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The recap: Isles defeat Caps, 5-3
-- First and foremost, the Isles scored goals, four of them at even-strength and every last one of them was as ugly as could be.
They had Caps goaltender Tomas Vokoun to thank for three of them and Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman for a fourth (John Tavares' 8th of the year was into an empty net to seal it), but still, there was effort involved in all of them.
Frans Nielsen and Brian Rolston scored by throwing shots on goal. Matt Martin, arguably the Isles' best forward all night, scored by parking himself in front of Vokoun to deposit a rebound. And PA Parenteau swept in the winner by "stopping at the paint," as Jack Capuano said, instead of doing a fly-by after he lugged the puck into the Caps zone while his teammates changed.
"We've been emphasizing getting pucks on net," Martin said. "It paid off tonight."
-- Rick DiPietro wasn't exactly thrilled with his own performance, or with the Coliseum crowd chants of "Al Montoya" after Alex Ovechkin's late first-period goal made it 2-0.
The first goal, by Joel Ward, wasn't stoppable; Marty Reasoner tipped it right over DiPietro's shoulder. Ovechkin has a laser for a shot and he unleashed it from near the blue line. A difficult stop, but one a goaltender needs to make with his team struggling to score.
And the third goal, Brooks Laich's power-play wrist shot with no screen, was definitely saveable. The fans may get their wish tomorrow night in Boston, as I think Montoya goes back in. DiPietro hasn't been bad by any means, but I don't think he's earned a fourth straight start. Capuano may see it differently.
-- Parenteau's three-point night almost never happened after he cross-checked Roman Hamrlik from behind in the first. Hamrlik lost his footing and crashed awkwardly into the boards, drawing a shove from Ovechkin on Parenteau.
I don't believe Parenteau will hear from NHL discipline VP Brendan Shanahan after drawing a major for boarding (even though the boards were about 10 feet away). If Ovechkin doesn't come in late and knock Parenteau down, I think the officials give Parenteau two minutes for cross-checking and leave it at that. Once Ovechkin came in and drew a minor, Parenteau's offense got greater.
But Parenteau is playing a few key roles so far this season -- he's racking up points (2-9-11 for a team that's scored just 23 goals) and gaining confidence in the area of aggravation. He's always been a cocky, chirpy guy on the ice, but never had a secure role until last season, so it seems he's taking his pest abilities to a new level. The Isles need that almost as much as they need his playmaking ability.
-- Mike Mottau sat out a fourth straight game, but I think you might see him step in for Mark Eaton this week on the road. Eaton has been very, very solid, especially on the PK, but it may be time to utilize the fact that there are seven healthy defensemen here and give a veteran a break.
Milan Jurcina's play through four games has been pretty strong. Capuano wants to see him uncork his heavy shot more, and it was his slapper that squeaked through Vokoun so Parenteau could jam it home for the winner. Jurcina has also been physical and smart enough in his own zone.
-- There were some negatives too, especially relevant as the Isles head off to play three skill-heavy teams: The transition game is still in need of tuning up. Outlet passes aren't smooth and there seems to be some communication breakdowns on breakouts. Once the Isles get into the offensive zone, they look much more confident with the puck, but getting there is a struggle still. That may bite them, badly, against a Bruins team that's won two in a row and looked confident doing so.