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A Memorable Victory for the Caps

If you tuned in tonight, you just witnessed a game that will be talked about for years to come. Maybe longer.

The game's two biggest stars -- Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby -- each recorded their first career playoff hat trick, and the result was a 4-3 win for the Caps and an Instant Classic for everyone else.

Yep, it was that good.

"It's why they are who they are." Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Ovechkin and Crosby. "Because not too many people could do what they did tonight."

Ovechkin's heroics, coupled with another strong game from rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov, have the Caps in firm command of this series, up 2-0 heading to Pittsburgh for Game 3 on Wednesday night.

We've got a lot going into tomorrow's paper, so I'm going to keep it brief tonight:

On a Roll
Both Varlamov and the Caps set franchise records with five straight victories. They've also won three one-goal games in a row.

All Alex, All the Time
Ovechkin's hat trick was the sixth in franchise history in the playoffs and the first since Al Iafrate had the last one against the New York Islanders in 1993. Ovechkin also got the hardhat.

Boudreau Asks for Review
Boudreau said he wants the NHL to review Chris Kunitz's cross-check to Varlamov's face/throat in the final minute of last night's game.

"It was pretty vicious," Boudreau said. "I just saw it. It was a direct cross-check to Varly throat just before Crosby scored if you didn't see it. There was no puck there. Nothing. We hope the league takes a long look at that."

Fehr Hurting
Eric Fehr is day-to-day after a hard collision with Ruslan Fedotenko midway through the first period. Boudreau isn't compelled to call up anyone because he's got Michael Nylander. But that doesn't mean he won't call someone up anyway.

Sloan Chips In
Tyler Sloan, recalled earlier in the day, not only made his NHL playoff debut, he got his first point, too, when his deflected slap shot in the second period went right to David Steckel.

Kozlov Sets Career High
In the last round, Kozlov got his first playoff goal, ending a 21-game drought. Tonight, he recorded the first multi-point playoff game of his career.

Steckel Shines
Steckel is the only player not named Ovechkin or Crosby with more than a goal in this series. Tonight, Stecks also won 77 percent of his faceoffs (10 for 13).

That's all for tonight. I've got to hurry home and find out what time this game is being replayed.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  May 5, 2009; 12:51 AM ET
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Next: Morning Reading List: Game 2 Aftermath


Well, at least the media ia getting what they were hoping for in this series.

Posted by: kittypawz | May 5, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Hope Fehr is okay and can play on Wednesday.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 5, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game and enjoyed the Ovi hat trick. I can't believe Crosby is complaining about the fans throwing hats in honor of Ovi's hat trick. (By the way, Ovi earned the hard hat, like he did when he got a hat trick the day before Thanksgiving.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 5, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

It's good to see that Sloan and Alzner were called up for the playoffs. It is fitting since they were with the team for a good part of the year. I'd like to see Alzner play (but don't want to see any chemistry get disrupted). Thought he'd play today but Sloan played instead. But at least Sloan had an assist. Sloan's a hard worker.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 5, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Great game by Steckel.

Ovechkin can't be stopped.

Gotta get that Backstrom line going.

A win in Pittsburgh and we'll have a strangle-hold on this thing.

By the way, I think it's great that the Caps will push to have the league review the Kunitz mugging. What a joke that no penalty was called -- I'm biased, but the league has to suspend the guy. If they don't, the message is, 'Hey.. it's ok to punch the other team's goalie in the head.' I don't think that's a message they want out there.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 5, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

fehr hasn't done much so far. I also thought Alzner would get in, 75. Sloan was a surprise.

Posted by: oo7 | May 5, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Replay is 2PM on NHLN.

Posted by: Section117 | May 5, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Oh - and Tarik, it's time to get the DVR.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 5, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse


Although Fehr hasn't done much this series, I happen to like the guy. He's sometimes had the worst luck.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 5, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I agree Oneal, If Kunitz isn't suspended, the message is load and clear. Also, Kunitz out is good for the Caps.

Posted by: oo7 | May 5, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse


I hope the Backstrom line gets going next game. It's time for Nicky to score a goal, although he's had a ton of assists. Usually, Semin's good for either a goal or an assist in the vast majority of games he's played in.

