Saturday, October 9, 2010, 11:22 p.m.
By Joe Beninati
Bruce Boudreau made it clear to his team this morning in meetings that another lack-luster, low-energy effort like the one in Atlanta would not be tolerated. Obviously his players were all ears. They spotted the Devils a 2-1 lead and then roared back with six unanswered goals, demonstrating the scoring ability that has become their signature.
This performance was doubly impressive when you consider it came against a normally stingy New Jersey team led by future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur. Brodeur yielded five of the strikes tonight and didnt seem to have his usual A game.
This contest began with rookie center Marcus Johansson gift-wrapping a goal for New Jerseys Jason Arnott. The skillful young Swede tried a high-risk pass in his own zone that swiped by Patrick Elias, and before you could blink Arnott was celebrating.
John Carlson responded for Washington just 35 seconds later with a high-velocity wrist shot past a partially-screened Brodeur to tie it. Carlson has a nice offensive upside to his game, and he wound up with a career-best three points tonight.
After Henrik Tallinder blasted a shorthanded goal by Michal Neuvirth, there was some anxiety in the stands at a sold out Verizon Center. But not to worry, the home team was just warming up.
Tomas Fleischmann admitted to Al Koken that he didnt get all the power he wanted behind a close-range shot early in the second, but the placement was perfect to beat Brodeur.
Alex Ovechkin scored the first of his two on the night, by somehow managing to unleash a wrist shot with two defenders practically inside his jersey which bounced past a stunned Brodeur.
Jason Chimera showed off a nice set of skills next. He came out of the penalty box at full speed and took a pretty feed from Fleischmann to beat Brodeur with a shot that confirmed Marty wasnt at his best.
Ovechkin finished the second period off in style by converting a penalty shot on a deke to the forehand. Ovie hasnt had much luck on penalty shots in his career, but he used a wide route to the net to drag Brodeur out of position.
The third period featured a bit more offense from the Caps, and a whole lot of frustration from the Devils. A fight-filled period got extremely ugly when Devils tough guy Pierre LeBlond went after Marcus Johansson , who will never be confused with being the heavyweight champ of the league. This followed a sequence where there were three brawls in six seconds. Matt Bradley landed the best punch of the scraps, flattening David Clarkson with a straight right. The Devils are a proud team. They were being punished in this game, and were hoping to leave a lasting mark on the Caps.
But LeBlond instigating a scrap with Johansson was uncalled for, and should make for interesting follow-up meetings in the future. Im betting the house D.J. King will lace up his skates Nov 22 in Newark.
The Caps moved the puck much more efficiently tonight. Their passing was better, they had more energy, and their motivation was high after stubbing their toes in Atlanta. That makes it nine straight home openers in the win column, good times in D.C.!!