Good Habits – It doesn’t mean as much in September as it would in January or especially May, but for the second time in as many games the Capitals staged a third-period comeback on the road.
Two nights after rebounding from a pair of third-period deficits to take a 4-3 overtime win over the Sabres in Buffalo, the Caps got a tying goal from Kyle Wilson late in the third and the game-winner with just seconds remaining in overtime from Mathieu Perreault as they took a 3-2 overtime decision from the Blackhawks in Chicago on Saturday night.
After spotting the Hawks a 2-0 lead, the Caps chipped their way back, starting with a second-period goal from captain Chris Clark. Some goaltending heroics from 21-year-old Michal Neuvirth kept the Caps close until their offense had a chance to mesh.
“We got a little lucky on our first goal,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, “but I thought as the game went on the confidence built a little bit. First of all, you’ve got the national anthem. Secondly, they’ve got maybe 17 of their 20 players who are going to start the season in their lineup. It’s pretty intimidating. You can tell why Hershey won the [Calder] Cup and whey you get championship blood in you. They never quit.
Kid Stuff – Several of the Caps young players turned in solid performances and came in for some postgame praise from the bench boss. Perreault was the game’s No. 1 star and Wilson was No. 3, but Neuvirth and defenseman Patrick McNeill (playing in his first ever NHL preseason game) were also very good.
“You see those guys,” says Boudreau of Perreault and Wilson, “and who knows if they can do it out of training camp. But at least you know when you get an injury or something comes up, boom! Those are guys you know will come up here and play their heart out. It showed tonight that they’re capable. They can skate at this level, which is really an important thing. I thought they both played really well.
“I thought both Neuvy and Varly had great games. The first [Chicago] goal, even the ref admitted – I asked him to watch it on the replay to see if they would have called a penalty or one of those no goal but no penalty things – and he agreed with me in the third period that that might have been the right call.
“I really liked Patty McNeill’s [game and] the way he skated. And after the first period of maybe intimidation a little bit of his first [NHL preseason] game, he really settled in and he can skate. He made very safe, good plays. I thought he was good.”
Hard Luck Laich – Caps forward Brooks Laich sported the alternate captain’s “A” for Saturday’s game in Chicago. He had a trio of terrific scoring opportunities in the third, but was unable to light the lamp. Laich hit the post twice, and with the final seconds of regulation ticking down, he broke down the left side and squeezed off a final shot, only to have it snuffed by ex-Caps goalie Cristobal Huet.
Captain Comeback – Clark turned in a second straight strong performance as the Caps captain looks to return to form after a pair of injury-riddled seasons. Clark and linemates Wilson and Alexandre Giroux created a lot of scoring chances and were responsible for potting both of the Caps’ first two goals on the night.
“He worked hard,” says Boudreau of Clark. “He’s getting better. Timing with him is a big thing. As timing improves with the more games he plays [he’ll be better]. Let’s be honest. In the last two years, health-wise he hasn’t played very many games. It’s going to take a while for him to get his timing back so that’s why he’s playing a lot of preseason games.”
No Power – For the second straight game, the Caps’ opponent had the first four power plays of the game.
Killers – For the second straight game, Washington’s penalty killing corps turned in a spotless performance. The Caps are 10-for-10 on the kill during the preseason, and they’ve been shorthanded for a total of 19:24 in the two contests.
Go West – Saturday’s game marks the first time the Capitals have visited a Western Conference building for a preseason game since six years ago this very night. Washington traveled to Detroit for a preseason tilt with the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Sept. 19, 2003.
The last time the Capitals and Blackhawks hooked up in the preseason was 10 years ago in a neutral site game at Columbus, which was not yet an NHL city at the time.
Kings Class Reunion – Three members of the Los Angeles Kings draft class of 2001 were on the ice for Saturday night’s contest between the Capitals and the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Washington center David Steckel was the Kings’ second choice (first round, 30th overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Chicago defenseman Richard Petiot was the Kings’ sixth pick (fourth round, 116th overall) in ’01. And Hawks goaltender Cristobal Huet was Los Angeles’ ninth choice (seventh round, 214th overall) in the 2001 draft.
10/10 Club – Hawks winger Ben Eager was one of only four players in the NHL last season who had 10 or more goals and 10 or more fighting majors. Boston’s Milan Lucic, Colorado’s Cody MacLeod, and New Jersey’s David Clarkson were the others.
Oh, Danny Bois – Hawks winger Danny Bois was originally drafted by Columbus back in 2001. He reached the NHL for a game with the Ottawa Senators in 2006-07, making his NHL debut against the Caps at Verizon Center on Dec. 6, 2006.
Bois wasted little time in trying to make a mark, dropping the gloves with Caps left wing Donald Brashear in the second period of that game. Bois ended that night with 3:53 in ice time and seven minutes in penalties.
Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge – Actor Vince Vaughn was in the house at United Center on Saturday, sporting a nifty red Blackhawks sweater with the No. 9 and “Vaughn” on the back. He was downstairs near the Caps’ team bus for a while after the game.
Interesting that Vaughn would be in the same building where Scotty Bowman (a senior advisor with the Blackhawks) works. There are those who will tell you that Bowman is the Patches O’Houlihan of hockey.
By The Numbers – Clark picked up an assist for the second straight game. He has a goal and three points in his two preseason outings … Caps defensemen Tom Poti and Milan Jurcina were both +2 in more than 20 minutes of work. Boudreau remarked after the game that he liked the way the pair worked together … John Erskine led the way with five hits for the Caps … David Steckel paced the Caps with four blocked shots and was also the team’s top face-off man on the night at 58% … Poti (26:07) and Brian Pothier (25:05) both logged more than 25 minutes for Washington.
Quotebook: Boudreau on whether any of the bubble players in Saturday’s game impressed enough to earn another look in one or more of the team’s remaining preseason contests: “There are guys that deserve it but whether we have enough time with only four games [remaining] it’s difficult to say. But I think there are guys you’d like to see play again because they played well tonight.”
Wrist shot -
1 - 0 CHI
Wrist shot -
2 - 0 CHI