Game 12 Review: Caps Drop Canes With 11 Seconds Left

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, November 06, 2008 | , , , , | 0 comments »

Washington -- Washington Capitals LW Alexander Semin scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with 11 seconds remaining in the game, to lead the Caps past their division rival Carolina Hurricanes 3-2, pulling to within two points of the division lead in the process.

Semin's ninth and tenth goals of the season could not have come at a better time, as Washington entered the final period down 2-1, playing with more determination but similar results as 2-1 losses on the road the last two weeks to Ottawa, Phoenix and Calgary.

Coach Bruce Boudreau decided after practice yesterday to put three of his four Russian forwards together on a line for tonight's game, and the move paid off in spades. Semin teamed with his Russian National Team teammates Alex Ovechkin and Sergei Federov on the first line, and Semin responded -- as he has all year -- with two goals. Federov notched his fourth goal in the second period, and Ovechkin, playing just his second game since returning to the team after visiting his ailing grandfather in Russia, assisted on all three of the Capitals goals.

Ovechkin was happy that the group was able to spur the team to succeed. "Our line today played, I think, excellent. We controlled the puck, we find the shooter and we had great chances to score goals, especially in third period. Everybody enjoyed it, everybody see it's time to wake up, time to win the game."

The win was marred slightly with news of two injuries to key components of the Caps engine. D Shaone Morrisonn left the game in the second period with a "lower body injury", suspected to be a groin injury, and C/F Sergei Federov left late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Coach Bruce Boudreau had no details on either injury in his post-game press conference.

Forward Brooks Laich also took a heavy hit blocking a shot in the second period with his leg, and had trouble removing himself from the ice. Laich, limping heavily, managed to break up a D-to-D pass, knocking the puck out of the offensive zone on his way off the ice, essentially on one leg. Boudreau described the act as one word: "Character." He would return in in the third period.

Goalie Brent Johnson, making his second consecutive start in place of free agent G Jose Theodore, played terrifically behind his teammates, making several spectacular saves, none better than a toe save while the Caps were killing a five-on-three power play in the third period. Johnson stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced, to go along with the 40 saves he had in Ottawa Tuesday night, the game that "earned" him this start, according to Coach Boudreau.

Boudreau complemented his penalty killers after the game, especially noting the performance down two men. "The last couple games we've done a really good job at it. Different guys are on there doing it, and you're getting big saves there from the goaltender which is always the number one ingredient when you're killing a penalty is to have your goalie be your best penalty killer, and he was on both of the five-on-three occasions."

Carolina received goals from Scott Walker, his first of the season, and Tuomo Ruutu, his fifth. The Hurricanes also had a health scare, as team captain Rod Brind'Amour was whacked in the face by Semin on his follow-through on the game-winner, sending the veteran sprawling -- and spewing blood profusely as he left the ice. There was no word, as of this writing, on the extent of his injury.

Photos (c) C. Nichols 2008.


WAS: Federov (4) from Ovechkin and Schultz (2-3:05); Semin (9) from Ovechkin and Poti (3-17:17); Semin (10) from Ovechkin and Green

CAR: Walker (1) from Melichar and Babchuk; Ruutu (5) from Corvo

GOOD: Brent Johnson. Johnny was extremely sharp again tonight, and it would not be surprising to see him between the pipes for Saturday night's tilt with the Blueshirts. The Russian Sniper Line was great too. They all skated very well, especially in the third period when they got the equalizer and game winner.

BAD: John Erskine. He was the worst player on the ice tonight. He screened Johnson on the second goal, continues to turn the puck over in his defensive and, and cannot seem to clear the puck off the boards when his team needs him to.

UGLY: The injuries. Losing Morrisonn would be a crippler, and would require a call-up. If Feds is hurt too, there goes your insurance policy. I guess we'll have to see tomorrow how bad it all really is.
NEXT GAME: Washington faces the New York Rangers Saturday night at Verizon Center at 7:00 pm. The Rangers defeated Tampa Bay 5-2 tonight, and are owners of the league's best record at 11-4-1.

RECORD: 6-4-2-14, second in Southeast Division, two points behind Carolina. One-game winning streak.

NOTES: Morrisonn played in his 300th career NHL game before leaving with the injury.

All five goals were at even strength. The Caps were 0-for-4 on the power play and and killed three penalties successfully, including a five-on-three.

Donald Brashear mixed it up with Wade Brookbank near the end of the first period, easiley getting the best of him in a one-sided affair.