Matt Cooke and Alex Ovechkin in happier times. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
Once again the Super Bowl Sunday rendezvous between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was a rousing success. Through three periods of hockey, the Caps laid siege to the Penguins’ net and their depleted forces.
Mathieu Perreault won a battle below the goal line to feed Brooks Laich, who was waiting eagerly in Fleury’s paint. His greasy backhander put the Caps up 1-0. On the penalty kill in the second, Marcus Johansson scored perhaps his prettiest goal yet, a no-look backhander. 2-0. Desperate in the third, the Penguins’ offense relented and allowed Mike Knuble the empty netter. Shutouts don’t feel so bad from the other side. Caps beat Pens 3-0.
Quotes of the Game:
“They don’t like us. We don’t like them. That’s the way it should be.” – Bruce Boudreau
“I don’t get it…why are they allowed to punch each other with three referees right there?” – Peter’s mom
“It’s the kind of hockey I like to play. It’s fun hockey. It’s emotional hockey. It’s physical.” – Matt freakin’ Bradley
Too many good things happened in this game to list. Brooks Laich led the offense as we knew he would, Jay Beagle (0 even-strength scoring chances against ) and Mathieu Perreault were rabid terriers in the offensive zone, and Karl Alzner countered nearly every attack foisted upon him. The entire team was at or near their best, and when playing against a Pittsburgh team without its two stars, the outcome was never in doubt.
Two Super Bowl Sunday games in two years, both rowdy wins for the good guys. The Caps have again broken that two-goal ceiling that has been looming over them lately, and now they stand poised to play their very best hockey in the toughest month of their schedule. They’re a more cohesive team right now than we’ve seen all season, and that speaks to Boudreau’s leadership and a sense of cooperation on the team. “It is buying in,” Karl Alzner said of the shift in tone. “It is every single guy on the ice doing the same thing.”
Or you could say it like Mike Green: “We are starting to get our mojo back.”
Net crashed. Go Packers.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg. Interview coverage by Chris Gordon.
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