Capitals frustrate Lightning's system in 5-2 win
For two days the Capitals focused on nothing but how to foil the Lightning and its smothering neutral zone system. The plan Coach Bruce Boudreau and the rest of the staff came up with centered on forcing Tampa Bay to make the first move, even if it meant the defensemen would pass back and forth in mind-numbing fashion until the Lightning flinched.
When Washington established a lead it was able to put that strategy into full swing, bringing frustration from the Lightning and boos from the crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"All it was, was just see what's going to happen. We had a play that we could do if we wanted to and we just tried to wait them out," Karl Alzner said. "We were just trying to see what's going to work against these guys and they stick to their system real well. They're patient, very patient and so you saw a couple times when they did come after us we made a couple plays. It's not pretty, but it worked. You've got to do something like that sometimes."
Boudreau wagered that Lightning Coach Guy Boucher would engineer a way to counteract the solution, but what he was most pleased with after the 5-2 victory was how well all of the Capitals' stuck to the plan for an entire game.
"We had a chance for the first time in a long time, we just focused and practiced on beating Tampa it was what our whole focus was," Boudreau said of the two days off. "It was just about going over a lot of video on them, and we don't have the luxury to do that a lot of times and we did. That I don't think was half as important as the commitment the players had tonight. You could see every one of them were committed to doing the right thing, and they did. We got a couple lucky breaks and won the game."
The commitment was everywhere on the ice as the Capitals drove the net, appeared to knock Dwayne Roloson off his game (in Matt Hendricks's case literally so) and build off momentum gained on each shift.
"We kept the puck in there and we kept the puck deep," Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. "We had the puck longer in their offensive zone every shift, and that's what we need if we're going to create chances like we did today."
--Speaking of Hendricks, aside from his high-sticking penalty that led to the power-play goal by Brett Clark, it was a pretty good night for the gritty forward. The Capitals had chances against Roloson early, but when Hendricks went barreling into the crease and prompted the veteran goaltender to start punching away, things started to change.
Henrdicks answered Steve Downie's challenge after that incident and continues to help fuel the Capitals with his own brand of intensity.
--Alex Ovechkin's power-play goal was his first since Oct. 30 in Calgary and just his third on the man-advantage this season. This was also Ovechkin's first four-point game of the year.
--It was Backstrom's first two-goal game since Dec. 1 in St. Louis.
--The Capitals scored five goals for the first time since Dec. 21 against the Devils with a power-play goal and four-on-four tally to go with it. "Power-play, four-on-four, empty-net: All of those things were good," Boudreau said. "And we had chances for more, but that's the most offense we've had, even if we didn't score, in an awful long time."
| February 4, 2011; 12:54 PM ET
Categories: Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau, Nicklas Backstrom, Tampa Bay Lightning
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