Capitals Catch Lightning In A Bottle, Win 4-3.
Troy Brouwer has been underrated for most of his NHL career. He just became a little less underrated after tonight. Brouwer got his first career hat trick (two of those goals coming on the power play) to lead the Capitals to a 4-3 victory over their heated rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning. He also had 7 hits and had 4 penalty minutes.
The Capitals’ two All-Stars (Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman) both contributed as well. Ovechkin got the scoring started just 3:52 into the first period with his 18th goal of the season on a power play, and Dennis Wideman added two assists to bring his season total to 23 assists. Brooks Laich also added two assists, his 14th and 15th assists of the season. Marcus Johansson did a solid job filling in for Nicklas Backstrom and added his 16th assist of the season. Alex Semin skated well, created chances, and added his 13th assist of the year. Mike Knuble and Jeff Halpern each had an assist for the Capitals, their 8th and 9th assists on the year respectively.
The Capitals defense did not have their best night, but they were solid when they needed to be solid. A Knuble turnover near the net led to the Lightning’s first goal, scored by Tom Pyatt. The bigger mistake was made when they let Steven Stamkos open just in front of the slot, which led to Tampa Bay’s second goal. Tomas Vokoun briefly lost the puck in a scuffle, and the puck found its way from the stick of Vincent LeCavalier to the net for their third goal. What’s important though is that the defense played well when they needed to. John Carlson and Karl Alzner continue to play extremely well together. Dmitry Orlov had one of his better nights. He might not have any goals yet, but he has really impressed me with his hard work and willingness to learn. When you see him make a mistake, Jim Johnson or Dale Hunter will talk to him on the bench. You never see him make it again. That’s impressive to see out of a rookie.
The best thing that happened tonight was not Brouwer’s power play. It was something that all good teams do and that the Capitals usually don’t do. They protected their goalie. Whenever the Lightning tried to hit or ice Vokoun, someone was there to back him up. I loved seeing it. It threw the Lightning off their game, and you could tell they were extremely frustrated by it. Huge props to the Capitals for finally defending their goalie. I hope it continues.
The Capitals return to the Verizon Center to play the Carolina Hurricanes this Sunday.