Caps Take Number One Spot

The Washington Capitals reclaimed
the top spot in the NHL standings after defeating future hall of famer Martin
Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils 4-1 at the Verizon Center Saturday night.

The Caps got their third straight
win behind rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth and put an end to the Devils’ five-game
winning streak. The Caps now have 54 points, one more than New
Jersey and Pittsburgh
putting them back at the top, where they clearly proved they belong on
Saturday night.

Alex Ovechkin got things started off
quickly, taking just four minutes to score a wrister off a faceoff that got past
Brodeur so quickly it looked like he wasn’t even ready.

Matt Bradley followed
ten minutes later with a shot that came off an impressive pass from David Steckel,
which Bradley lifted over the outstretched glove
of Brodeur giving Washington a 2-0 lead, and the Caps never looked back.

“We played a complete game,” said Washington coach Bruce
Boudreau. “We took it to them, and I thought it was a great effort on our part.”

Seventeen minutes into the game
Neuvirth had his only mistake of the night. Devils center Rod Pelley cut the Caps’ lead in half with a soft wrister that bounced into the net. Other than
that, the rookie was exceptional and played his best game since being called up to
replace the injured Semyon Varlamov.

Neuvirth, who is just 21 and only
playing in his 10th NHL game, was all smiles after the game.

“I’m
feeling unbelievable right now,” Neuvirth said. “I just beat the best
goalie in the world, so it’s amazing. I used to watch him on TV, so it was
something special.”

Neuvirth got some help thanks to
stellar play form the Caps top line of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and
Alexander Semin, who signed a one-year contract extension before the game. The
line combined for two goals and five assists.

“We’re just able to control the
puck in the offensive zone,” Ovechkin said. “We feel pretty good, and I don’t
think [anybody] can stop us.”

Backstrom increased the Caps’ lead
with a well placed puck over Brodeur’s glove in front of the goal nine minutes
into the second period. And Mike Green finished things off 39 seconds into the
third period with a well executed shot in the high corner of the goal to give
the Caps a 4-1 advantage. The goal was Green’s eighth on the year and second in
two games making him the point’s leader among all NHL defensemen.

After losing the first three
meetings with the Devils, this win was a
confidence booster for the Capitals who are definitely playoff bound and may
be seeing the Devils in the future for a chance
to get to the Stanley Cup. 

“This is great on our part,”  Boudreau said. “When the people are behind
you it’s not hard to get up for the game when you need it the most. You could
feel it in the building, and it helped us to continue doing what we’re doing.”

The atmosphere in the Verizon
Center was definitely like a playoff game, and the Caps matched the fan enthusiasm
with some stellar play on the ice.

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