There were numerous comments by Washington Capitals players that stated their 5-2 victory over the Southeastern Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning was one of the first complete team wins of the season, as they were firing on all cylinders.
Superstars Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, who have had relatively quiet seasons by their standards, each contributed four points. The victory left the Capitals confident and the Lightning disappointed.
Not to put too much weight into one game, but it looks as though the Capitals may be finding a rhythm that they have been seeking all season. An impressive 3-0 shutout of the bitter rival Pittsburgh Penguins on super Sunday reinforced the impressive play of the Capitals.
The Penguins were without their two best players: Sidney Crosby, still recovering from a concussion, and Evgeni Malkin, who tore his ACL and MCL in the Penguins' previous game against Buffalo. However, the Penguins were winners of eight of their previous nine despite missing the duo for the majority of that streak, a testament to the Penguins' depth.
The Capitals were missing a few superstars themselves: Alexander Semin has missed the past few games with a thigh injury, and the Caps lost All-Star defenseman Mike Green for the game after a Brooks Orpik shot struck him in the head at the end of the first period. However, as has been the theme for the Capitals this season, role players stepped in and found a way to win the game.
Brooks Laich netted his 11th goal of the season in the first period, and that is all goalie Michal Neuvirth would need. Marcus Johansson added a nifty goal in the second, and Matt Hendricks passed on an empty net try to veteran Mike Knuble, who capped off an impressive victory for the Capitals. Neuvirth earned first star honors, stopping all of Pittsburgh’s 22 shots.
Look for the Capitals to find momentum from these victories and make a run over the next few weeks. It seems that they are finally clicking on offense and defense and could find a hot streak at the right time of year.