At 19:01 of the first period of last night's 5-1 Caps win over the visiting Canadiens, Alex Ovechkin was nailed with a double-minor for unintentionally high-sticking Montreal blueliner Andrei Markov. Almost immediately, a chorus of "Ref, you suck" rained down from the rafters at the V.C. By the middle of the second period, the fans undoubtedly held the officials in much higher regard (though I didn't here any chants of "Ref, you rule").
Waving off the Habs' apparent game-tying power-play goal because Saku Koivu had gotten tangled up with Olie Kolzig, the ref (I forget which one) sent the Canadiens' captain to the penalty box for interference. The Caps scored twice (Lawrence Nycholat and Alex Semin) on the ensuing four-on-four and that was, more or less, all she wrote. A few notes:
- I was wrong - the game didn't come down to special teams or which team started better (though the Caps did have the lead after one period). How 'bout that?
- There's been talk that when Bryan Muir comes back, he'll be a man without a spot due to Nycholat's strong play. I'm fine with that, but wonder if when John Erskine comes back whether he or Jamie Heward will be the next odd man out - Nycho's been that good (not that displacing a Heward or Erskine is great measuring stick for competence).
- AO had three assists (and on the second one, he really put the "ass" in "assist"), but is now goal-less in his last five. I'm not worried.
- Steve Eminger had two helpers and continues his (dare I say?) stronger play of late.
- It was nice to see Dainius Zubrus back in the goal column and doubly nice to see him there twice.
- Speaking of two-goal getters, is there a more non-chalant skater in the League than Alex Semin? Everything he does looks effortless, and that's only partially a compliment.
- Maybe it's the win talking, but I wouldn't be shocked if Boyd Gordon won a Selke Trophy some day.
- Mike Green's defense on the Alex Kovalev partial-breakaway was beautiful and his rush earlier in the game was also splendid, though less spectacular.
- Hart: Alexander Steen (3G, including the game-winner, 2A, +4, 6 SOG)
- Ross: Alexander Steen (5 points)
- Norris: Ian White (2A, +6, 2 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Curtis Joseph (29-save shutout win)
- Richard: Alexander Steen, Martin Straka (3G each)
- Calder: Ian White (2A, +6, 2 blocked shots)
- Aiken, Pt. I: Tim Thomas (L, 8 goals allowed on 31 shots against in 47:54 of work)
- Aiken, Pt. II: P.J. Axelsson (0 points, -5)
- Aiken, Pt. III: Dominik Hasek (L, 8 goals allowed on 28 shots against in 51:38 of work)
- Aiken, Pt. IV: Evgeni Nabokov (3 goals allowed on 12 shots against in 11:20 of work)