Capitals 3, Devils 2
Before I get into the game recap, I'd like to look at what was the most exciting part of the night (other than the final buzzer) for me: Quintin Laing's first NHL goal.
For those who may not know, Laing is 28 years old and prior to joining the Caps this year had played three NHL games, all in the 2003-04 season with Chicago. Laing has been playing professionally since 2000 in places like Jackson, Mississippi, Norfolk and Hershey. He's blocked nine shots in his first four games with the Caps, twice blocking four. He grinds, he works, he hits, he gives up the body and now, at age 28 and after more than six full seasons in the pros, he is an NHL goal scorer. The fact that his goal was the game winner makes it even sweeter.
Just three days after being beaten by a goal in Newark, and called out by their coach, the Capitals returned the favor on home ice behind goals by Nicklas Backstrom, Jeff Schultz and Laing.
The Capitals were solid in the first, dominant in the second and came out looking like crap in the third. While there are no excuses for coming out as disorganized as the Capitals did in that period, it looks worse than it was because of the fact that Olaf Kolzig let in a goal he simply shouldn't have. It was a decent play by David Clarkson to win the puck behind the net, pull down the Capitals defenseman (either Schultz or Shaone Morrisonn) without being noticed by the officials and put the puck on net, but Kolzig has to have that puck. Period.
I think it's worth noting what helped the Caps get back on track: a great shift by Bradley, Laing and David Steckel. That's exactly what you want your third/fourth/checking line to do - go out and create momentum for your team and keep the puck away from the opposition when they seem like they've got things going.
Next up: Rangers, in D.C., on Friday.
DMG's 3 Stars
(1) Quintin Laing - 1 goal (the game winner), +1
(2) Nicklas Backstrom - 1 goal, +1
(3) John Erskine - 2 assists
- Man, does Nicklas Backstrom ever have some poise with the puck in front of the net.
- Milan Jurcina had six hits; Schultz had three for the second game in a row (Ovechkin had five; Brash had three)
- Whether or not the play at the end of the first should have been reviewed to see whether the Caps should have had a goal is debatable, and that debate took away from something important on the play: Tomas Fleischmann going hard to the front of the net and digging around. Look like Fleischmann may be realizing that, despite his successes in the AHL, he isn't skilled enough to get by on skill alone at the NHL level.
- Is it wrong that as soon as Craig Laughlin said "to me, that's not a kick", suggesting the Devils goal would stand I thought 'Oh, good, this is getting waived off'? Seriously, Laughlin has be awful this year at predicting when goals would be called off/allowed to stand. But then this is also the same guy who tonight said "getting that shot [from the point] through is a skill and the Caps' young defensemen have been able to do it all season long".
- Tough guy, that David Clarkson. Wouldn't go with Brashear off the draw early in their shifts about five minutes into the third but had no problem shoving Brash in the back after the whistle at the end of the shift.
- Brian Pothier was scratched again - no surprise with how this lineup played against Atlanta a few days ago.
- With his goal tonight Jeff Schultz leads the team with a 27.2 shooting percentage. Just sayin'...