Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leafs 3 Caps 2 (SO)

For about 57 minutes tonight the Caps and Leafs got us to jump into the DeLorean and head back in time...to the Dead Puck Era. A time when 50 goal scorers were about as common as Halley's Comet and the only thing lower than the offence was the television ratings. Other than Alex Ovechkin's goal in the second period, there were very few moments of brilliance in this one. It was a game played between the blue lines, as the Leafs fired up the flux capacitor and rebooted New Jersey's hideous neutral zone trap. Martin Gerber (seriously, Martin Fucking Gerber! Ottawa ran this guy out of town with pitchforks for crying out loud) and Jose Theodore kept the game at 1-1, with Theo seeing most of the few good chances there were.

Then at about the 3 minute mark, the Caps finally turned it into their kind of game: fast-paced, high-tempo with lots of puck possession in the other team's end. But what really jump started the craziness was a Caps mistake. John Erskine got whistled for very iffy hooking penalty and on the ensuing power play, Toronto's Pavel Kubina (who scored the game-winner the last time these two teams played) fired a slap shot that had eyes, trickling past Theo to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead.

The Caps, as is their wont, came back, scoring on a wild scramble. Of course, it was Brooks Laich scoring the goal. It looked like Laich got the puck into net before shoving Gerber back into the goal. The ref was right there on top of the play in perfect position. That didn't stop Gerber from going all Tuukka Rask out there, bumping the referee and shoving the linesman, earning himself a game misconduct.

From there, our trip back to the Dead Puck Era came full circle as Curtis Joseph, one of the top goalies of that era, dragged his 41-year-old self off the bench minus a warmup. But the rusty CuJo looked more Fred Savage than Judge Reinhold (if you can guess that reference, you win a 6-pack of beer on me) and stoned Ovie cold with a brilliant pad save. He was even better in overtime as the Caps dominated play, outshooting the Leafs 8-0 in the extra session. The Caps got a power play late in OT and CuJo made two outstanding stops on Mike Green and Alex Semin to give his team a chance in the shootout.

Toronto's Jeff Hamilton, an amazing 53 percent in shootouts, scored on the first attempt against Theo, who hadn't faced any shots for roughly 6 minutes. It was yet another reason to hate the shootout: Caps were dominating action, with only CuJo's unbelievable performance keeping Toronto in it and end up losing because of a silly breakaway competition. Nonetheless, the Caps did have three shooters and CuJo stoned them all. Well, except Alex Semin whose propensity to miss the net is maddening. Still, give the old man credit, he dialed up the same kind of performance that Ottawa Senators fans got wayyy to used to seeing in the earlier part of this decade.

Here now are the game highlights, courtesy of NHL.com.

So, until next time, let's say good night to the 5-game road trip and say good night to da bad guys.

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