Heckuva way to return from the Olympic break, eh? The Caps got a great team effort (though a few too many penalties for my liking), and skated out of Toronto with a 5-3 win over a rusty Leafs team. Matt Pettinger's second straight multi-point game (separated by more than two weeks) and first career multi-goal game added to his single-season high goal total and put him near a 20-goal pace for the season. Brian Willsie similarly added to an already-established career high in goals and Ben Clymer pulled to within three goals of his single-season best. Sure, all three of these guys are playing more minutes than they ever had previously, but they're certainly making the most of their increased roles. Oh, and some rookie kicked in (literally) his 37th goal of the year.
The WaPo has more on the game here, the WTimes here, and the latter adds yet another glowing piece on Alexander Ovechkin here. When asked if he's tired after the whirlwind that has been his past two weeks, Alex responded, "No, I am young, not old. I have lots of power, I have lots of energy. I love play hockey." And we love watch you play hockey, Sasha, what with your lots of power and all.
Not surprisingly, the more comprehensive coverage comes from north of the border, including this, this and this from The Globe and Mail, this, this, this and this from the Toronto Sun and this, this and this from the Toronto Star. Whew! My favorite quote from the above? Easy:
Darcy Tucker accused some Washington Capitals of "laughing" at the Maple Leafs in the waning moments of the Caps' 5-3 victory last night.For the record, Brendan Witt - sporting his "My Name Is Earl" mustache and still, for the moment at least, a Capital - denied that anyone was laughing, adding of Tucker "He must have been frustrated. It was a big game for them." Boo hoo, Darcy.
Tucker refused to identify any of the alleged snickering visitors, only remarking that "it just wasn't fun."
Thread of the Day: Leaf fans respond to last night's loss at TSN.ca
Elsewhere 'round the rinks:
- Today's birthdays: Hall of Famers Duke Keats (b. 1895), Max Bentley (b. 1920) and Allan Stanley (b. 1926), future HoFer Ron Francis (b. 1963) and non-HoFers Jocelyn Guevremont (b. 1951), Pat Boutette (b. 1952) and Claude Vilgrain (b. 1963).
- Rob Blake and Joe Thornton were the first stars of their respective games last night. But where were they in Turin?
- Flying somewhat under the radar is this story on the NHL "tweaking" a couple of rules, most notably the silly automatic delay of game penalty for any puck played off the rink from the defensive zone.
- Buffalo's Best Blog has what is perhaps the last word on Laybergate here.
- Hart: Joe Thornton (Goal, 3 assists, all four points on the power-play)
- Ross: Juraj Kolnik, Joe Thornton (4 points each)
- Norris: Jay Bouwmeester (2 assists, +3)
- Vezina: Alex Auld (Win, 1 goal allowed on 31 shots against)
- Richard: Joe Nieuwendyk, Olli Jokinen, Chris Gratton, Matt Pettinger, Miroslav Satan, Christopher Higgins (2 goals each)
- Calder: Christopher Higgins (2 goals, +2, 2 hits in Long Island native's return to the Isle)
- Aiken: John Grahame (Loss, 4 goals against on 13 shots in just 23:45 before getting pulled for the almost-equally ineffective Sean Burke)