Boudreau on Varlamov: 'He Owed Us One'
Simeon Varlamov giveth. Then Simeon Varlamov taketh away.
If you haven't seen Varlamov's YouTube moment yet, stop reading this entry immediately and go check it out. Not only was his robbery of Sidney Crosby utterly ridiculous, it was the difference in today's 3-2 win over the Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It was also a stop Coach Bruce Boudreau said the 21-year-old rookie owed the Caps after the softie he yielded to light-scoring defenseman Mark Eaton about five minutes earlier.
"He owed us one," Boudreau said. "He let a floater go in from the point. But he made a great save. There's no doubt. Goalies are taught to never give up. They keep fighting. And that's the only way the Brodeurs, the Thomases, the Luongos look like they make great saves, it's because they never quit on the puck. It was obviously the turning point because they would have had the lead and we would have had to play catch up."
Mike Green added: "That's got to be the highlight of the year; it's got to be. That's a tap in. I was out there and I seen it. Nothing made sense. I could see the net, so I was circling back to the bench. I thought I was a minus."
Varlamov leads the league in goals against average with 1.29 and is tied for the lead with five wins. He was also named the first star for the third time since replacing Jose Theodore and his fourth straight win tied a franchise playoff record.
Some other observations/notes/quotes from today:
Evgeni Malkin had a pretty quiet afternoon for an Art Ross Trophy winner. He skated only 4:21 in the first period, though he finished with 20:49. He had two shots on goal, but was mostly a non-factor.
Giving It Away
Literally. The Caps won despite 22 giveaways (to the Penguins' six). Ten of those giveaways occurred in a sloppy second period.
Hardhat For Stecks
David Steckel scored a momentum-changing goal for the 13:50 of the first period. It tied the game, but more important it seemed to wake up the Caps, who had been outplayed through the opening 10 minutes.
"I think it was a wakeup call," Steckel said of his first goal of these playoffs. "We were getting our [butts] handed to us, pretty much. It was a joke. I don't know if it was because it was an afternoon [but] we didn't come ready to play."
Boudreau on Steckel: "He's a big-game guy," Boudreau said. " He took the big important faceoffs at the end with 30 seconds. Frankly, he could have had two or three tonight."
Quote of the Day
"On our side, Varly played well," Alex Ovechkin said. "On a different side, [Marc-Andre Fleury] played well. Post played well."
Ovechkin was referring to the two pucks he rang off the goal post and the one Tomas Fleischmann put off the crossbar.
Caps' Special Teams Are Special
The Caps only got two power play opportunities but Ovechkin cashed in on a two-man advantage late in the first period that was set up by a beautiful slap pass by Alexander Semin (two assists). The penalty kill was also efficient, thwarting all five shorthanded situations it faced (though it got plenty of help from a sloppy Penguins' power play unit).
Odds and Ends
The Caps now have 12 goals at home in the playoffs, which ranks second behind Boston. The Caps' 22 playoff goals are second behind Chicago's 24 (entering tonight). Their 10 first period goals lead the league. ...The Caps are 7-1 all time in Game 1s against Pittsburgh (but 1-6 in those series).
That's it from me tonight. Be sure to check out all of our coverage online and in the paper.
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