Preempted by trash talk earlier this week, which did not seem to affect either team, Semin came out strong despite the crowd and his former teammate’s verbal jabs, with a shorthanded breakaway opportunity just under three minutes into the meeting.
Braden Holtby, however, was ready for him.
"Obviously that was huge because it would have given them a little bit of momentum,” said capitals forward Joel Ward. “We didn't want to be down for sure. In a divisional game you don't want to go down like that on a breakaway so it was a big save for sure and [Holtby] kept us in it right form the start."
It was Semin’s first return to the Verizon Center after a some-what unceremonious ending to his seven-year career as a Capital.
“He took a few boos but it's a little different when you're coming back to a place where you played for a long time,” Ward said. “I'm sure he was nervous at times and close to the start of the game but it was different.”
Semin, as with the rest of his new club, was kept off the score sheet on Tuesday. After his early strike, the right winger took three more shots on goal, had two attempts blocked and went wide of the net on another pair.
"A guy like that is never easy to play against if he's on his game,” said Holtby. “If he decides to play he could be the best player in the world so you have to be aware of that and, like any skilled player, you just have to know where he is on the ice at all times."
Tonight the Caps celebrate their well-deserved win over Semin and the Hurricanes as they head into their game tomorrow night against the Flyers.