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Caps’ Tough Guys Win Big Game

By Rodger M. WoodNicklas Backstrom 1  1After Coach Boudreau’s tough guys, Matt Hendricks, and Matt Bradley disrupted the goaltender and beat down the opposition’s bullies, the Caps played physical two–way hockey, which beat Southeast Division leading Tampa Bay last night 5-2.Once they found out the coach’s strategy of defensemen passing the puck to each other in their own zone worked to force Lightning forwards to make the first move, they broke down the Tampa neutral zone trap, which had been so successful the previous two Tampa games in which they had been shutout.Eight minutes into the game, Matt Hendricks took the final step necessary to make the strategy a sure winner when he crashed the nets, and collided with Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, who responded by throwing four punches to Hendrick’s head and losing his focus the rest of the game.On the ensuing four on four penalty play, Mike Green set up Nicklas Backstrom for the tying 1-1 goal, and ended Roloson’s two game magical shutout spell over the Caps.Upset by his contact with Roloson, Lightning forward Steve Downie took on Matt Hendricks, in their one fight a game series which they’ve conducted the past three games.While Downie and Hendricks were off serving 5-minute penalties, Matt Bradley took on Lightning forward Adam Hall, who had punished Caps defenseman Mike Green moments before with a hard check behind the Caps nets.The fights energized the Caps offense, which seemed to have been intimidated the past two games by those “tough” guys and Tampa Bay defenseman, Mattias Ohlund.The Caps first line of Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Jason Chimera started skating and checking harder, found more open space, and stood in front of the net disrupting the Tampa goalie the remainder of the game.But it was Brooks Laich, assisted by line mates Mathieu Perreault and the ever hard working Jay Beagle, who broke the tie with his 10th goal at the 6:38 mark of the second period.On a power play two minutes later, Alex O’s hard work paid off with his 20th goal, assisted by Backstrom and John Carlson to make it a 3-1 game.With less than a minute remaining in the second period, Lightning forward Brett Clarke made it a 3-2 game with a power play goal, the first the Caps penalty kill unit had allowed in 27 tries.Midway through the third period, Caps forward Backstrom put the game out of reach 4-2 with his second goal of the night, and at the game’s end, giving up a sure goal for himself, Ovie unselfishly assisted on Jason Chimera’s empty netter making the final score 5-2.Caps goalie Varlamov was spectacular in the nets again, stopping 23 of 25 shots.The win, moved the Caps within three points of Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division first place battle.The Caps meet Pittsburgh at home In their own Super Bowl Sunday at 12:30 PM.

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Good Start, Bad Finish!

By Rodger M. WoodSemyon VarlomovAfter a 5-day All Star break, and truly enough time to sort out a winning strategy for the stretch run and April playoffs, our poor Caps still couldn’t get the complete game they needed to beat playoff nemesis Montreal Canadiens in a big test at the Verizon Center last night.Pressing ferociously in the Montreal end most the first period, they took a 2-0 lead on an even man goal by Mathieu Perreault and a power play goal by Mike Knuble, which was also assisted by Perreault.At the intermission, they could rest assured their play was aggressive and power play was working well again, They were looking good and the 18,398 Capital fans attending had to be impressed after their one period rejuvenated play.But then after defenseman John Erskine fell down at mid ice and couldn’t get back to defend, the roof fell in. With Russian forward Andrei Kostitsyn flying on his flank in a pretty two on one breakaway, Habs captain Brian Givonta beat Caps goalie Semyon Varlomov at 8:29 mark of the second period to make the game 2-1.Less than three minutes before the end of the second period, Caps defenseman, John Carlson made a rookie mistake trying a drop pass to Perreault, which was interceptedby Canadiens Thomas Plekanec, who set up Givonta for the tie goal, his second of the night.While they didn’t cost any goals, questionable tripping, slashing, and hooking penalties to Brooks Laich, who doesn’t drawn that many penalties, cost the Capstheir aggressive get up and go in the second and third periods.The Caps worked hard to kill the penalties, hung on in overtime, tied 2-2, but then proceeded to lose their 8th straight half sucked cough drop game on Givonta’s goal in theovertime shootout.Caps goalie Semyon Varlomov was spectacular in the nets again, stopping 36 of 38 shots.After the game, Coach Boudreau chalked the defeat up more to mistakes than Caps lack of hard play.The Caps meet Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay Friday at Tampa. Tampa beat the conference leading Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 at Philadelphia last night to take a five point lead over the Capitals for first place in the division race.

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NameCap

Image by Rodger (WoodSportsPhotography.com)

Clues:

  1. 1. He was born May 3, 1957 in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.
  2. 2. He spent 2 NCAA seasons at the University of New Hampshire.
  3. 3. He played with Montreal and Washington.
  4. 4. He won the Norris Trophy in two seasons.
  5. 5. His nickname was “Department of Defense.”

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