Thursday, January 7, 2010
By Joe Beninati
When I read the Ottawa newspapers today at least four of their columnists predicted a 5-2 Caps win tonight. Those gentlemen must have had a crystal ball because Washington took control of this hockey game in the third period on the way to that exact scoring margin.From the opening shift of this contest I got the feeling that the Senators were going to be uncomfortable with the tempo set by the Caps. The puck movement was exceptionally quick and all four lines were giving examples of that. David Steckel, Matt Bradley, and Boyd Gordon capped off an outstanding shift filled with hustle when Gordon cashed in on a rebound from Pascal Leclaire. Leclaire was suspect on the goal Mike Knuble scored from a severe angle in the first. The Caps were the dominant first period team we're used to them being, not the relatively quiet one of the past four games. They looked like they were going to run away and hide in the second period. Leclaire was forced to make several outstanding stops in that frame, keeping his team close. When Chris Phillips had one bounce off Mike Green into the net late in the seocnd, this game was too close for comfort.Jose Theodore was very steady throughout the game in goal. He had been working on his rebound control in practice this week and the hard work paid off.
Nick Backstrom hooked up with Alex Ovechkin early in the third period to give his gang some breathing room. That goal will not go on the Leclaire highlight film, but Backstrom's next one definitely belongs on his. The gracefully Swede swooped behind the net while Leclaire was lost at one side of the cage. In the blink of an eye Nicklas tucked the puck into the far corner while the Senators looked on stunned.Alex Ovechkin finished the third period scoring spree with a beautiful backhand off of a semi breakaway. Ovechkin shifted into high gear at the blue line and put his shot violently into the roof of the goal.
This was truly and all around effort. I thought the D was very solid even though they were working against an Ottawa team playing without Jason Spezza andDaniel Alfredsson, and one that lost Milan Michalek in the first period tonight. Regardless of the Senators being undermanned, John Erskine turned in a super effort. Here's hoping that all the Caps duplicate it in Atlanta Saturday.Watch the game highlights