Hopefully, the rumors of his hand being badly slashed are false (or not so slashed that he won't be ready to go on Wednesday.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 5, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

I thought the calls overall were inconsistent, but consistently inconsistent. Watching highlights of the Letang trip on Steckel, it's such a great effort to get the puck there I think it's just a great defensive play. They definitely missed the Kunitz cross check on Varly. A bunch of other calls and non calls but as long as it's mildly consistent I won't complain.

Don't get some of the we suck 5 on 5 comments here and other places. We outscored them 3-1 five on five tonight. Both teams had 5 power plays, they had a 5 on 3 but it was legit, no issues. The officiating can be better but it wasn't bad either way tonight any more than it was just as bad the other way.

Green needs to step it up in front of the net.

The Steckel/Brads/Laich line is the unsung hero story for us in the playoffs. Having a 3rd line contributing like this in addition to their solid play is how you make deep runs in the postseason.

Man watching the highlights on NHLN Ovie and Crosby just put on a show. Feel good we got to see this game (I can't believe I got to attend for both their hat tricks), because it's few and far between when the reality > hype. I expect Malkin to play much, much stronger in Pitt.

In order to counter that, Semin and Backstrom need to generate a little more. Seemed a little off tonight although Backstrom did pick up an assist winning a key draw on Ovie's PP goal.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 5, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Pitt was giving Philthy a run for the money in the filthiness department in the last playoff series, the battle for PA. They had a parade of guys going to the penalty box.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 5, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Russian press reports that Donald Brashear is flying in to sign a contract with Russian team Vityaz Chekhov next week. Vityaz GM Aleksej Zhamnov confirmed the story.

Posted by: pryrodny | May 5, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

@007: Oh, that message is definitely a load, all right, especially after the Brash punishment.

I think Sloan was put in for Erskine because he hits more freely and more often than Alzner does. Alzner's capable of physical play, but doesn't do it that much. Sloan positively stapled a Penguin to the boards at least once tonight, and he was pretty solid.

I really hope neither Varlamov nor Semin are hurt. Those are some uncool hits, and I think it unlikely that anything will actually happen simply bcause it's the Penguins, the NHL's golden children. The laws for them are a little different than for the rest of us.

Posted by: kittypawz | May 5, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I went back and watched frame by frame of the Kunitz cross check. There is no doubt he drove that thing at the kids neck in an attempt to injure. Looked to me like he was trying to break his collar bone.

If he isn't suspended by the league for at least one game. Someone on our team is going to get suspended (for more) for what we do to Kunitz.

maybe he'll get the Kjell Samuelson treatment:

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | May 5, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Kitty, Sloan is the more physical of the two. I thought he did an admirable job in his first NHL playoff game, especially given the stakes. To go from baby pens to big pens must have been a little mind reeling.

We'll see just how special the pens are. We might have to storm campbells office. I have some green face paint. don't ask.

Posted by: oo7 | May 5, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

You know what else?

Jordan Staal stinks.

Read some of the Pittsburgh columnists and they still think they have the three best centers in the league. What? Before the series Pierre McGuire was saying how the Caps have no answer for Staal. What?

We don't need an answer for Staal. Staal stinks! He's living off his status as the 2nd pick overall in the 2005 draft.. and that's it. But you know what -- deep down the Penguins know they should have picked Backstrom. The numbers aren't even close. Or they could have had Kessel. It's a huge draft mistake that is manifesting itself in this year's playoffs.

An answer for Staal? I'll take Dave Steckel over Staal any day of the week.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 5, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

2006 draft.. my bad.. I was on a rant.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | May 5, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Glad to be up 2-0. Hope the Caps are fortunate enough to win Game 3.

Fans: From my seat in 426, everyone was great tonight. Absolutely great.

After the game ended, the many Penguins fans at the top of my section were walking past me down the stairs. One, a forlorn look on his face, stared at the scoreboard and told no one in particular ...

"Damn. We can't beat these guys."

Posted by: writered21 | May 5, 2009 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Let me be the voice of reason here (the same one who told you it wasn't over down 3-1 to the Rags when we had outplayed them) and point out all we've done is hold serve at home. All you have to do is look to last round to see a 2-0 lead isn't bulletproof. Granted we aren't the Rangers, but these games have been razor close. I actually think both goalies have been pretty darn good all things considered. When there is this much talent on the ice it's just a shooting gallery for them.

