With four seconds left in regulation, Alexander Semin fired the puck down the ice and it sailed smoothly into the goal for the empty netter as he solidified the Washington Capitals victory over the Buffalo Sabers, 4-2, Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
Semin put the game away from the Caps after a hectic final few minutes of play and Washington is now 10-0-0 when Semin scores.
The Caps jumped out to an early lead, scoring on a two man advantage 12 minutes into the first period when Nicklas Backstrom scored on a one-timer off a pass from Semin.
Just four minutes later, the Caps struck again when Jason Chimera’s pass found Matt Bradley crashing the net. Bradley finished with a wrister in front of the goal and Washington took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
“When we try to be fancy and do things we shouldn’t, that’s when we get in trouble,” Bradley said. “We’re just playing a simple game. That’s what we did.”
David Steckel scored again just two minutes into the second off a pass from Chimera, but then things would start to unravel for the Caps.
Mike Green was called for a holding penalty setting up the Sabers power play, which they capitalized on right away when Derek Roy sent the puck sailing over Michal Neuvirth’s glove. About a minute later, Buffalo found the net again when the Caps couldn’t clear the puck in time and allowed too many Saber opportunities.
However, after the two minutes slip-up the Caps defense was lights out. They shut down the Sabers offense and played very strong defense throughout the third period to keep Buffalo from scoring again.
Going into the third period Bruce Boudreau said he told his team to settle down and stay relaxed and focused.
“I told them to stay the course because they were doing a really good job,” said the Caps coach. “I thought they did the right thing and they had a couple good scoring chances.”
Despite a chaotic final two minutes, in which Neuvirth came up with several big saves, the Caps defense held on playing the entire 60 minutes to secure the victory.
“With the exception of the two minutes in the second, we played really well,” Steckel said. “We talked about it before the game and we came out and executed it. We need to build off it.
The Chimera, Steckel, Bradley line has played exceptionally well lately and that trend continued tonight. Bradley recorded his first multi-point game for the first time since last January. Steckel has a two-game goal scoring streak going, and Chimera had his first multi point game of the season.
“They were really good I thought tonight,” Boudreau said of the line. “We are doing a little bit of experimenting. Eventually we get to be pretty confident with what we have and go with that.”
Semin also extended his point streak to nine points surpassing Alex Ovechkin for the longest streak by a Capital this season.
With the win, the Capitals have won their seventh straight game at home and improved to a NHL best 14-4-1 on the young season. The Caps also improved to 10-0-0 when they score on a power play.
Washington will be in Atlanta on Friday taking on the Thrashers. It seems they will need to find Semin in front of the net if they hope to secure a victory and continue to be among the NHL’s best.