Cary, NC – It took all of 17 seconds for the Bunch of Jerks to get the all-important first goal on a great tic-tac-toe play ending with Warren Foegele slapping in the first shot of the game off a phenomenal pass from Jaccob Slavin. So far, each team that has scored the first goal has gone on to win as both teams also had impressive records during the regular season for a win after scoring the initial goal.
The Caniacs were in playoff shape with tailgates starting as early as 1 PM with news crews with cameras floating amongst the fans. Later in the afternoon, the interviews got more interesting and from what I saw, probably more to edit. Good chance Foegele’s goal was scored before thousands were in their seats but this game wasn’t a score-fest; rather it was a tight-checking game that had the Canes win 2-1.
Foegele Continues Hot Streak
The Capitals won the initial faceoff and quickly got the puck in the Canes’ end but the Canes’ Dougie Hamilton stole the puck deep in the corner. Hamilton quickly passed up to Justin Williams, making a touch pass to a rushing Jaccob Slavin gaining speed through the neutral zone. Slavin stick-handled the puck going straight for the goal with Dmitry Orlov dropped all over him. Slavin made a slick move to his right with the 19,200+ in attendance, thinking shot but instead made a smooth move with a pass to the speedy Foegele on the left, extending his stick for a nice smack of the puck to back of the net with just 17 seconds gone.
Washington was very loose before the game, laughing it up and kicking a soccer ball around in the arena basement before the game. After the blow out in game three and quickly down by a goal, they became all business and realized these Bunch of Jerks are for real. The Caps had the first penalty but the Canes’ powerplay units were dysfunctional along with the Caps penalty kill very effective. Right after the Canes squandered that powerplay, the Canes found themselves in a “man down” situation due to a poor line change resulting in too many men on the ice. Good chance the noise level had something to do with the poor line change as once again, the PNC Arena and Caniacs were earning the reputation as the loudest house in the NHL. The PK unit was highly effective paying close attention to the Great 8, Alex Ovechkin, camped out in his office: the left face off circle.
Bad news of the period was Jordan Martinook went hard into the boards on an attempt to send Lars Eller into next week, but had his left foot hit the boards while on an angle probably causing a strained Achilles’ tendon which is extremely painful. Marty went to the locker room to have the trainer look at it and probably tape it, then came out for another shift but realized he couldn’t be in a position to help the team. The period ends 1-0 with Caps outshooting the Canes 9-8.
Teravainen Puts Canes Back Up By One
The Caps were adding heat throughout the second period but none more than on the onset, having now gone four full periods without a goal over the course of the last two games. Cap coach Todd Reirden was keeping his first two lines for longer shifts, which I’m sure Rod Brind’Amour found totally acceptable. Hockey is an exhausting sport, which is why shifts only last 40-45 seconds. Ovechkin averaged over a minute per shift while most others on the first two lines were just about the minute mark. Every player wants more ice time but the key is to be fresh. That formula plays very well for the way the Canes are built. The Canes players could be in the ice for a minute or more but their effectiveness diminishes late in the shift.
Teuvo Teravainen got the Canes’ lone penalty of the period with a hooking call. Roddy knows how lethal the Caps’ powerplay is and publicly said they have to stay out of the box. The top two forward defenders, Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn, were on the ice as they were so effective in the previous game. The Canes had some success early in the kill but it wouldn’t last. Ginner made a great block with his stick off a cannon of a shot by Ovi that broke his stick. Just like the OT in Washington, losing a stick while also being a man down against the Caps’ powerplay spells trouble. Orlov’s pass over to Ovi with McGinn doing the only thing he could do and slide to sacrifice his body for a block but Ovi shot right along the ice under Ginner and by the time Petr Mrazek saw the puck it was too late for a save.
The Caniacs responded with a loud voice of encouragement at the opening face off letting the team know the seventh player was doing all they could to help. Late in the period, Sebastian Aho had the puck right at the Canes’ blue line passing to Nino Niederreiter in the neutral zone. El Nino carried the puck into the Caps end with Turbo a stride ahead of his defender, placing a perfect lead pass that Turbo faked right, then put a backhander past Braden Holtby to put the Canes back up by one with just 27.9 seconds remaining in the period.
Mrazek On His Game
It looked like Roddy may have had the Canes play. 1-2-2 in the third with one forward always going deep for the forecheck, ragging the puck as much as possible, with the other two forwards in the mid area of the offensive zone. If it was the plan, it proved to be brilliant as the leading forward on every line was highly effective. Both coaches also seemed to shorten the bench with Roddy only giving rookie Patrick Brown, playing in his first NHL game is season, one shift and Saku Maenalanen getting three shifts.
The defense was like a brick wall. Slavin, Hamilton, Justin Faulk, and Brett Pesce all had fantastic games. Calvin de Haan, playing in his first game in nearly three weeks had an error free game as did Trevor van Riemsdyk. While it was good to see Niederreiter and Seabass get on the scoreboard with assists on Turbo’s goal, they both need to get back to scoring goals. Seabass’ goal in Washington was like a goal by Chad LaRose, hacking away in the dirty area and it counts just as much as a 100 mph slap shot from the point, however both have more talent that needs to kick in.
I did have the opportunity to talk to Andrei Svechnikov at length and other than a slight shiner, he feels well with no other side effects. With hope, he’ll be back in the lineup Saturday, but if not then, then I’m sure he be ready for Monday’s game back at the PNC Arena.
Playoff hockey is awesome.