THE RESULT: After an emotionally draining game against a bitter rival and a two-day holiday layoff, the Washington Capitals got back to hockey Sunday night with a workmanlike 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Caps made it down to Raleigh, NC despite a snowstorm that dumped six-plus inches on the area, and 10,477 braved the weather for a division game.
The win gives the Caps 47 points (21-12-5) through 38 games, tied with Tampa Bay for first in the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference behind Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Alex Ovechkin broke an eight-game goalless drought, and Mathieu Perreault and David Steckel both scored as well, sweeping Carolina at RBC Center for the this time since the 1997-98 season.
Perreault didn't finish the game, though. At the end of the first period, Perreault was the victim of a devastating check by Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason. Gleason hit Perreault high with an elbow and the diminutive center crumpled to the ice in a pool of blood. Gleason was given a five-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct.
Reports after the game indicated that Perreault had at least suffered a broken nose, but more information might become available at practice tomorrow.
The Caps have taken points in four straight games, and have won three of four. They continued their strong play on the penalty kill, killing all four minors assessed.
Ovechkin, who hadn't scored a goal since Dec. 6, broke his drought near the end of second period. The winger pounded home a rebound of a Mike Green shot into a practically empty net. He also assisted on David Steckel's goal earlier in the period leaving the puck in space for the center.
It was Ovechkin's first multi-point game since Nov. 26.
It was a solid road effort for the Caps, still trying to regain some of their swagger after the miserable losing streak. They're not cruising yet, but they are getting there.
THE GOOD: Ovechkin. This team needs their best player to play like it, and Ovechkin's goal and assist last night were important to the game and his well being.
THE BAD: Nicklas Backstrom. Missed on five shots, including from inside the circles on an open net late in the game. To compound his bad night, he won only four of his 12 draws.
THE UGLY: Gleason's hit on Perreault was ugly. Gleason appeared to leave his feet on the hit and Perreault realy bore the brunt of it. Here's the aftermath, courtesy of John Carlson's twitter account:
|(Photo courtesy @JohnCarlson74)|
THE STATS: Mathieu Perreault (5) from Alexander Semin (17) & Brooks Laich (16) at 13:33 of 1st. David Steckel (4) from Alex Ovechkin (28) at 10:26 of 2nd. Alex Ovechkin (13) from Mike Green (10) at 18:02 of 2nd.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:00 pm at Verizon Center.
CAPS NEWS NETWORK THREE STARS
3. Semyon Varlamov. 33 saves on 35 shots. Played within himself and didn't spend his time scrambling around in net.
2. Mike Green. Another strong defensive games, with four blocks, including two of the bone-crushing variety.
1. Alex Ovechkin. Goal. Assist. Eight shots on goal. He did his job.