the Rags' blueline and dropped a nifty pass to Chris Clark who let go with a slapper that rebounded perfectly off of goalie Kevin Weekes' pads to Eminger who banged home his first career NHL goal with .2 seconds left in the period to tie the game at two. Beautiful. The goal shifted the game's momentum and the Rags never really recovered.
The second huge play was Ovechkin's game winner on a 5-on3 powerplay half-way through the third period. I'd describe it, but why not let our favorite wordsmith recount it for you - after all, it was his goal: "I saw the rebound and when the puck came to me, I said, 'Oh my God, puck,' " said Ovechkin. "I must shoot." And shoot he did, right past Weekes to put the Caps ahead to stay.
Also noteworthy were a big Kolzig save on Jason Ward late and Petr Sykora's first NHL goal.
Through four games the Caps have beaten two bad teams and lost twice to a pretty good Atlanta squad. In other words, so far the Caps have won the games that they should have had a chance at winning. Next up is another one of those, Wednesday night in Carolina. For now, though, let's savor another win, especially against a hated rival.
The WaPo recaps yesterday's game here, the WTimes here. Kudos to the Times for noting that "the last time the Caps had two players score their first NHL goal in the same game was Oct. 13, 1986, when left wing Yvon Corriveau and center Michal Pivonka both scored in a 7-6 win against the Rangers." Old school, baby.
Elsewhere around the League:
- Toronto coach Pat Quinn, whose team has now lost two shootouts, not surprisingly is not a fan of the format. ''I've said it before on record - I don't like it. No other sport does it except for soccer. I don't know why we do it,'' Quinn said following a 6-5 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Corel Centre. In other words, no other sport does it except for the most popular one on the planet. Why would the NHL want to emulate that?
- Hart: Dany Heatley (G, 2A, shootout winner)
- Ross: Marek Svatos (3G, A)
- Norris: Bryan McCabe (G, 2A)
- Vezina: Roberto Luongo (W, 29 saves on 30 shots)
- Richard: Marek Svatos (3G)
- Calder: Marek Svatos (3G, A, +1, 7 SOG)