February 25, 2013

Devils Vs Capitals February 23, 2013
Game Review

Capitals players celebrate Alex Ovechkin hat trick against Devils in Washington, DC on February 23, 2013.
Photo © Alex Brandon / AP Photo.

Washington Capitals 5 Vs New Jersey Devils 1 = Home Game Win

The Washington Capitals bounced back into winning form, in a big way, on Saturday afternoon - February 23, 2013. Facing the New Jersey Devils at home, for the second consecutive time, the Capitals' offense came alive.

The offense of superstar winger Alex Ovechkin definitively came alive. Though he had been starting to create scoring chances more often in recent games, he had "only" five goals in the first 16 games of the -2012--2013 NHL season.

Ovechkin scored his sixth goal, the first of this game, five minutes into the second period. He would then go on to score another at the beginning of the third, and then yet another goal about five minutes before the end of the game. The hat trick, the eleventh of Alex's NHL career, is his first since January 22, 2011. It's also the first time he has scored a hat trick on home ice in over three years.

Capitals center Mike Ribeiro and forward Jason Chimera assisted on the first goal of the game, while forward Matt Hendricks and defenseman Jeff Schultz helped out on the next one. Ovechkin's eighth goal of the season came about with the assistance of Ribeiro again, along with fellow centerman Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovie's three goals (on seven shots) would have been enough to beat New Jersey's lone goal, which came from the Devils' own superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk, but Washington also got a nifty wrap-around short-handed goal from Eric Fehr (RW), early in period three. About three minutes before the end of the game, Alex Ovechkin and young Caps defenseman Tomas Kundratek combined to help Troy Brouwer (F) score the fifth and final goal for the Capitals.

Special-teams came up big for the Caps, at both ends of the ice. Not only did they get a shorty from Eric Fehr (RW), while killing off a penalty, but the last two goals came while on power-plays. In the end, Washington killed off four penalties in all, while scoring on two of their three power-play chances.

While the Capitals were blasting Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg, they kept the Devils to only one tally, and minimized their opponents scoring chances overall. Washington outshot New Jersey 26 to 22. The Caps had been outshot in 11 of their first 16 games. They had also lost 11 of those games. Maybe there's a connection, well with most of those games, anyway.

Braden Holtby was excellent in net, for the Capitals. He only failed to stop one shot, out of 22, including a penalty shot by Steve Bernier (RW). After a shaky season start, much like last season, he seems to be well settled in now.

Mike Ribeiro may be the current scoring leader in Washington, with (6 G, 15 A) 21 points, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Alex Ovechkin (8 G + 6 A = 14 points) catch up with him real soon. Meanwhile, offensive defenseman Mike Green, who missed his third straight game with a groin injury, would surely like to just get back in play.

This was the last time the Capitals and the Devils were scheduled to meet, for this regular season, anyway. That's really too bad, since this win marks the only time Washington has beaten a top eight, playoff contending team this season.

Caps Postgame Locker Room 02/23/13: Caps players Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward address the media after a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Alex Ovechkin Postgame 02/23/13: Caps captain Alex Ovechkin addresses the media after scoring a hat trick in the Caps 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Adam Oates Postgame 02/23/13 Caps head coach Adam Oates addresses the media after a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

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