Saturday, October 24, 2010, 10:40 p.m.
By Joe Beninati
Thanks to Tomas Fleischmann, this game ended in a Flash, but it took some odd turns and twists to get to the final conclusion. Alex Semin was Washingtons goal-scoring hero, posting the fourth hat trick of his career, which was almost matched by another two-goal performance compliments of Atlanta young gun Evander Kane. This was a hard game to figure out, so lets go slowly.
The day began with word from the Caps that Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle were brought in from AHL Hershey to fill in for ailing centers Marcus Johansson and Boyd Gordon. In a 5 oclock meeting with Bruce Boudreau, he told us that Mike Green was going to be back in the line-up, but that Tom Poti was coming outand then he said wait, theres more upon which he didnt elaborate. Our cameras were panning the Caps dressing room before warm-ups, when I noticed Danny Sabourin was getting dressed in his goalie gear. okay, what s the matter with Semyon Varlamov?
After making sure I knew which Caps were available and which were not, the game began and the first period was not a pleasant one for the home team. A couple of Atlanta power-plays helped put the Caps on their heels, then Andrew Ladd converted a rebound from the doorstep to give the guests the lead. The Caps held a quick closed-door meeting between periods and came out with much more life in the second period. Thrasher goalie Chris Mason gift-wrapped a goal for Semin just 38 seconds into the frame and it appeared as if the Caps would settle in from there. They had a bunch of decent scoring chances, but continued to have difficulty paying them off. Kane has been a pain the neck in both meetings with Atlanta and he found himself near the top of the crease for a tap-in that was set up well by Rich Peverley.
A potential tying goal from Mike Green was disallowed for a kicking motion. Up until that point in the game, Green had not played a 5-on-5 shift, not for one second. He worked only on power plays tonight, which meant that Assistant Coach Bob Woods was juggling five defenders all night, and did a nice job with that assignment.
John Erskines play stood out this evening. He played the physical style with which we are all accustomed, and also made sure to stand up for his teammates on several occasions, most notably when Dustin Byfuglien (all 265 pounds of him) crashed into Michal Neuvirth. Byfuglien was excused from the game with a major penalty for charging.
The Caps power play didnt do them any favors tonight. But Perreaults return to the big leagues took a big step forward in the third period. He made two very nice passes, in tight quarters, to deliver Semins hat trick. The third goal came with 6:32 to go and nearly blew the roof off of Verizon Center. Just when it looked like the Capitals were in the winners circle, that kid Kane (he is after all just 19 years old) swatted a mid-air pass into the net with only 33 seconds left in regulation.
It deflated the home crowd for a little while, but in the end the win would be theirs. Just about 90 seconds into overtime Eric Fehr threw a wrist shot at Mason that was moving at warp speed. It hit the goalie up high on the chest and rebounded into the slot where Fleischmann managed to get good wood on a backhand for the deciding goal.
The Caps have three days to get themselves prepared for a visit to Raleigh on Wednesday. Between now and then, I hope we can learn more about the injury troubles that continue to mount.