“When you’re hopefully getting out of a little funk it doesn’t go from low to high. It takes little steps, so hopefully Wednesday we’ll be better than we were today.” – Coach Bruce Broudreau after win
The Washington Capitals defeated the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in front of the 115th consecutive sellout at Verizon Center.
The Caps were on a four game losing streak and it was time to win. Fans, players, coaches, media, everyone knew it was time. Many referred to the game as a “must win.” And the Caps did win and the victory music returned! DJ Pauly D’s “Beat Dat Beat” was blaring as the media entered the locker room after the game and players booed when it was turned off. Boudreau told the players and the media that, “it’s nice to hear the music.”
The victory marked Bruce Boudreau’s 200th NHL win, the fastest coach to reach the milestone breaking Don Cherry’s record. “I would’ve traded 199 of them for that one today,” Boudreau said. “When you don’t win for any length of time, it gets tougher. It came at a good time.”
The big news before the game was that Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career since his rookie year (2003-04). Some fans were angry and some even cheered when the scratches appeared on the scoreboard. Semin was at Verizon Center, however, did not speak to media.
Boudreau explained to media why Semin was scratched. “He’s taken penalties seven games in a row. At some point you have to be accountable for your errors. I don’t like doing those things to people that are that talented, but everybody’s gotta know that everybody is accountable. It was a tough decision, but it was a decision that I thought needed to be made for the group.”
Caps fans started to feel uneasy when the Coyotes took the 1-0 lead with a shorty on a Carlson turnover.
With only 54 seconds left in the first period, Matt Hendricks and Kyle Chipchura dropped their gloves and got the quiet crowd fired up. Having received five minutes for fighting, Hendricks exited the rink for rest of first period. Before skating off, Hendy gave the Caps bench a look as if he was saying, “Okay guys, I got it started, now do something with this energy.” ”I was just trying to get a little spark going,” Hendricks said.
After starting the second period with Lauri Korpikoski scoring on penalty shot and Yotes up 2-0, everything turned around for the Caps. Hendricks’ fight did spark something.
The first “rally balloon” (more on rally balloon later at end of post) was spotted and then John Carlson put the Caps on the board with a long slapshot through a lot of traffic. The second “rally balloon” was on the ice and Verizon Center crowd booed the ref when he removed the red balloon. Immediately following, Cody Eakin scored his first NHL goal at Verizon Center and his second career goal from a Schultz assist.
After being down by two, Cody Eakin said, “We didn’t get discouraged. Everyone said, keep going, keep doing what we’re doing, that’s the right way to play. Work it [the puck] behind the net, get it [the puck] in deep and make it hard on their d-men [defensemen] and forwards, so that’s what we did.”
“We were still positive,” Nicklas Backstrom said explaining the spark after first period. “We had a good feeling. I think our first period wasn’t that bad and we felt like we had chances. We just had to keep going and that’s what we did. Overall, I think we had a good game.”
The Caps played a strong third period and scored another two goals. Backstrom scored with assists by Ward and Ovechkin and Brooks Laich scored a much needed power play goal (5-on-3) which turned out to be winning goal.
“Obviously, it’s not fun to lose. It’s always fun to be back on track,” said Backstrom. “Makes it much easier for you if you win hockey games and [then you] come [to] practice the next morning and smile a little bit more. ”
Several of the Capitals weighed in about the win and their play performance after the game.
“We’ve got a lot of leaders in this room. A lot of guys say the right things. It’s a matter of getting everyone on the same page and doing the right things,” stated Matt Hendricks.
Alternate Captain Mike Knuble said, “I think we won today the way we wanted to. You can look back at their goals – one was a breakaway and one was a penalty shot – so I think we were very proud of our defensive effort. We limited their chances and it was a big difference tonight.”
Alternate Captain and number one star of the game, Nicklas Backstrom stated, “I think we worked smarter. All over the ice, we made the right decisions. They had a two – nothing lead, but in our group we felt good anyway and I think Marcus [Marcus Johansson], Eaks [Cody Eakin] and Wardo [Joel Ward] getting us going in the second period, that’s a good thing. ”
Defenseman Dmitry Orlov was recalled from Hershey on Sunday and made his NHL debut tonight. Orlov logged in 11:56 of ice time and tallied three hits. “I was very happy with him,” Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau continued, “He didn’t try to do too much in his first game…He played it smart and took a lot in the last 24-hours, all in English and did pretty well at it.”
Translated by Russian reporter Slava Malamud, I asked Orlov about his NHL debut game. “I feel great. I especially feel happy because the team won and I think that I’ve helped the team to win. So yes, it is a great day for me.” Playing in the NHL lived up to Dmitry’s expectations, ”Because this is the league that I have been dreaming to play in and overall the feelings are very pleasant. This is the best league in the world.”
The “Rally Balloon” = Two red balloons found their way onto the ice during the second period and fans decided to give the “rally balloon” credit for the Caps’ spark and win. It has taken on a life of its own already. The rally balloon already has its own Twitter account and t-shirt.
Check out the balloon in action….
GAME NOTES AND REMINDERS:
- Tonight also marked Jason Chimera’s 600th career NHL game. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 9, 2000 while with Edmonton in a 4-2 loss to Los Angeles.
- In case you live under rock, Sidney Crosby played in his first NHL game this season and played well. Alex Ovechkin was asked about Sid’s performance tonight and was very gracious.
- Tonight’s game was part of the Hockey ‘N Heels event.
- Bring your canned goods to the next game, Wednesday, Nov. 23. First 2,000 get a John Carlson poster.
- Remember to vote for the Caps for NHL All-Star game
- 24/7 DVD Launch Party
- Remember to buy your new Courage Caps and T-shirts