The Habs had the offense rolling, again, yet they were unable to come away with another desperately needed win on home ice...was Carey Price to blame?
Washington won the game in overtime by a 5-4 scoreline. Alex Ovechkin found a way to score his first career goals at the Bell Centre, scoring two on two seperate but equally wicked wrist shots from long range. The Caps are able to score goals, and them scoring 5 shouldn't be considered surprising, as in recent games they defeated Ottawa twice, tallying at least 6 goals in both of those games. The key to Washington's new found success has been the use of Mike Green as an offensive powerhouse. The 22 year-old has flourished upon the announcement of Bruce Boudreau as head coach. He now leads all defensemen with 11 goals, and also picked up two assists in the contest. For those who don't know him, Green was a 29th overall selection in 2004. Bruce Boudreau said "He's a great young player and I don't know too many defensemen his age that can do what he can do at the NHL level." Green has really been the come-out-of-nowhere story of the year so far, and if he can continue to do what he is doing so efficiently, the Caps might win a lot more games.
Nicklas Backstrom and Boyd Gordon were also able to beat Price tonight. Backstrom kept and shot on a 3-on-2, and was able to beat Price from a good way out high glove side with a wrister. That goal, despite the quality of the shot, could have been deemed 'weak' on Price's behalf, but it was nothing compared to Boyd Gordon's. Gordon broke the blue line as he carried the puck in from his own zone, and unloaded a slapshot from the right wing that simply handcuffed and beat Carey Price. Price was looking to the stars immediately after the puck hit the mesh, knowing that he REALLY should have had that one.
The Habs, however, never said die. They started the game with a two goal lead, with the first coming off a beautiful slap pass from Kovalev cross ice to Plekanec, who saw nothing but net with Kolzig down and sprawling to adjust from the surprise Kovalev had created for him. Then, we were able to see a candidate for goal of the week, and possibly goal of the year for the Habs. Andrei Kostitsyn went one on one with Mike Green. He shifted left, then, just as Green bit the bait and focused on playing the puck rather than the man, Andrei made a beautiful drag-through play, passing the puck between Green's skates, and blew past him on the right side. That left Andrei with a tight angle and little time to do anything, with Green recovering and hounding him down. Kostitsyn coraled the puck, made a quick backhand-forehand stickhandle, and released a bomb of a wrister (if you have read ANY of my other articles regarding Andrei, you'll know that the wrist shot is his bread & butter) that beat Kolzing cleanly to hit the far left corner. What a goal...
The Caps went on to score 3 unanswered, and the Habs played catch-up from then on. They tied the game at 3, on a PP goal from Hamrlik, who was able to slam home a deflected point shot that had gone off the backboards. And, after Ovechkin scored his 2nd of the night to put the caps up 4-3, Kovalev came in one-on-two, dragged the puck into his body, and used that momentum to release a beautiful wrister from well out, mirroring goals previously seen in this game courtesy of Ovechkin and Backstrom. Then, in OT, poor coverage from the Kositsyn brothers allowed Fleischmann to get around Sergei, dish off to Nylander, who EASILY got around Andrei, moved in on goal, and passed a beauty over to Mike Green, who had to do well to tap in the puck before Price recovered.
It's safe to say Price did not have a great game, or even a good game, and I will go so far as to say he didn't have a decent game either. Price was weak. That's it. But, as we know, the Caps are rolling right now, and scoring 5 goals or more has been the theme lately. What's important is that the Habs are continuing to play with their new run & gun/creative style, and scoring 4 goals in a game is no bad thing. They maybe didn't get the W, but they didn't get a flat out L either, and that's what they have to tell themselves before they host Chicago on Tuesday. The Habs will see Washington in a home-and-home at the end of the month, with revenge on the menu as the main course.