Coach Bruce Boudreau was worried that there might be a emotional letdown tonight against an unfamiliar Coyotes' team. His worries, as it turned out, were unfounded.
The Caps took a two-goal lead late in the second period, and rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth helped them hang on for a 4-2 victory, their sixth in a row overall, 10th in the past 11 games and sixth straight at Verizon Center.
Check out my gamer here, then come on back for some quick notes quotes and thoughts from tonight:
*Alexander Semin was awesome again, continuing his stretch of standout efforts. He finished with a goal and three assists, which included one sublime pass through a pair of Coyotes right to Brooks Laich, who tipped the puck up and over Ilya Bryzgalov. Semin now has eight assists in the last five games.
"Sometimes I shoot and score," he said through an interpreter. "Sometimes I give passes."
Tonight it was both. Because after setting up goals for Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr, Semin tallied his 21st, which moved him into a tie with Nicklas Backstrom for second on the Caps in goals. Semin's four points were a season high.
Boudreau on Semin's assist on Laich's goal:
*I think it's time to stop wondering Eric Fehr is going to break out. The big winger had a goal and an assist (both on the power play) giving him 26 points on the season, one more than he had in 61 games last year. That power play goal, by the way, was only his second. (More on him tomorrow from Gene).
*Sami Lepisto had a rough night in his first game against his former teammates. He took two minor penalties and Fehr got his goal after his initial shot hit Lepisto's shin pad and came right back out to the Caps' winger.
*Check out Gene Wang's post on Michal Neuvirth's bounce back night.
*The Coyotes took three shots on the power play. They took six shots shorthanded. Think about that for a second.
*Everyone knows about the Caps' power play and how dangerous it can be. Tonight, the penalty kill deserved the hard hat. The unit killed off all five shorthanded situations it faced and limited the Coyotes to three shots in 8:02 of power play time. The shorthanded ice time leaders were Tom Poti (5:11), David Steckel (4:29) and Jeff Schultz (4:02).
"In the end, it comes down to a special teams contest and we lost that contest tonight," Phoenix Coach Dave Tippett said.
No practice tomorrow. The team will return to the ice Monday at 10:30 at KCI.