Caps End Power Outage; Defeat Ducks 7-6

(Washington Post) ANAHEIM, Calif. – For a night, the Washington Capitals didn’t want for goals. Facing an Anaheim Ducks squad that had scored at least three goals in each of its past four contests, the Capitals quickly accepted their roles as Western gunslingers in an old-fashioned, high-scoring shootout where defense was optional and it was an unwelcome night to be a goaltender.

All told, 11 players scored goals and 20 recorded points Wednesday night at Honda Center. But Alexander Semin’s tally with 1 minute 47 seconds to go proved decisive in a 7-6 Capitals victory that snapped a three game losing streak. The goal was Semin’s third of the night, marking his fourth hat trick of the season and a resounding return for the winger, who entered the game on a 17-game goal-scoring drought that stretched back to Nov. 28.

The contest marked the first time Washington posted seven goals since an Oct. 30 win in Calgary, the most combined goals scored in a Capitals’ game this season and only the fourth time they tallied five or more goals over the last 35 games. The up-and-down pace came at the expense of the team defense that had been the Capitals’ recent hallmark, as they allowed six goals for the first time since a 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Dec. 12.

Last night the Caps finally played some decent and exciting hockey. They came into last night’s contest having lost six of eight and in those losses they scored a total of six goals including two shutouts. The offense had clearly been in a funk since the new year began and the numbers back it up. In January, Washington ranked second to last in goals per game at 1.92. Even if you include last night’s seven goal outburst, they still rank 23rd out of 30 teams in goals per game for the month of February.

It will be interesting to see if they can kick it into gear with just under two months to play in the regular season. If the playoffs started today, they would be the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference. At four points behind Tampa Bay, a fourth consecutive division title is still very much in reach. However no one else in the East is close to scoring the way conference leader Philadelphia is this year. And at 11 points back, it looks as if the boys from D.C. won’t be entering the Stanley Cup playoffs as the top seed like they did a year ago.

Next up for the Caps is San Jose tonight at 10:30 followed by a nationally televised game against Buffalo this Sunday at 12:30.


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