Two team below .500 teams. Each averaging scoring less than one 5 on 5 goal per game. I’ll be honest; I expected to have lots of time to fill out my NCAA bracket last night. Instead, Alex Ovechkin scored 19 seconds into the game, and the Capitals never trailed Buffalo on route to a 5 to 3 victory. Caps are now “only” six points behind 8th place.
Here are the “snapshots” I would have taken if I were rink side with the photographers (instead of in the press box):
Snapshot 1: Any picture of Alex Ovechkin in the first period. How is this stat line?: he led the team in goals (1), shots (3), blocked shots (3), missed shots (2) and hits (3) in the first period. In fact, each of his goal total, his aggregate shot attempt and his hit total were greater than or equal to the rest of the team combined. Ovechkin this year has been hit or miss. Last night – especially the first period – we saw the “Great 8” once again.
Snapshots 2 and 3: Buffalo center Cody Hodgson in the first period, and in the second and third. Now, I know I am a homer and rarely shoot the other side. But, Hodgson really had an interested game. In the first period, he was 0 for 7 in faceoffs, including losing to Nick Backstrom nineteen seconds into the game, which led to Ovi’s goal. However, Hodgson tied the game 1 to 1 twelve seconds into second period, and made the game 4 to 3 (Caps up) early in the third. Faceoff-wise, he was still below .500 in the second and third.
Snapshot 4: The line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. As you may recall, this was the starting line opening night. Ovi, Backstrom and Johansson were a combined even strength 2 goals and 2 assists, with a power play assist to boot. FYI, on opening night, the starting defense was Mike Green (now injured) and Tom Poti (played only seven minutes last night).
Snapshots 5 to 8 and 9 to 13: Caps power play four minutes into the second with the score 1 to 1. Mike Ribeiro to Backstrom back to Ribeiro to Troy Brouwer – goal. Even strength, middle of second period: Steve Oleksky shot, diving rebound Joel Ward, to Mathieu Perreault, backhanded and backwards shot on goal, rebound Johansson, GOAL. Brouwer said after the game that team was focused on “puck recovery” going into the game.
Snapshot 14: A few minutes in the third, Buffalo’s Steve Ott had an issue with Backstrom that carried all the way down the ice. After the whistle, Ott shoved Backstrom. Ovi, without hesitation, defended Backstrom and a scuffle ensured. Ott was in bad mood that third period, eventually being ejected for unsportsmanlike misconduct.
Jason Chimera scored his first goal of the season even strength in the second. You could see the relief on his face as he was congratulated by his teammates.
Perreault had the prettiest goal of the night. He took a Ward pass just inside the blue line and skated to the goalie Ryan Miller’s left side. He then cut across the crease, and scored on the right. Three Buffalo defenders were within a few feet of him, but none provided much resistance. Perreault has had 3 goals and 2 assists in last four games.
The last time the Capitals played Buffalo (January 27), Marcus Johansson was a healthy scratch, having gone 0 goals, 0 assists and a -5 to date. Last night, MoJo had 1 goal and 1 assist for a +2. He was named first star of the game.