October 22, 2011
WASHINGTON — Before he signed with the Washington Capitals, goalie Tomas Vokoun(notes) was mulling an offer from the Detroit Red Wings. He said the potential for a Stanley Cup championship factored into his decision: "My belief is this team has a better chance to win than Detroit does."
The Capitals made their goaltender look like a prophet on Saturday night, defeating the Wings by a 7-1 count to remain undefeated on the season, going 7-0-0 for the first time in franchise history.
"It feels pretty good [to win]," said Vokoun, who had anything but an easy night in making 32 saves. "Obviously, I am not custom to that feeling, so it's great."
The Red Wings played on Friday night, and looked gassed in the third period. Backup goalie Ty Conklin(notes) didn't help the cause with a lackluster night. To say the Capitals didn't see the best from Detroit, which dropped to 5-1-0 on the season, would be entirely accurate.
Washington capitalized, with 14 different players picking up a point and its power play — one of the primary factors in their string of playoff disappointments — firing on all cylinders against the team from the Motor City.
[Related: Capitals' Green among Saturday's Three Stars]
The Capitals had a few days to prepare for this game, and concentrated on the power play intensely. The typical sins of their special teams unit were nowhere to be found: They didn't hold onto the puck for too long, they had fewer cross-box pass attempts and they simply outworked the Detroit penalty kill.
Both of Green's power-play goals were well-placed rockets: At 14:00 of the first period from Nicklas Backstrom(notes) and Alex Ovechkin(notes), and then at 4:59 of the second after crisp passes from Dennis Wideman(notes) and Ovechkin. This made the ex-Presidents in attendance very happy.
Niklas Kronwall's 5-on-3 power play goal cut it to 3-1 in the second, and then the Red Wings had another 5-on-3 later in the period after Alex Semin went off for a high-stick and Johansson went off for tripping.
The Capitals killed it. Then, at 19:52 of the second, a back-breaker for the Red Wings: Matt Hendricks'(notes) shot snuck through the pads of Conklin, and Matthieu Perreault tapped it home into an open net for the 4-1 lead.
"I thought we were fine early on. We should have scored on the second 5-on-3 opportunity. It would have been a game again. Instead, they get the goal before the buzzer and it's a 4-1 lead," said Kronwall. "In the third, we didn't have anything. We hung Conks out to dry. "
In the third period, Green picked up his fourth point of the game, assisting on Joel Ward's(notes) goal, on a feed from Brooks Laich(notes) at 8:17. (This goal earned all the Caps fans free hot wings … in a game against the Red Wings no less.)
Then it was Perreault again, off an offensive zone faceoff win, beating Conklin for the 6-1 lead. Then it was Backstrom, beating Conklin in tight to make it 7-1.
"We got a little bit fatigued, but in the third we didn't stick to our gameplan," said Kronwall.
The Red Wings entered this matchup having given up seven goals in five games.
They gave up seven in 60 minutes against the Capitals.
"That just shows the versatility and the depth on this team. Even our shutdown line was scoring tonight," said winger Troy Brouwer, who fought plenty of battles against Detroit while with Chicago.
"Within the Blackhawks organization, you're taught not to like the Red Wings. Even though I'm wearing different colors now, it's nice to beat those guys. Especially tonight: Two unbeaten teams going into a game," said Brouwer.
Joel Ward, a member of that shutdown line and another former division rival of Detroit while with Nashville, concurred that old feelings about rivals never change.
"My feelings about Browuer are a little iffy right now too, having played in the same division," said Ward with a laugh.
"We just want to keep winning. We knew we were up against the top of the West. It was a big challenge for us."
So far, the Capitals have answered them all.
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Pujols delivers one-of-a-kind World Series performance
• Michigan State's Hail Mary grab stopped Wisconsin cold
• College football's Week 8 Winners and losers