April 16, 2014

Washington Capitals Game 31 Recap: Ovechkin’s 4 goals lift Capitals past Lightning 6-5 in shootout

Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Mikhail Grabovski celebrate Alex Ovechkin's fourth goal of the game.(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Mikhail Grabovski celebrate Alex Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the game.(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Down three goals in the first period alone, a comeback seemed unlikely for the Washington Capitals, but a resurgence led by Alex Ovechkin’s 4 goals paved the way to a 6-5 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night. [Read more...]

D.C. United Open Cup Game Recap: De Rosario’s hat trick sends United to quarterfinals

Dwayne De Rosario scored all three goals in D.C. United’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union tonight at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., as United defeated its Major League Soccer rival to advance to the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. United will host the New England Revolution at the SoccerPlex on June 26 (7 p.m.). New England beat the New York Red Bulls, 4-2, tonight.

Despite an awful start to the MLS season that has seen United post a 1-10-3 record in 14 matches, United now finds itself just three victories from a trophy in 2013, one that would be the club’s third Open Cup championship. United also won the Open Cup, now in its 100th edition, in 1996 and 2008. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 38 Recap: Ovechkin Nets Hat Trick, Caps Hold Off Late Panthers Push in 4-3 Victory

In a crucial game against a non-playoff team, the Washington Capitals staved off a late push from the Florida Panthers on Saturday night to escape Sunrise, FL with a 4-3 victory. Alexander Ovechkin recorded his second hat trick of the season as the Caps took a 4-0 lead inside the first two periods, only to allow three goals inside the final 14 minutes of regulation to the struggling Panthers.

Despite a shaky third frame, Braden Holtby earned his 17th win of the season in a 23-save effort. Mike Ribeiro also scored and Nicklas Backstrom earned three assists, while Marcus Johansson added two assists and Ribeiro and Mike Green also recorded helpers.

Capitals captain Ovechkin is peaking at perhaps the best possible time for his franchise as it attempts to slip into a playoff berth. His trio of goals has vaulted him into third in the NHL in goals, with 23, and more importantly has powered Washington’s offense over its past 13 games, with 14 goals in that span. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 17 Recap: Ovechkin’s hat trick fuels rout of Devils

Thursday night’s loss to the New Jersey Devils was perhaps the low point of the shortened season for the Washington Capitals, as the team was in danger of completely falling out of the playoff chase with many more losses. But following the disastrous third period Thursday, the Capitals put perhaps their most complete third period of the season in a 5-1 rout of New Jersey Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.

Alex Ovechkin scored his first hat trick in over two years – and his first at home in over three – as Washington shrugged off an Ilya Kovalchuk equalizing tally late in the second to roll past the Devils with their first four-goal period of the season.

“Sometimes I feel that the puck doesn’t want to go in,” Ovechkin said afterwards. “Today, it was that kind of game hat almost every shot goes in, or at least it feels like that. It’s kind of nice.”

With the noon start, both teams started off at a sluggish pace, with the best chance for Washington being Wojtek Wolski’s miss of a wide-open net in the first, as the forward shot a bouncing puck across the goal line with a wide open cage.

But just over five minutes into the second, Ovechkin made his presence known, shaking off a hit along the wall and then moving in to the Devils zone and blasting a one-time pass from Mike Riberio past Devils netminder Johan Hedberg for the first goal of the game.

After the goal, Washington, fresh off losing a 2-1 lead late in the game Thursday, played tentative in the rest of the frame, allowing a penalty shot to Steve Bernier which Holtby stopped. Although the Caps looked like they might escape with the lead into the break, Kovalchuk picked up a puck that came loose and wristed it past Braden Holtby with just :37.5 left in the second.

Unlike Thursday, in the intermission, Washington regrouped and were able to record just their sixth win of the season.

“We stayed with it,” forward Mike Ribeiro said. “We didn’t drop our arms or quit… when they scored that goal at the end of the period. We just came out and did the same thing we had to do and stuck with the game plan. Most of the time, the teams that stick with the game plan the longest will win games.”

Just 83 seconds into the final frame, Ovechkin took a stretch pass from Matt Hendricks, and using Anton Volchenkov as a screen, wristed a shot from the top of the circle through the defenseman’s skates and past Hedberg.

Things seemingly turned ominous when John Erskine was whistled for a delay-of-game penalty less than a minute after the goal. Unlike Thursday where the game came unraveled on the penalty kill, though, Washington used it to their advantage as Eric Fehr notched the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season.

With Hedberg going behind the net to play the puck, Fehr charged in and left the goaltender in no-man’s land. Fehr collected the biscuit and scored a wrap-around insurance goal, giving the Caps an important boost in both confidence and on the scoreboard.

For Fehr, it was his fourth goal in his 14th game of the year, a bargain for the $600,000 contract he signed in January after scoring just two with Winnipeg last season.

“Obviously, a two-goal cushion is big,” Oates said. “The last few weeks [Fehr] seemed to have a lot of jump and has been making good decisions and getting more involved in the game, and I have been trying to find more minutes for him.”

“It was a very big goal for him, and give us much breathing room,” Ovechkin said.

Armed with the lead, Ovechkin capped his first hat trick at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with a one-tier off a Riberio feed for the hat trick.

For good measure, Ovechkin added an assist on Troy Brouwer’s goal with just 2:51 left in regulation, capping the 5-1 win and giving both Ovechkin and Brouwer the team lead with eight goals on the year.

“I kind of figured he was going to shoot it because he’s got a hot hand tonight, but he’s a good player and sees the ice well and you’ve got to be ready,” Brouwer said.

Afterwards, the Caps’ captain talked about how well his line played.

“I think our line has great chemistry right now,” Ovechkin said. “[Jason Chimera] knows exactly what to do, I know exactly where Chimmer’s going to be, and we talk before the games, between periods, especially Ribs, a guy who controls the puck is in between us. We win the game, our line finally gets plus, it’s kind of cool.”

While Saturday’s game wasn’t a must-win for Washington, it was pretty close, as the Capitals were in danger of falling 8 points out of the Southeast chase by night’s end.

But instead of folding the tents after Thursday’s crushing setback, the Capitals came back with a complete effort, and will get another big challenge Tuesday when division rival Carolina comes to town as Washington looks to chip away at the gap between them and the playoff pack.

With the effort Saturday, Hendricks said he hopes the team gets on track.

“We came out and played our game,” he said. “We played a full 60 minutes. We talked earlier about being 100 percent committed to the system not only in the defensive zone, but in the neutral zone and the offensive zone. We played a full game.

“That’s something we need to build on.”

GAME 48 RE-CAP: Hattie for Matty; Caps win without young guns

It’s awesome. You can’t describe that feeling. This is what you dream of. You dream to play in the NHL, but when you get a hat trick, it’s even better. It was just a great feeling.” –Mathieu Perreault after his first career hat trick.

While President Obama was addressing the Nation a few blocks away, the Verizon Center erupted in shock and joy as Mathieu Perreault got his first career hat trick and the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, 5-3.

Ice scattered with hats and Hat Trick graphics on scoreboard for Perreault

Earlier in the day, things looked grim to some. The last game that both Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom did not play was back on Jan. 31, 2006. Last night was the first game without all three “big stars” since they were drafted, (Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green).The Washington Capitals needed to have players step up their game. And they did indeed. [Read more...]

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