Beninati: Nine is fine

Beninati: Nine is fine
March 16, 2011, 6:20 am
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011 2:13 a.m.


By Joe Beninati

By the time the Capitals ended their morning meeting at Bell Centre they knew they would be without two key centers in their match-up with Montreal. Despite the fact that neither Nicklas Backstrom nor Jason Arnott were available, the Caps continued their march toward the top of the Eastern Conference with a 4-2 triumph over the Canadiens.

We thought the goaltending battle would be an interesting one. Both Braden Holtby and Carey Price have been playing remarkably well lately. But in the first few minutes of the game they both had their adventures.

With the Caps enjoying a very early power play opportunity, Dennis Widemans dump-in from center ice took a weird carom to the front of the goal while Price was roaming behind the net. Marcus Johansson had to be laughing as he put away an easy 10-footer into the empty cage.

The follies continued 20 seconds later when Holtby put an outlet pass right on the stick of Montreal winger Travis Moen. Moen snapped a shot into the open corner of the net before Holtby could scramble back into position.

A mere 40 seconds after that the Caps had Price on the ropes again. Matt Hendricks was convinced he scored, only to have the goal washed out by referee Brad Watson, who was in the act of blowing his whistle. After four minutes of video review, Watsons no-goal call would stand in spite of the loud protests from the Capitals bench.

The first period scoring summary was completed by Brooks Laich. In the same building where he would score his first NHL goal almost six years ago, he bagged the 100th of his careerand it was a beauty! Karl Alzner sent Laich in with a perfect seam pass. Brooks used his speed to turn the massive Hal Gill and then tucked a forehand shot past the outstretched leg of Price.

The Canadiens goalie has been their MVP this year by miles, and he showed the Caps why in the second period. He made at least four outstanding saves to prevent Washington from taking a much greater lead.

Andrei Kostitsyn delivered a wicked snapshot to the tie the score after 40 minutes. Holtby has an amazingly quick catching glove, but it was no match for Kostitsyns bullet.

The game would be settled in the third period and the Capitals carried the play. 21,000 fans at Bell Centre were disappointed to see Alex Ovechkin set up Johansson for his second of the night. Ovechkin had a running feud with P.K. Subban all evening long. He was able to bounce free long enough to set up MoJo for a tap-in.

The Caps would be assured of tying a club record with their sixth consecutive road win when Mike Knuble slammed home a nice feed from Marco Sturm to cap a 2-on-1 break.

The overall win streak for DC is nine and counting. On Wednesday, a severe challenge unfolds as the Caps collide with the Red Wings in Detroit. Mike Babcocks team has a scary assembly of talent, which should create a juicy match-up with the Capswho continue to be the hottest team in hockey.