Game 13 Review: Caps Hold Off Rangers 3-1

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, November 08, 2008 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

Washington -- The Washington Capitals received goals from a grinder, a defenseman that has missed much of the early season, and their first quarter MVP to hold off the Eastern Conference's top team, the New York Rangers, 3-1 before a near-capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Goalie Brent Johnson, making his third consecutive start as Coach Bruce Boudreau plays his hot hand, made 28 saves and allowed just one goal, on a shot that was tipped and redirected. Johnson made several incredible saves, but none were bigger than on a penalty shot at 9:25 of the third period.

Rangers captain Chris Drury got free in the Caps' zone and Alex Ovechkin got enough of Drury to pull him off the puck, but referee Dan Marouelli said Drury was in the clear and awarded the penalty shot. Drury tried to deke Johnson to his stick side, but the goalie used his stick to poke-check the puck before Drury could even get his shot off.

Asked after the game if Brent Johnson was his number one goalie, Boudreau said, "Tonight he was. Maybe Monday again. Wednesday, who knows."

The first two goals, by Brooks Laich and Tom Poti, both went to video review. Laich's goal came after a shot by Alexander Semin bounced back over the goal and Laich batted the puck in from mid-air. The Rangers complained that it was a high stick, but review showed that Laich's stick was indeed below the goal's crossbar, the standard for a high stick.

Poti's goal was even more controversial. Poti knocked in a rebound past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but live it appeared that the goal had become displaced with traffic around the net. The replay showed, however, that even though the goal had indeed moved, it had not become completely dislodged from the peg, which by rule, it must to be to waive the goal.

The Caps third goal was simply spectacular. Alexander Semin, right out of the penalty box with less than ten seconds remaining in the game, collected a loose puck in his defensive face-off circle, wheeled and shot over 110 feet, splitting the posts right in the middle into the empty net.

The Caps were killing that penalty, a debatable call against Semin, as he was called for tripping in a 2-1 game at 17:45. Washington -- and Johnson -- held fast during that power play, even as New York went 6-on-4 when they pulled Lundqvist with about 45 seconds remaining in the period. Nine seconds out of the box Semin pulled off his heroics, sending the home crowd ecstatic.

The Caps are one of four NHL teams unbeaten at home this season, with a record of 5-0-1.

Brooks Laich bats the puck past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. (Photo by AP)_________________________________________________________

WAS: Laich (3) from Semin and Backstrom (1-9:14-PP); Poti (1) from Gordon (1-17:06); Semin (11) from Schultz (3-19:54-EN).

NYR: Voros (6) from Dubinsky and Girardi (3-6:27-PP).


GOOD: Brent Johnson. Everything must look like a beach ball to him right now. The poke-check on the penalty shot was jsut like the other night in Ottawa on Daniel Alfredsson. He's stopped over 96% of shots against him in his three consecutive starts.

BAD: Injuries. They are starting to pile up. D Shaone Morrisonn sat with a groin pull suffered Thursday, so too did C Sergei Federov, and his injury is of the "undisclosed" variety. Chris Clark sat as well with what is reported as a wrist injury.

UGLY: The Captain's mysterious injury. Clark was reported to be upset when asked about his injury after Saturday morning's skate, saying "You have to ask Bruce [Coach Boudreau]." When asked about Clark's statement, Boudreau said "He's perturbed that he's hurt." Hopefully there's no more to this than a player's frustration about not being on the ice. But if this is the coach's method of sitting his captain for his noted poor play so far this season, trouble may be brewing.
NEXT GAME: Monday, November 10 against Tampa Bay at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

RECORD: 7-4-2-16, second in Southeast Division, two points behind Carolina. Two-game winning streak.

NOTES: Alex Ovechkin has now gone nine games without a goal, and has scored in just one of Washington's 13 games this season.

The Caps recalled D Tyler Sloan from AHL Hershey, replacing Morrisonn in the lineup. Eric Fehr dressed for just the fourth time this season and skated with C Dave Steckel and RW Matt Bradley.