Semin Strikes Thrice: Washington Capitals 4, Atlanta Thrashers 3 (OT)

In a game that saw the Capitals battling through juggled lines, injury substitutions, a disallowed goal, and a frustrating Thrasher defense, Alexander Semin reminded us why he makes the big bucks.  Semin carried the Caps on his back with a hat trick on Thrashers goalie Chris Mason before Tomas Fleischmann capped off the game 1:37 into overtime.

After a late-first period Thrashers powerplay goal, Semin tied the game just 38 seconds into the second period.  Mason left his goal crease to clear the puck and inadvertently set up Semin for a wicked one-timer, for which Mason was not completely back in his cage to stop.  While emerging Capital killer Evander Kane gave the Thrash the lead again just four minutes later, Semin struck at 5:09 and 13:28 of the third period to pull the Caps even and then pull them ahead.

It looked like the Caps would walk away with two points when Evander Kane struck again.  With Mason on the bench for the extra attacker and just 33 seconds left on the clock, the cherub-faced teen got his team to overtime with his fourth goal against the Caps in two games this season.

Alex says reading is for winners!

The Good:  The play of Mathieu Perreault.  Sent down to Hershey after a terrific training camp, Perreault centered the second line with Brooks Laich and Semin and had two superbly deft assists on Semin’s second and third goals.  In fact, Semin and Perreault were the only two Caps on the scoresheet until overtime.  If he can play this way consistently, he may not get sent down again.

The Bad:  Allowing two goals in the last minute of a period.  The Caps allowed an Andrew Ladd powerplay goal at 19:02 of the first period and an Evander Kane 6-on-5 goal at 19:27 of the third.  The Caps were playing without Tom Poti and #1 defender Mike Green was limited to 5:39 on the night, of which 5:14 was powerplay time, so the rest of the defense had to pick up the slack:  John Erskine played 24:44, Jeff Schultz 25:31, John Carlson 26:32, Karl Alzner 19:22, and Tyler Sloan 16:28.  Even so, the Caps need to shore up their defense late in periods, as this is a recurring theme.

The Ugly:  There was all sorts of ugly in this game.

Ugly #1:  Dustin Byfuglien running Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth and earning a 5-minute charging major and an ejection.  Byfuglien was also on the receiving end of some John Erskine pleasantries.

Ugly #2:  The Caps held a players-only closed door meeting after the first period.  While the meeting appears to have worked, that they needed one lets on that something is amiss.

Ugly #3:  The Caps’ injury situation.  Semyon Varlamov is day-to-day, necessitating the recall of Dany SabourinMarcus Johansson is day-to-day, necessitating the recall of Perreault.  Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley are still out, necessitating the recall of Jay Beagle.  Plus Poti and Green aren’t 100%.

Ugly #4:  The Caps powerplay, including the general lack of them.  The Caps only earned three powerplays on the night, and while one of them was a 5-minute all-you-can-score, they took two penalties to all but erase that opportunity.

Ugly #5:  While we applaud Mike Green’s effort to spark the dull the powerplay, kicking the puck into the goal isn’t allowed.  Changing the angle of his skate blade was allowed, but because he moved his skate toward the goal and that was the Caps’ last touch of the puck, the goal was disallowed.  It would have been a great story otherwise, as Green was playing his first shift of the game midway through the second period.