Oveckhkin Led Caps Get 2 from Semin, Win 4-2

January 05, 2010 | Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals are now 1-0 with Alexander Ovechkin as team captain. After losing three straight games since former captain Chris Clark was traded to Columbus on December 28th, GM George McPhee and Coach Bruce Boudreau decided to pick Tuesday night to announce the inevitable, the “C” for the Great #8, and the team responded with their highest shot total of the season (43 SOG) en route to a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Verizon Center. Alexander Semin, Ovie’s Russian teammate and friend, notched two goals. Michal Neuvirth (26 saves), making his 3rd straight start and sixth in the last seven contests, picked up the victory. The Caps are now 25-11-6 overall.

Let’s get to the post game highlights, quotes, and analysis:

The decision to name Ovechkin as team captain was 100% on the money and the Caps sure played like they fully supported that decision. Semin played his best game of 2009-10 scoring two goals, getting involved physically, and flat out dominating along with Tomas Fleischmann (1 goal, 2 assists) when they were on the ice together. Maybe Ovie with the C will help get #28 to play consistently at the elite level night after night, something this team needs from him? Caps fans certainly hope so. But back to the Great #8 as the new captain, I thought defenseman Tom Poti summed it up perfectly after the game in his interview with Comcast’s Lisa Hillary.

“It’s awesome. We’re very glad that they picked him. He’s been the face of the franchise for a long time and it’s well deserved and well earned.” said #3, who was great tonight while earning the game’s 3rd star.

“I know they [the players] were really happy when I told them this morning. This doesn’t happen to often, but the group got up and cheered.  I had talked to a lot of them in the last couple of days and they said that Alex [Ovechkin] was the only choice; he’s our leader, he’s our guy. I think the thing that really sort of shows how he was ready was, when I talked to him a few days ago, he said, ‘I would accept the responsibility, but only if my teammates want me to.’ Like, I mean, if they are happy with me as a Captain, I would be glad to be their Captain. So, he was already thinking about the team rather than thinking of himself, which is what good Captains do,” said Boudreau on the events that led up to the Great #8 being named team captain.

“I’m gonna do my best. I’m happy about it and pretty excited…it shows they trust me. When Clarkie was gone, somebody had to be captain and I am glad Bruce picked me,” said the Great #8 in his post game interview about being the 14th captain in team history.

As for “Flash,” Boudreau made another one of his super decisions by moving #14 from left wing to center in an attempt to jump start the offense. It worked as Fleischmann, Semin, and Brooks Laich had tremendous chemistry in this one.

“I’m happy for Sasha, he scored two goals,” added Ovechkin on Semin.

“When he {Ovechkin} was out they still had a winning record. They’ve got some other ammunition. Semin was a player to watch out for tonight,” said Montreal coach Jacques Martin.

Another good move by the 2007-08 Jack Adams Trophy winner was sticking with Neuvirth in net over the inconsistent Jose Theodore. #30 was solid in goal and made the big save when needed, especially early in the third period when Washington allowed some quality chances to a shorthanded Canadiens team. The only two goals against him were off of Fleischmann’s stick following a John Erskine giveaway and a tally off a Montreal skate (Benoit Pouliot) when they were on the power play. Neuvy is making it hard for Boudreau to get #60 a start but the coach has to focus on victories right now.

“Neuvy played great too,” said Ovechkin on the goaltending on Tuesday night.

Poti was superb tonight, playing his best game of the season. He set up Semin’s first goal with a super strip of the puck in the neutral zone, rushed the puck up 2 on 2 with #28, and then fed the $6M dollar man so he could rifle it by Carey Price (39 saves). #3 had an assist and was +1 in 21:30 of ice time.

Ovechkin did not have a point in the contest but he was setting up teammates all night and it was only some good play by Price that kept him and teammate Nicklas Backstrom off of the scoresheet.

Mike Green played 30:28 of ice time, had an assist, and was +2 in another dominating performance. #52, #3, Jeff Schultz, and Shaone Morrisonn received the bulk of playing time as the pair of Karl Alzner and John Erskine both played just over 12 minutes each. Alzner was okay, although he made a bad decision late in the game to give up a 2 on 1 rush but Neuvirth bailed him out. Erskine seemed to struggle again and it might be time for him to sit a game if Brian Pothier is healthy for Ottawa on Thursday at 7pm at the Verizon Center. An Alzner-Pothier pairing seems like it would strike a nice balance with 52-55 and 26-3. Boudreau would have one puck rushing and offensive defenseman with a solid defensive partner.

One thing that was not good tonight were the two bad penalties that Mike Knuble took down the stretch, the first with the Caps up 3-1, and that brought Montreal back into this one. They were not smart plays but at least #22 owned up to the mistakes afterwards.

“You have those brain cramps once in awhile. You have to control your stick. When you lose three in a row those usually come back to bite you, luckily the guys bailed me out,” said Knuble on his back to back penalties in the third period.

There was more good news in Capitals land on Tuesday night as defenseman John Carlson (Hershey Bears), who was a first round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry draft, scored two goals, including the game winner in overtime to get the Gold Medal for Team USA at the World Junior Championships against Canada on their home ice in Saskatoon (6-5 final). Team USA had blown a late two goal lead to Canada for the second time in this tournament but they would not be denied this night thanks to a great shot by Carlson. The game will be reshown on Wednesday night at 6pm on the NHL Network and it is definitely worth watching again or for the first time, if you missed it (Instant Classic).