The Capitals got a taste of sweet revenge as they beat divisional foes Tampa Bay Lightning, who swept the Capitals in the 2010-2011 playoffs. From the opening face off to Semin’s game-winning goal in the shootout, this game was a wild one. There were two goals scored within the first five minutes, and by the end of the first period, the scores was tied at 2. The second period was a bit more calm, as it ended with the score tied at 3. The third period was much like the first: lots of scoring, and very exciting. In a span of ten minutes in the third period, there were three goals. Regulation ended with the score tied at 5.
The Capitals made it a little too exciting in overtime, as they played most of the period killing penalties. Luckily for the Capitals, Tomas Vokoun was able to get the team out of the overtime period with his clutch performance. The shootout wasn’t as great as the game, as the Capitals scored two and the Lightning scored zero.
Not only was the game high-scoring, there were also a lot of penalties. With those penalties came tons of power play and penalty kill opportunities. The Lightning committed seven penalties, but each time the Capitals were not able to capitalize on the opportunity.
The Capitals committed five penalties, but three of them were while they were on the power play, which negated the advantage. The Capitals were 4/4 on the penalty kill, which is very encouraging because the Tampa Bay Lightning have a very potent power play.
Tomas Vokoun had a very rough start, as he stopped just two of the four shots he faced in the first period. After that, he settled down. He kept the Capitals in the game in the second period and overtime, allowing just one goal on fifteen shots in those two periods combined. He allowed two goals on nine shots in the third period, but both of those were the defense’s fault, and there was nothing Vokoun could really do about them. He buckled down when he needed to, and in overtime he showed why he is so highly regarded.
It was a terrific night for the “Soul Brother Checking Line” of Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, and Joel Ward. They were charged with the daunting task of being matched up against the potent Lightning first line of Vincent Lacavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos. That line destroyed the Capitals in the playoffs, but the Soul Brother Checking Line went out there and could not have done a better job. Chimera led the team with two goals, including the game tying goal to send the game into overtime with just under three minutes remaining. Laich got an assist and as always was a force in the transition game. Joel Ward had an assist, and also did a terrific job screening the goalie during Troy Bouwer’s second period goal.
Marcus Johansson had a beautiful goal on a wrap-around to catch Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson off-guard in the first period. He also added an assist on Troy Bouwer’s goal in the second period when he fought for a loose puck and was able to get it out to Jeff Schultz, who made a beautiful pass to Bouwer. Mo-Jo was the second best player on the Capitals for most of the game. He created chances, moved the puck down the ice with relative ease, and also played some hard-nosed defense when he needed to.
While Tomas Vokoun did have a rough game, I think it can be attributed to nerves. He settled down after the first period and looked comfortable in the net. The Capitals have to work on their power play because something is not working. Hopefully some changes are made because teams aren’t letting Ovechkin and Semin get open in the slot.
Another thing the Capitals need to work on is the same thing that has haunted them for the past few years: not taking stupid penalties. Backstrom took two penalties in the second, and Alex Semin made things much more difficult in overtime with his hooking penalty. These penalties need to stop because you can’t expect to give your opponent that many chances on the power play and expect to win. The Capitals also committed two too many men on ice penalties. The Capitals must play more disciplined hockey or this could be a long year for them.
Overall, the Capitals should be proud of this performance. They kept on fighting and proved that they still have that firepower from the 2009-2010 season, and their defense did a great job when they needed to. The next game for the Capitals is this Thursday, when they make a trip up to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins. While the Penguins will be without Sidney Crosby and potentially Malkin, the Penguins are a team that the Capitals cannot afford to take lightly.