Remember yesterday when we noted that Alex Ovechkin's absence presented an opportunity for every Cap to raise his game a notch and that how individuals perform with the MVP out of the lineup would tell us a lot about those players? Well, Alex Semin told us what we already knew: he's really, really good.
The Caps tried - and failed - to simply hold on to a third period lead, but the "other" Alex willed his team to victory like his more celebrated countryman has done on so many nights. Last night, Alex Semin became a man. Last night was Alex Semin's hockey Bar Mitzvah.
A few thoughts on the game:
- A dozen minutes into the first period, Viktor Kozlov deposited some loose change in front following a classic Mike Green rush to give the Caps a 1-0 lead and a 16-2 edge in shots (they'd end the period with a 19-4 shot on goal advantage and a 33-6 shot at goal differential).
- Unfortunately, the Caps used that all-important "shift after a goal" to take a penalty, which the Preds then used to tie the game.
- Unfortunately, the Caps used that all-important "shift after a goal" to take a penalty (yes, again), but this time Semin's brilliant blueline-to-blueline tape-to-tape pass sprung David Steckel on a breakaway, which he converted (and since there's no video evidence of it, he can claim he deked and roofed a backhander past Dan Ellis... and who's going to correct him?). And I'll admit to wondering aloud whether giving Steckel a sweater over Eric Fehr was a good idea.
- It may have taken 526:21 of game time (give or take), but Nicklas Backstrom finally registered a primary assist - a beautiful feed on Semin's power play goal. Backstrom's quest for an even strength point and a goal continues, however.
- Shaone Morrisonn continued his rapid regression with some poor defense and a horrible interference penalty with under five minutes remaining in the game (and speaking of late penalties, or, more precisely, a lack thereof, the refs missed an obvious Nashville check from behind on Green).
- The ice, after a week of horses trotting around the VC, was quite choppy by the third period.
- As alluded to above, the Caps were throttled in the third period, and Nashville's goal came on their 14th shot of the frame (to two for the hosts at that point).
- You'd have hoped for more from a veteran like Michael Nylander, but he turned in a two-stick-penalty/1 SOG/36% faceoffs effort... before scoring the game-winning shootout goal (OffWing Photo has a great pic of it, btw).
- Nylander, Tomas Fleischmann and Mike Green killed it in Corsi Rating. Boyd Gordon continues to struggle.
- Things happen when J.P. Dumont is on the ice at even strength. We knew he was near the top in both GAON/60 and GFON/60, and last night we saw why - he had the game's worst Corsi Rating (minus-ten), but was on the ice for Nashville's two even strength goals.
- Jose Theodore was solid, both in his play and his demeanor.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
A nice closeup of JT60's mask over at SI.com.... Alex Semin is clutch.... Michael Farber adds his two cents to AO's slow start (quick summary: it's Backstrom's fault).... A double dose of Dan Sernoffsky, first on Daren Machesney being "the man," then on assorted Bears miscellany.... If Olie Kolzig hadn't found an opportunity in the Southeast Division, he might have retired. Wait - he didn't retire?