Ahahaha is bestttt!!!))) goal!!!! (TWP)
The Washington Capitals won their eighth consecutive game on Tuesday night, mauling the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 inside Verizon Center. Getting goals from Jack Hillen, Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson, and Martin Erat, the Capitals jumped out to a big lead against the opposition for the second game in a row but unlike Saturday night against Tampa, Washington buried their opposition with strong play in the final period and another solid performance in goal from Braden Holtby, who made 29 saves. With the win, the Capitals are now 24-17-2 and have virtually locked up a playoff spot, with the Southeast Division championship being their most likely outcome in terms of seeding.
Alex Ovechkin was great on Tuesday night once again, dominating play the entire game and adding another goal to boost his league-leading total to 27. He added an assist to get another point and climb closer to the NHL scoring lead, continuing to drive forward in one of the most improbable individual player turnarounds in recent memory. He's probably going to win the Rocket Richard Trophy and may win MVP, and though this recent run has been aided by a ton of shooting luck, he's still earned his chances and shots with great all-around play. It continues to be a joy to watch, as crazy as this whole thing seems. Here's to the shooting luck hanging around.
John Carlson was under fire earlier this month after some lackluster play in his own zone, but has turned it around both defensively and offensively recently and recorded a multi-point game on Tuesday. Carlson is still young and though he has yet to mature to his full ability, he is very good and getting better in small increments. There were always going to be some growing pains with him as he develops in to the stud that we all hope he can become, and that's simply what we are seeing here. Carlson is good, and he played very well in this win.
Martin Erat scored his first goal in a Capitals uniform in this game, and he earned it by driving to the net and tipping in an errant Alex Ovechkin point drive for a beautiful tally. Erat’s injury early in his Capitals career has kept us from really seeing how he can affect this lineup top to bottom, but with everyone healthy, he really makes them more formidable offensively and a bit more responsible defensively, especially if he plays with Ovechkin. I still worry about the long term effects that this trade will have both on player development and on the salary cap, but it seems to be working right now.
Mike Green had two assists on Tuesday, and both were very pretty power play markers. Now up to ten goals and 19 points in 30 games this season, Green has come on very strong along with Ovechkin and Backstrom in the last month to help power this team’s improbable drive to the playoffs. He’s not what he was in 2009, and he never will be. But he’s a very good player playing very good hockey in terms of doing what he does best: driving offense. He’s not a defensive defenseman, but he plays the offensive aspect of the game better than almost any defenseman in the NHL when he is on like this. Washington is lucky to have him when he is healthy.
This win was a statement to me. Yes, it is true that the Leafs sat their potential Vezina Trophy candidate goaltender and were playing their second game in 24 hours, but the Caps came out buzzing against a playoff team and absolutely thrashed them. It’s undeniable that the Caps’ weak Division has aided this meteoric rise, and though that doesn’t mean what they have done is any less impressive, a win of this magnitude from a more powerful division, so to speak, was encouraging for a bit of a playoff run. The string of tough games continues through the end of the season, so we’ll have to see how DC reacts down the stretch before making a full on judgment. But so far, so good.
The Capitals will be off Wednesday and are next in action Thursday night in Ottawa against the Senators at 7:30.
Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR. Follow him on Twitter here for all your news needs this season.