Sunday, October 31, 2010, 2:00 a.m.
By Joe Beninati
Its amazing what a little confidence can do for a team. The Caps vaunted power-play unit had been ineffective for a stretch of five games, they werent generating quality chances and they were barely striking fear in their opponents. That all changed this evening.
After spotting the Flames a 2-0 lead, the man-up group clicked on three straight opportunities and pushed Washington out in front in a game they would win in lopsided fashion.
The first power-play goal was a beautiful set play from one end of the rink to the other. A long stretch pass from Alex Ovechkin to Brooks Laich set the wheels in motion. From there, Laich dropped a pass to Mike Green who relayed it perfectly to Nicklas Backstrom who roofed a fine finish.
Two bullet shots from Alex Ovechkin paid big dividends over a two-man advantage in the second period and Washington was on its way.
Dont lose sight of the goaltending work turned in by Michal Neuvirth back in the first period. He made a couple of strong stops when Calgary might have extended its early lead. He gave the Capitals a chance to comeback and they did with a vengeance.
Mike Green made it a successful homecoming by triggering the fourth goal of the game off a pretty combination of passes from Alex Semin and Nick Backstrom. Green, Jeff Schultz, and Tyler Sloan, all from Calgary, had plenty of family and friends acting as a cheering section tonight, and they had lots to be happy about.
Matt Bradley was credited with one of the strangest goals youll ever see. Flames defender Cory Sarich was attempting to clear the puck into the corner while protecting the front of the net. Instead he rammed the biscuit (Locker term) ever so slightly off Bradley and into his own goal. Im not sure if Matt ever touched it.
Alex Semin converted from close range to make it five unanswered goals in the second period. He obviously enjoyed being paired up with Backstrom and Ovechkin on the top scoring line. That trio combined for 10 points and looked very much like the point-producing phenoms they were a year ago.
David Steckel was rewarded for his hard work on the penalty kill. He was hauled down on a breakaway and given a penalty shot, on which he went upstairs over a sprawling Henrik Karlsson, who had come on in relief of a beleaguered Miikka Kiprusoff.
All the teams in the NHL know how explosive Washington can be. This evening it was nice to see them give the Flames a sudden reminder of their offensive prowess. Lets hope they bring that artillery to the match-up with the Maple Leafs on Wednesday at Verizon Center.