WASHINGTON – Mike Green collected four points and Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves as the Washington Capitals humiliated the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, beating them 7-1 in front of a loud and crazy Verizon Center crowd. With their win, the Caps extend the franchise record for wins to start a season with seven, and are now the only remaining unbeaten team in NHL at 7-0-0. This was an incredible game from the Capitals tonight, in every sense of the word. They outskated, outhustled, and flat out beat an awesome team tonight in by far their most impressive win of the season. Washington was under a ton of pressure early and in the second period, but weathered the storm brilliantly and picked their spots when they had to in order to win. That’s what great teams do. Man, these guys are fun to watch.
The Capitals got off to a slow start, allowing the Red Wings to pressure them for long stretches and get several good chances. Washington, however, continued to get excellent goaltending from Tomas Vokoun, who made three ten bell saves to keep the game tied early, including a sparkler on Pavel Datsyuk. The Caps were given a power play after the midway point of the period after Todd Bertuzzi ran John Carlson, and took immediate advantage of as Mike Green scored on a one-time from the top of the circles off a brilliant pass from Nicklas Backstrom.
The Caps continued their pressure and struck almost exactly a minute later, as Marcus Johansson took a great pass from Alexander Semin following a turnover and buried it over Ty Conklin’s shoulder for a 2-0 advantage. Washington got another power play late in the frame, but could not convert with the man advantage for the second time, ending the frame with DC in front by two.
Washington came out hard in the middle frame, pressuring Conklin and shooting at will against a Detroit team that was on their heels a bit. The hosts drew another power play less than five minutes into the game, and converted for the second time in the contest when Mike Green ripped a slapshot bar-down from just inside the circle to extent the lead to three.
Detroit was presented with a great chance to get back into the game after the Caps’ power play goal, being awarded a man advantage of their own at 9:10 of the period. The Wings were not able to score during their first minute and 30 seconds of extra man time, but Roman Hamrlik was then called for delay of game to give the visitors a 5-on-3 advantage. Their fearsome two man advantage unit made the Caps pay for their silly penalties, as Niklas Kronwall hammered a slapshot past Vokoun with only a second left on the 5-on-3.
The Caps were able to kill of the remainder of the Wings’ 5-on-4, but Alexander Semin took a high-sticking penalty immediately after the kill had ended to give Detroit another golden opportunity. Marcus Johansson then took a tripping penalty, leading to another 5-on-3 advantage. But Vokoun and the shorthanded unit stood tall this time, keeping their opponents from scoring again and earning a loud ovation from the Verizon Center crowd.
Nevertheless, Detroit kept coming at the Caps in waves, forcing them to be in their zone for long stretches and forcing Vokoun to make excellent save after excellent save. Following a particularly dominant stretch of play by the visitors inside the final two minutes of the period, the Caps caught a huge break when a long slapshot from Matt Hendricks squeezed through Ty Conklin, where Mathieu Perreault was waiting on the doorstep to make it 4-1 with only seven seconds left.
Fueled by their late goal, Washington came out in the third period with a determined effort to shut the Red Wings’ potent attack down. Detroit was able to get some shots on Vokoun, but in reality the Caps’ great defense began to apply a stranglehold. Washington was then able to extend their lead a little less than nine minutes into the game with a Joel Ward deflection to really put the game out of reach. Mathieu Perreault got into the fun for his second goal of the night three minutes later, collecting a loose puck off a faceoff and firing past Conklin from the slot to make it 6-1. Nicklas Backstrom closed out the scoring six minutes later with a deflection of a John Carlson pass from the slot, and the Caps skated off with an impressive 7-1 win.
I remember this summer when the Caps re-signed Mathieu Perreault, and I didn’t think it was a big deal. Few people did. I was wrong. Since Jay Beagle’s injury, Perreault has been excellent on the fourth line, using his speed well and playing defensively smart hockey while chipping in offensively from time to time. Sounds like the ideal fourth line forward to me.
Mike Green: he’s baaaaack. Game Over exploded tonight with a four point tonight, including two on the power play. He’s healthy, he’s one of the best in the league when he’s healthy, and he’s playing like he really wants it. As he goes, so goes the power play, and man is it rolling. Is it a coincidence that this is the case and the Caps are 7-0? No.
Tomas Vokoun: still nasty. Keeping his team in the game early with some ridiculous stops on Detroit’s big guns, the Caps’ new starting goalie was just as amazing in this game as he has been in his last five. This guy is the real deal, and the Caps have got to ride him for as long as they can…which will be the playoffs.
The Caps have Sunday off before returning to practice Monday. Their next game is in Edmonton on Thursday night, a contest that is scheduled for 9:30 ET.