Capitals-Canadiens Review: Rookie Goalie Steps in for First Win

chad lamasaCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2008

First let me say Happy 39th Birthday to Sergei Federov.

This obviously wasn't the story of the game though. The Capitals played their second game in as many nights in Montreal and came away with a 2-1 victory. The Caps have struggled in the second game of back to backs all season. It was nice to see them get the victory tonight.

Nicklas Backstrom got the scoring under way at the 9:41 mark in the first period with a power play goal, his 10th of the season. The Capitals are 14-3-1 this season when scoring first.

The Canadiens tied the game 4:35 into the second period on Patrice Brisebois' slap shot, his third of the season.

Michael Nylander scored his third goal of the season, his first in 25 games, with 3:32 left in the game to give the Caps the victory. Nylander scored off the foot of Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak, on an assist by recent call up and Quebec City native Alexandre Giroux.

The true story of the game was Simeon Varlamov, the 20-year-old rookie goaltender for the Capitals.

Varlamov was the Capitals' first round pick in the 2006 draft, selected 23rd overall. He was just the second goalie ever drafted in the first round by the Capitals, the other was Olaf Kolzig.

Filling in for Brent Johnson, who got the victory against the Ottawa Senators a night ago, Varlamov played extremely well.

He may have had butterflies in his stomach, but you couldn't tell by the way he played tonight. Varmalov stopped 32 of 33 shots. The only shot that got by him was the blast by Brisebois that went top shelf. I'm not sure many goalies would have stopped, rookie or otherwise.

Varmalov had a lot of help from his defensive corps tonight, but made many great saves. He allowed very few second chance opportunities as he didn't give up rebounds.

The Capitals found their pentaly kill again and did they ever need to. The Caps got called for nine penalties during the game.

In the second period alone they had to kill off 10 minutes worth of penalties. The PK unit, which had been struggling lately, did not give up a goal.

Meanwhile the Caps' power play kept rolling.

The final shot of the game went off the rink. A fan retrieved it and tossed it back over the glass to Tom Poti, who in return gave the fan his stick, so that Varmalov had the puck from his first NHL win.

Varmalov and Nylander were selected as the top two stars of the game respectively.

The Capitals are starting to get healthy again as the recent returns of Semin, Green, and Federov indicate. Unfortunately they are hurting between the pipes, thus the reason for Varmalov's call up.

Jose Theodore, who pitched the Capitals only shutout on the season the last time these teams played, was scratched for the second straight game due to a hip injury, and Brent Johnson has been banged up recently, but was available tonight if needed.