Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day from the Boys in Red

It was a sweet Valentine's Day for the Washington Capitals. They were in Tampa Bay for the second game of a three-game road trip, and since this is Mentor's Weekend, many of the players' fathers were along to spend time with their sons. And what a dazzling display the boys put on!

Michal Neuvirth made his NHL debut in goal against the Lightning. With his dad watching from a suite above the ice, Neuvirth showed he's got what it takes to compete at this level. His glove was "Lightning" fast as he made 31 saves in the game, starting with a couple of saves in the first period against Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. He allowed only one goal in three periods (which was actually deflected off the stick of teammate Staffan Kronwall).

Alexander Semin started the scoring for the Caps with a goal off a give-and-go with Nicklas Backstrom in the first. He went on to record two assists for a three point night, earning him a Second Star designation for the game. Semin now has points in 19 of his last 21 games. Semin's goal was followed by goals from Alex Ovechkin and Shaone Morrisonn (his second of the season).

As everyone expected, the night belonged to Mike Green. All eyes were on Green from the first puck drop to see if he would lay claim to the title of "most consecutive game goals by an NHL defenseman" and Green didn't disappoint. Following his power play goal in the second, the entire Washington team converged on the ice to congratulate their teammate and celebrate his achievement. Green also walked away with First Star of the game. Mike's father Dave Green was there to proudly watch as his son made history. If he scores again today, he'll tie the franchise record for consecutive game goals by players in any position, held jointly by Alan Haworth (1985-1986) and Mike Gartner (1986-1987).

Eric Fehr put up his fifth goal in six games. Fehr says he hasn't changed the way he plays; he's doing what he's always been doing, but the pucks are going in. To outside observers, since Chris Clark has been sidelined with a wrist injury, it looks like Fehr has stepped up his game and proven that he deserves his position on this team. Fehr led the team with six shots on goal last night.

Kronwall had two shots on goal, a hit, and a blocked shot in 12:46 of ice time in his debut with the Capitals.

The Caps are doing some of the things they know they have to do to play beyond the regular season. They took only three minor penalties last night and allowed no power play goals during six minutes of penalty killing. They improved their road record to a game over .500 (13-12-4) for the first time this season. And, much to the delight of their fans, they didn't play down to the level of their competition, as they've been known to do on several occasions this season.

Apparently there was a celebration in the locker room after the game involving shaving cream (instigated by Ovi, of course). The Caps didn't have too much time for celebrating, though; they had to head over to Sunrise, Florida to prepare for their 5:00 matchup with the Panthers. The Caps defeated the Panthers at home just eight days ago, 3-1.

Nex game: Caps vs. Panthers (away), on Sunday, February 15 at 5:00. GO CAPS!!!

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