Big win tonight for the Caps over "Le bleu, blanc et rouge" tonight, in an entertaining but occasionally sloppy match. The team has now won three in a row and taken 15 of a possible 20 points since the All-Star Break. With the win, the Caps leap-frogged idle New Jersey to retake 2nd place in the Eastern Conference and climb within nine points of also-idle Boston for 1st place.
It looked early on like this one would be a classic, Gretzky-era, 8-7 game, especially after Alex Ovechkin scored a goal that could best be described in French as "surprenant." It might have been better than his end-to-end dash against Buffalo this past December (I'll post a link to last night's goal tomorrow). But Jose Theodore and Carey Price stiffened in the 2nd and 3rd period to turn this thing into a defensive struggle. The Habs have been scuffling badly as of late, looking to join Pittsburgh as the most disappointing team in the league. Before the game, Montreal made a serious of moves that reeked of desperation (assigning Sergei Kostitsyn to the minors, trading for 39-year old Mathieu Schnieder and telling Alexei Kovelev his services were not needed for the next few games) and they played like a desperate team tonight. They also got the benefit of a goal caused by the puck going off John Erskine's stick and another that just trickled by Theodore. All of Montreal's goals came on the power play, so it's not like the Habs didn't get some things to go their way.
But the Caps showed a lot of guts to come back and tie it up on a nice deflection by Dave Steckel. Overtime featured some great up-and-down hockey with good chances at both ends. I guess it's shooting fish in a barrel to say that it's a shame such an exciting game is decided in a contrived breakaway drill, but that's neither here nor there. Alex Semin scored the only goal the Caps would need, trickling a shot underneath Price's arm. The Verizon Center ice looked like it reared its ugly head on Tomas Plekanec's shootout attempt as the puck rolled off his stick as he was making his move. Nick Backstrom cooly put one by Price and Theodore stopped Andrei Markov to give the Caps the win. Hoo-Rah, Ju-Huu and oui oui. One more...for the good guys.