Alex Ovechkin Finally Wins an Honest Abe

Posted January 29, 2015

When the Capitals met the Penguins at the Console Center in December 2014, they shutout their arch rivals 3-0.  Braden Holtby stopped all 31 shots he faced to capture his third shutout of the season.  Eric Fehr scored two goals, including the game-winning goal.  The Caps were on a roll–but things changed.  With the Caps losing their last 4 games, the feeling was a bit different at the Verizon Center Wednesday.  Could the home team pull off another big win against the Penguins, especially in the wake of their recent losses and considering they just played the Blue Jackets the night before?

But the Caps did just what they wanted to do–they struck first, with a goal by Alex Ovechkin.  It was Ovi’s 28th goal 0f the season.  The Caps are 23-1-4 this season when they score first and 14-1-2 when leading after the first period. And, then, they did what they didn’t want to do and found themselves killing off penalties, which has become all too familiar.  Careless penalties have cost the Caps dearly, and Coach Trotz has been trying to impress upon them the importance of not taking unnecessary penalties.  (I guess the Caps’ prize fighter, Tom Wilson, was dozing off during that speech.) The first period ended with the Caps on top 1-0.

The beginning of the second period brought to mind that Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen were playing against their former teammates for only the second time.  Orpik had played in 703 games with the Penguins from 2002-14.  Niskanen played in 214 with the Penguins from 2010-14.   Just as quickly as that came to mind, the Caps were back at it with their 3rd successful penalty kill of the game.  Then, fans had the opportunity to Rock the Red with the Caps’ second power play of the period.  Ovi sent a rocket past Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, to score his 2nd goal of the night and his 29th goal of the season.  The score was 2-0 at the end of 2.

With former Caps defenseman Brendan Witt being introduced to the crowd on the big screen and screams of “Let’s Go Caps” trying to drown out the cheering Pittsburg fans, the final period began.  A fight between Caps’ Michael Latta and Penguins’ Steve Downie woke up the crowd midway through the period.  The Caps immediately followed that show with their third goal of the night scored by Eric Fehr.  Their fourth tally came less than one minute later with a goal scored by Mike Green.  A chorus of “We want wings!” filled the arena.  But the festivities weren’t over yet.  Ovechkin was slapped with a holding call that put Penguins’ defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on his back.  Caps were back on a penalty kill, that segued into a Caps’ power play.  The teams traded penalties and fists for the remainder of the game, but the Caps shutout the Penguins 4-0.

After the game, Alex Ovechkin, the Caps’ Honest Abe recipient of the game spoke about their much needed win.

“This was a must win game,” said the Great 8. “To score 4 goals was really big for us.  We played hard for 60 minutes.  PK did a great job and Holts played unbelievably.”

Nicklas Backstrom also commented on the win, “It’s a big rivalry and it was a very physical game, but its going to be physical.  It’s almost like a playoff game, but its fun, though.  This game was so important.”

Lots of bumps and bruises for the Penguins, and goals for the Caps–no wonder NBC Sports calls it the Wednesday Night Rivalry.