There's no better way to ring in the New Year than with a dominant win over the East's best team, and the Caps accomplished that feat with flying colors.
Saturday saw the Caps and the Sens duke it out in a defensively shaky performance that saw fourteen goals scored, seven in the third period alone. But yesterday's game was all about team toughness - both mental and physical.
After falling behind quickly by two, goals which were both results of poor defensive plays, the Caps roared back with four first period markers of their own to take the lead. They weathered a third period Senators storm without two of their big minute guys, Semin and Poti. They scored their first five on three goal of the year. They got goals from all areas of the lineup, including Viktor Kozlov's long awaited fourth tally. And they sweep the home and home series against a team no one thought they could beat.
In the first five minutes the Caps looked outplayed, outclassed, and disinterested. You can't give up two quick goals to guys like McAmmond and Neil who, as important as they may be to the Senators lineup, are not renowned for their scoring. It would not have been strange to see the whole Caps bench slump in despair.
But immediately after the second Sens goal Boudreau tossed out the top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kozlov. They danced around the Ottawa defense, passing and weaving through players to set up the perfect play - Backstrom to Kozlov to the back of the net. Follow that up with a dazzling scoring chance by Pettinger, a quick four on four goal by Nylander that caught Gerber napping, and a quicker and more beautiful goal by Mike Green...and the Caps never looked back.
There were some great things about yesterday. First of all, the crowd was big and loud and draped in red, a rarity that hopefully won't be a rarity much longer if the team keeps this up. The Caps continued to prove that they can come back from a deficit and they did it against a team that had only lost four times when scoring first. They got a balanced attack from the top three lines and a handful of points from the blueline. And they got strong goaltending from Olie, who has really raised his game over the last few nights despite the number of goals allowed.
It's easy to say that Ottawa might have underestimated the Caps the first time they lost. The second win was an old-fashioned shootout that saw neither team playing their strongest defense and the Caps squeaking out an eight goal victory. Three wins in a row and maybe the rest of the league will start to take notice - this Caps team is a punchline no longer.
Of course, that doesn't mean the Ottawa Sun has to try and learn their names, right? Figure out what's wrong with the following quote:
The Senators figured out a way to silence Alex Ovechkin yesterday. Next time, they better come up with a plan to also contain Boyd Gordon.
A 24-year-old who entered the day with 10 goals in 161 NHL games, Gordon had his second and third of the season against an Ottawa team that turned in its second straight abysmal performance.
The information about Boyd Gordon is correct, obviously - 24 years old, 10 goals in 161 NHL games, blah blah blah...and he did have a two-point night. But I doubt Ottawa will look back at this game and think, "Huh...we should have shut down that Gordon kid." Good work, Ottawa Sun. That's almost as good as the moment on the NHL Network last night when Neil Smith talked about "Mike Laich".
Washington jumps right back into action Thursday night, hitting the road with their first visit to Boston on the season. They'll face a Bruins team that just snapped a six game losing streak and is hungry to get back into the top eight - they need to carry over the confidence from this home and home series to steal two points at the Garden.
That's a two-point night and a Happy New Year indeed!