We couldn't hope for anything better than 2-0 going to Pittsburgh, but it's a LONG way from being done. The goal now is to find a way to get a split up there. It would not surprise me in the least to see the Penguins play their butts off and this series be 2-2 coming back to Verizon Saturday.

We've been on quite a roll, winning 5 in a row, and that's never a bad thing. But if that momentum gets slowed down you can lose it for a little bit. Definitely enough for them to take 2 in their building.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 5, 2009 1:56 AM | Report abuse

I was completely stunned that Sloan made it in instead of Alzner. Sure would like to know the thought process behind that. Not saying it was a bad decision but just want to know why. I mean after all Alzner is supposed to be our top D prospect.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | May 5, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I predicted going into the building to my brother and friend that Sloan would get the nod because he is more of a physical presence like Erskine. It kept the balance of that pairing with Pothier pretty stable whereas if you insert Alzner it's more of a change.

Might be totally wrong but logically it made sense to me like that.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | May 5, 2009 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Can NOT believe Cindy was complaining about the hats! Once again, why would parents name their new baby BOY Sidney? He certainly whines like a Sidney!

Posted by: pokerface1208 | May 5, 2009 2:31 AM | Report abuse

Just when I thought Syd the Kid (emphasis on baby) was starting to show some maturity and in turn gain respect he does this. If he gets a hat trick, the fans should throw Binky's on the ice!

Pierre actually said the Caps don't have an answer for Staal? WTF, are you kidding me? I have been saying for quite awhile now that the Penguins don't have an answer for the Capitals depth of young talent and they don't. I have read so many times about how the Crosby has a superior record vs Ovechkin. However, I haven't seen one story or note about how the Capitals are 5-0-1 vs the Penguins this season. Anybody else notice a trend here?

Great comment on Washington Post Live last week. Besides the Capitals, name one other team in professional sports where the five best players on the team are all under the age of 25. The panel on WPL couldn't come up with one. Pretty awesome thought!

Posted by: croftonpost | May 5, 2009 3:02 AM | Report abuse

The CBC feed had this video after the hat trick goal. I'm not sure about the versus feed.

Check out 3:15

I cracked up so hard!

Posted by: Raber | May 5, 2009 3:17 AM | Report abuse

Sidney's hat trick was not legitimate. Kunitz should have gotten the whistle.

Also, his first goal was pretty lame considering that it came on the PP when Semin was inexplicably called for the double minor.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 5, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

I was so excited I nearly peed myself when Steckel scored his second PO goal in as many games!!! Wooohoo! Way to go Stecks!! To have Tyler assist on it -- even better! All of us in Hershey are so very proud!

Go Caps! Go Bears! Go Stingrays!

Posted by: bearslover | May 5, 2009 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Memo to Kunitz, the Pens, and their fans:

Remember that Varly, Ovie, Feds, Big Victor and Semin are Russians. If you know your history, you know it was Marshal Georgy Zhukov's tommy gunners who rooted the Nazis out of Berlin, not the Canadians, Brits or Americans. They are tough. GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: NorthFork1 | May 5, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Kunitz "cross-check" to Varly's face. The League will NOT do anything. Look @ Avery's punch to Varly in NY. I would love to see the league do something about. Just too many dirt-balls in hockey.

Posted by: 555Mass | May 5, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

oo7: Fehr only has like 10:00 TOI for the series, hard to have an impact from the bench

Posted by: remain | May 5, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

From Pittsburgh on Varly, worth reading:

"But goaltending was supposed to be the thing that kept the Capitals from winning a Stanley Cup.....It remained plausible even after Varlamov won four of six starts against the New York Rangers in Round 1 because the Rangers are as inept offensively as the Penguins are explosive.

So far, Varlamov apparently hasn't noticed the difference."


Posted by: xokkeu | May 5, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

There has never been a clearer contrast as to why Ovie is the real face of the NHL. His goals were exciting and spectacular. Crosby's were garbage. Do they count the same? Sure. But which goals would you rather have on your highlight real? Nuff said.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 5, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

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