By: Justin Creech
Washington, DC—Before Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau showed forward Brooks Laich video clips of all of Laich’s goals this season; stressing to the young forward the manner in which he scores most of his goals.
Laich got his coaches message.
Laich scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season on Sunday, the first coming late in the first period after crashing the net and putting home a rebound of Tomas Fleishmann’s wrist shot, and then on a shorthanded breakaway 4:56 into the third period to defeat the Flyers, 5-3, and push the Capitals back into first place in the Eastern Conference standings.
“He’s a very intense young man and sometimes he tried to do too much,” said Boudreau of his recent conversations with Laich. “We just went back and looked at his goals to see if we could find anything he was doing different. He watched his goals this morning and how he scored the first one [is] how he scores a lot of [goals]. You’re never going to find anyone that cares as much as Brooks Laich.”
The goals were Laich’s first markers since December 28 versus the Carolina Hurricanes, and only the second game he has scored a goal in since December 5, which ironically was the last time the Capitals played the Flyers.
Three of Laich’s 13 goals this season have come against the Flyers.
“Bruce said I was existing, but the term I use is I looked uninspired,” said Laich of his recent conversations with Boudreau. “He said get back to being determined and skating and using your assets and go to the net. Good things will happen.”
Laich also said he got a confidence boost from Boudreau’s decision to use him in the Capitals shootout victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Needing a goal to keep the shootout alive, Boudreau summoned Laich, who came through by beating Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun five-hole.
“It’s a confidence booster that Bruce put me in there,” said Laich. “You have a guy that hasn’t scored in ages and [Boudreau] puts you in the shootout when the game is on the line. It means the coach has faith in you and you want to reward him for that.”
Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin also tallied for the Capitals who scored four or more goals for the seventh straight game.
Ovechkin's goal was his 30th of the season.
Jose Theodore stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced including 24 of the final 25 shots he faced after allowing two goals on the Flyers first eight shots.
After Jeff Carter scored on a power play 6:03 into the game, Knuble tied the game on a one-time pass from Ovechkin through the crease that beat Flyers netminder Ray Emery underneath his right arm.
Laich’s first goal tied the game again at 13:28 of the first period, and Alexander Semin’s power play goal at 7:05 of the second period gave the Capitals the lead for good at 3-2.
Ovechkin scored on a penalty shot at 15:48 of the third period after he was slashed by Braydon Coburn on a breakaway. The goal came on the Capitals 21st shot and was their 10th goal on their last 38 shots against Emery.
The Capitals chased Emery from the net in the second period of their 8-2 win in Philadelphia on Dec. 5 after Emery surrendered five goals on 17 shots.
Sunday’s was Emery’s first game action since Dec 5 after having surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.
“When guys haven’t played a lot of hockey they’re probably a little rusty,” said Boudreau when asked of the importance of scoring on Emery early. “But I don’t know how important it was in the grand scheme of things.”
With the game tied at 2 and the Flyers Jeff Carter in the box for holding, Mike Green sent a shot from the point that was re-directed by Laich to the right of the net where Semin was waiting and easily put home the rebound.
The Flyers had several chances late in the second period with Jeff Schultz in the penalty box for tripping, but were unable to capitalize.
The win was the Capitals sixth in their last seven games after a brief three game losing streak.
“We’re not going to score five goals every game,” said Boudreau. “But it’s nice when it happens. Guys are feeling it. They are shooting and they are skilled.”