Enjoyyy, everyone. (Clydeorama)
The Washington Capitals hammered the New Jersey Devils in the third period on Saturday, riding four final frame goals past their visitors to chalk up a 5-1 win. Powered by an Alex Ovechkin hat trick, Washington also got a shorthanded goal from Eric Fehr and a power play marker from Troy Brouwer in the five-goal onslaught, only their third game with that many goals on the season. Braden Holtby, making his fifth consecutive start, was solid in victory, and the loss picked the Capitals put of the Eastern Conference basement on points percentage. Still, however, Washington faces a long uphill climb to make the playoffs. Some more observations:
Vintage Ovechkin. There is no other way to describe a dominant performance from a player who has taken his deserved share of criticism, but silenced his critics temporarily with a game that had been coming. All three of his goals sent memories of 2009 dancing through our heads – a wide open one-timer, a snapshot through the defenseman’s legs, and another fling into the goal from the slot. He was dominant, and this could be the beginning of another hot streak. The key, as always, is continuing it. That is what matters, and that is what Washington needs to be successful.
Another solid game from Holtby, who continues to make his case for Adam Oates to ride him through the rest of the season. Oates has given him the reigns by starting him regardless of wins and losses, the way he did with Michal Neuvirth earlier in the season, and the young goaltender has rewarded his coach with good play. There is no reason for Oates to go back to Neuvirth, who is once again stuck on the bench despite the unlucky fact that his good play often came at a time when his team could get him no wins. Oh well. Goaltending is still a strength in the organization.
I think that John Carlson had another good game today. Yes, he was on the ice for a goal against, but it was not his fault and I thought he pushed the pace well offensively. His struggles have been well documented this season after he signed that big offseason deal, but he’s looked better while separated from Karl Alzner and there is still no reason to panic over his long-term future. He’s still a stud.
This win was, overall, very encouraging. After a deflating goal at the conclusion of the second period that normally would have killed this edition of the Caps, they, and particularly Ovechkin, responded dynamically and with purpose, slicing the Devils and their backup goaltender (who has still been very good) to shreds. I still don’t think this is a playoff team, or a good one should they manage to squeak into the playoffs, but I am never going to complain after a win. Now it’s back to practice, and preparing for Alexander Semin’s excellent and offensive Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR. Follow him on Twitter here for all your news needs this season.