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Posted at 1:05 AM ET, 12/ 2/2010

Semyon Varlamov, Caps win fourth straight 4-1 over Blues

By Katie Carrera

The consensus at Scottrade Center after Washington's 4-1 win against the Blues was that this was Semyon Varlamov's best game since returning from the groin injury that prevented him from playing for most of the first two months this season.

"I think this was his best game because his rebound control was so good," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He smothered everything."

If you haven't already, check out my game story for tomorrow's paper for a greater breakdown of Varlamov's 37-save night. On to more notes from the Capitals' fourth consecutive win:

--Boyd Gordon tallied his first goal of the season with the Capitals' second goal of the game on a chance that featured multiple bounces going Washington's way after he backhanded the puck toward the net. If anything, that goal should erase any belief that Jaroslav Halak holds a special power against the Capitals.

"I just tried to get it on net and get a rebound," Gordon said. "But [it was] kind of a lucky bounce there, it hit Halak's glove and went off a shin pad."

--Tom Poti did not play in the third period and a team spokesman said he will be re-evaluated Thursday and a game-time decision against Dallas. He was playing in his fourth straight game after missing 17 of the first 22 games this season with a lower-body injury that was believed to be a groin problem. He played 11 minutes through the first two periods.

--For those players who made it through the duration of the contest on Wednesday night, it appears as though the minutes were managed with the second-leg of a back-to-back contest looming. All players saw at least seven minutes of ice time and all but Matt Bradley and D.J. King played at least 13.

In his 7:44 against his former team, King recorded his first point of the season with an assist on Gordon's goal. King's name on the scoring announcement even brought an applause from some of the St. Louis crowd.

--During the Capitals' four game winning streak, the penalty kill has been just as big as Varlamov at times. Washington's penalty killers have thwarted 15 of 16 opposing power plays over this span.

"When you can kill off four or five penalties in a game it really gives a real lift to the team," Boudreau said. "This little stretch, we've been very good on the penalty kill and I think it goes hand in hand with why we've been successful."

--With a 4 a.m. wakeup call awaiting me that's all for tonight but I'll have more updates from Dallas.

By Katie Carrera  | December 2, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
Categories:  Boyd Gordon, D.J. King, Semyon Varlamov, St. Louis Blues, Tom Poti  
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Next: Dissecting a winning streak



My thoughts:

--Was it perfect? No. Was it pretty? No. Was I worried at how STL seemed to be finishing their checks more than us and spending a lot of time buzzing around in our end? Of course I was. But it was a win, people! Last time I checked, an NHL team needs as many of those as they can get (even the ugly ones) to make those playoffs that we all agree are so important. A win is a win is a win, so I'll take it!
--Did we get lucky? Perhaps.
--Was Varly standing on his head the main reason we won? Again, maybe so. But it's a team sport folks, and part of a goaltender's job is to hold the fort when the other pieces aren't going at full throttle.

Another 2 points in the books. Onward to Dallas.

One other thing: Yeah, yeah, I know it's only one game, but did any one else notice that, while DJK's minutes were mostly solid ones, Della Rovere was pretty much a non-factor in the game? Could it be that GMGM might be smarter than some of us gave him credit for?

FTR, I still wish we had gotten Bieksa, though.


Posted by: Rhino40 | December 2, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

It kinda looked like the Caps had lead in their skates. The Caps played on the poor side, but the Blues were atrocious! I mean all the misfires, they had WAY more PPs than us, and just not converting.

Now...I think Varly did save us a bit BUT...

Why is that an excuse for St.Louis but when we lost to Halak it was all on us!!!! some of u are holding the Caps to a double standard! :)

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

The Blues were buzzing pretty good, so it's good that Varly was better. The Caps did a good job for the most part keeping a lot of the Blues shots to the outside. The Caps outblocked and outhit the Blues, too. Not bad. Looking forward to Hannan's debut tonight.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 2, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

I don't as a rule want to see that many shots against, but I did like that the Blues didn't get a lot of second and third whacks at the puck most of the time. they'd get one, it'd go off to the corner or behind the net, and they'd have to get get it and send it back to the point. Could have wished for more carryouts and fewer clears, though.

But for this one game, I can live with it. Taste what it's like to outplay a team and lose because the goaltender in the other net is ridiculous, Halak. Drink it down. Enjoy the justice, because I am.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 2, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Poti is always hurt...always...always...and furthermore, he won't be healthy the rest of this season. Hannan was a must because the Caps are still going to be short all year between Poti and Green. In all honesty they need another defender at some point. If the Caps depend on Sloan to get them through the post season we're going to be just as pissed in April....again.

Posted by: joshu1 | December 2, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

How did Boston win last night?

Tim Thomas.

How has Montreal jumped out to lead their division this year?

Carey Price.

Washington has talented forwards and scoring defensemen, what has been missing is the physical/positional veteran defender (Hannan) and a franchise goalie.

If Varlamov (or Neuvirth) can stay healthy and produce in the postseason as he has the past few games, Washington will be tough to beat.

In case anyone missed the Bruins/Flyers from last night - go back and look at the game Thomas had.

It was the best goaltending performance I have seen in the past 5 years.

He robbed the Flyers of 4-5 goals. On one sequence he flopped one way and then back the other to stop consecutive shots.

It's a shame we couldn't have acquired him in the offseason when he was out of favor in Boston.

He's 36 but can steal a series if not an entire playoff bracket by himself.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | December 2, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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