Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 11:55 p.m.
By Joe Beninati
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The Caps were deservedly criticized for their past two performances on the road.
After tonight, some of that uproar should quiet down.
Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Semyon Varlamov were the main reasons the Caps raced out of Raleigh with a 3-2 win. Backstrom, who had been struggling to produce points in the last week, had a very strong outing. As usual, he controlled the puck with composure, and more importantly he was more willing to unleash his own shot.
His first goal wasthe product of a determined rush to the net to clean up a rebound left by Carolina goalie Justin Peters. Alex Ovechkin took the initial shot and Backstrom was rewarded for getting to the goal.His next goal came with the two teams playing 4-on-4 hockey. Numbers 19 and 8 worked a quick cycle out of the corner to click for a 2-0 lead. Over the first 40 minutes Washington was the superior team. They were working especially hard tonight, doing their best to make amends after laying an egg in New Jersey.
The Hurricanes never quit against the Caps. Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal punched two goals past Varlamov in just a little over four minutes in the third period to tie the score. Fortunately for the Caps, the power play would deliver them to victory lane. They needed onlyfive seconds of time on the man advantage to connect and convert the eventual game-winner. Brooks Laich was camped out in front to tip-in an Ovechkin wrist shot past Peters.
Tom Poti returned to the lineup and provided a steadying influence to the defense. Karl Alzner and John Carlson are developing more confidence against other teams' top lines. Varlamov was extremely sharp for most of the contest. He protected the lower portion of the net beautifully. Hopefully Mike Green will be feeling better by Friday. The Caps will need all their resources to deal with Tampa Bay.
Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy your time with family!