THE RESULT: The Caps have been waiting for a game like this.
Shaking off a sluggish first period, the Washington Capitals scored six times in the second stanza, en route to routing the Calgary Flames 7-2, before 19,289 in the Saddledome on Hockey Night in Canada.
The Caps (7-4-0-14) shook the rust off their power play, scoring three straight man-advantage goals, erasing a 2-0 first period defecit that could have been even larger were it not for the continued stellar play of rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth.
But Washington's skaters finally were able to take the pressure off Neuvirth (27 saves on 29 shots), continuing to light the lamp after finally taking the lead.
Coach Bruce Boudreau changed his lines around again tonight, moving Alexander Semin up to the top line, and the change paid dividends. All three forwards had at least one goal, with Alex Ovechkin scoring twice in a span of 12 seconds, just two seconds longer than Stephen Leach needed to set the Caps record for fastest two goals from one player, 20 years ago next month.
Defenseman Mike Green had his best game of the season, with his first goal and two assists. He played more of his game and was not as tentative as he has been since returning to the line up three games ago from his shoulder injury.
It was clearly his most complete game of the season.
Even fourth line grinders Matt Bradley and David Steckel got into the act. Bradley got credit for a goal when Calgary defenseman Cory Sarich knocked the puck off Bradley's stick into his own net, and Steckel was awarded a penalty shot on a short-handed breakaway when he was hauled down from defenseman Mark Giordano.
Steckel buried it for his first goal of the year off the normally Mikka Kiprusoff (21 saves on 27 shots).
It wasn't all offense for the Capitals, though it was nice to see all the goals. The penalty kill was perfect again, going six-for-six a man down.
The slow first period, where the Caps were outshot 16-8, kept this one from being called a "60-minute" game, something that so far has escaped the Capitals this season. But the speed and efficiency of Washington's goal-scoring prowess in the second period was impressive to watch.
The last couple of games it's been tough to watch the Caps hit posts and fire wide and generally look uninterested and unimaginitive. Funny how one 20 minute burst of domination can change your outlook on a team. This is what we expected to see out of the Capitals this season.
Hopefully this dominant display woke something up in every player that wears the Capitals logo on their chest.
THE GOOD: Scoring six goals in a period is big, but seeing the power play convert three opportunities, including scoring on a 5-on-3 and the resulting 5-on-4 12 seconds later has to be a relief to all of American's Hcokey Capital.
THE BAD: Six more minor penalties. They didn't come back to haunt the Caps, but they are really playing with fire relying on the kill to continue it's stellar play.
THE UGLY: The only real ugly was the Caps' start, getting down by two goals again -- and it could have been more. Last season the first period was a strong suit for the Caps, but so far in this campaign the opening 20 minutes have been nothing but trouble. Thankfully Neuvirth was up to the task once again.
THE STATS: Nicklas Backstrom (4) from Mike Green (3) and Brooks Laich (3) at 15:22 of 1st (PP). Alex Ovechkin (6) from Green (4) and Backstrom (4) at 3:43 of 2nd (PP). Ovechkin (7) from Alexander Semin (4) and Jason Chimera (2) at 3:55 of 2nd (PP). Green (1) from Semin (4) and Backstrom (5) at 10:28 of 2nd. Matt Bradley (unassisted) at 10:41 of 2nd. Semin (6) from Ovechkin (6) and Backstrom (6) at 13:33 of 2nd. David Steckel (penalty shot) at 18:23 of 2nd.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 7:00 pm against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center.
CAPS NOTES: Boyd Gordon returned to the lineup. He took a delay of game penalty and skated 25 shifts for 16:28 TOI, including 5:09 shorthanded. Eric Fehr and Mattieau Perrault were healthy scratches.
CAPS NEWS NETWORK THREE STARS
3. Nicklas Backstrom. Goal and three assists. Super Swede has his best game of the season.
2. Mike Green. First goal of the season and two helpers. Starting to look like he feels better.
1. Alex Ovechkin. Two power play goals when the contest was still in doubt and a helper on Semin's marker.