Behind stellar goaltending from embattled netminder Jose Theodore, the Washington Capitals (13-7-3-29, first in Southeast) shut out his former team, the Montreal Canadiens (12-6-4-28, second in Northeast), 3-0 before a sell-out Friday night crowd.

Theodore easily played his best game to date as a Capital, stopping all 28 saves he faced. He played in control the entire game, looking very much like the all-star and MVP he was while wearing les blue, blanc et rouge of last night's opponent.

Theodore would not admit to revenge against a team that the last he faced surrendered eight goals in a loss while with Colorado in 2006, but completing the shut out had to be personally satisfying on top of providing a vital two points in the standings, on a night where four of his active defensemen were starters in Hershey (AHL) at the beginning of the season.

The team lost Tom Poti to a strained groin Wednesday in the Caps win over Atlanta, so Washington was forced to call up yet another minor leaguer to man their blue line, this time recalling veteran Bryan Helmer, to team with Tyler Sloan, Sami Lepisto and Karl Alzner as former Hershey Bears in the lineup for Washington against an offensively creative Canadiens team.

Tomas Fleischmann started the scoring for Washington when he snapped a shot past Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. Canadians defenseman Francis Bouillon played the puck behind his own net, trying to pass out to a wing, but Fleischmann intercepted the pass right in front of Halak. Fleischmann tapped the puck to Michael Nylander, who was forechecking as well, and Nylander gave it right back and Fleischmann made no mistake.

Alex Ovechkin added his 13th goal of the season in the third period, extending his scoring streak to 10 straight games. During that stretch, he has tallied 11 goals and 11 assists, and leads the NHL in scoring in November and is now tied for second overall.

David Steckel redirected a shot from Lepisto at 8:46 to cap the scoring. The rest was left to Theodore.

Washington travels tonight to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets (9-10-3-21, fourth in Central Division) at 7:00 p.m. from Nationwide Arena. Brent Johnson will get the nod in goal tonight for the Caps.

Columbus is led on offense by Rick Nash (10-9-19, +3), with Derick Brassard, Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger all adding eight goals apiece. Rookie G Steve Mason has not looked out of place in his six starts. He's 4-1-1 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.


WAS: Fleischmann (9) from Nylander (1-11:03); Ovechkin (13) from Backstrom (3-3:42); Steckel (4) from Lepisto and Laich (3-8:46).

MON: None.

1. J. Theodore - WAS (Saves: 28, Save Pct: 1.000)
2. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. T. Fleischmann - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Washington Coach Bruce Boudreau earned his 50th win as the coach of the Capitals. He becomes the fastest to 50 in the team's history, recording the win in 84 games.

The 36-year-old Helmer played in his first NHL game since April 2004 with Phoenix.

Game 23 Preview: Caps Host Montreal Canadiens

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, November 28, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (12-7-3-27, first in Southeast) play holiday hosts to the Montreal Canadiens (12-5-4-28, second in Northeast) at 7:00 pm ET from the Verizon Center.

The injury-riddled Caps come off Wednesday's victory over the Atlanta Thrashers with still more missing players. Veteran Tom Poti strained a groin in the 5-3 win, and he'll be on the shelf with the rest of the Caps' walking wounded. A quick glance of the Caps injury sheet reads like a Russian novel.

Out for tonight's game include four of their top six defenders (Poti, Mike Green (shoulder), Jeff Schultz (finger), and John Eskine (concussion). Absent up front are the team's second leading scorer Alexander Semin, veteran center Sergei Federov and captain Chris Clark.

To compensate for Poti's injury, Washington signed and recalled veteran minor league D Bryan Helmer and will pair him with Tyler Sloan, with whom he was playing in Hershey before Sloan's call-up.

Helmer, 36, is a 6'1", 215-pound 16-year pro from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is the Bears captain and is second among team defensemen with eight assists. He has also recorded 14 penalty minutes in 21 games this year.

Helmer, who was undrafted, is a veteran of 134 NHL games and most recently played with the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2003-04 season. He also suited up for the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks and has eight goals, 15 assists and 133 penalty minutes on his NHL resume.

The entire Caps' defensive corps tonight--Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina, Bryan Helmer, Tyler Sloan, Sami Lepisto Karl Alzner--has a total of 669 NHL games to its credit, more than 400 games less than Montreal defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Patrice Brisbois combined.

Winger Graham Mink was returned to Hershey to make room for Helmer and Boyd Gordon is expected to return from his bout with back spasms.

Tonight's lines, reported by Capitals Insider:



Les Habitant du Montreal are led by Saku Koivu (7-11-18, +9), Alex Tanguay (8-9-17, +5) and Aelxei Kovalev (5-11-16, even). Kovalev has gone nine games without a goal this month and Montreal has lost six of them.

Carey Price is the number one goaltender. He is 10-4-6 with a 2.33 GAA and .923 Sv%. Price was sharp between the pipes in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Price stopped 32 shots in the game and allowed only a goal to Johan Franzen in the 3rd period.

WAS: PP-7th (21.5%, 20/93); PK-25th (77.9%, 25/113)
MON: PP-22nd (15.5%, 16/103); PK-15th (81.9%, 19/105)

WAS: RW Chris Clark (Forearm-Out); D John Erskine (Concussion-QUE); C Sergei Fedorov (Ankle-QUE); C Boyd Gordon (Back-PROB); D Mike Green (Shoulder-OUT); D Tom Poti Groin-DOU); D Jeff Schultz (Finger-IR); LW Alexander Semin (Back-OUT); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT)

MON: D Mike Komisarek (Upper body-IR); RW Georges Laraque (Groin-OUT); RW Guillaume Latendresse (Shoulder-QUE); LW Alex Tanguay (Neck-QUE)

Game 22 Review: Caps Trash Thrashers 5-3

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

Washington -- The Washington Capitals (12-7-3-27, first place in Southeast Division) received three goals from Alexander Ovechkin and were never really threatened by their Southeast Division rival Atlanta Thrashers (8-11-2-18, third place in Southeast), winning easily 5-3.

The Caps played without many of their regular skaters, including their captain, RW Chris Clark, who along with D Jeff Schultz were placed on the Long-Term Injured List before the contest. But no matter, as the Capitals were playing their first home game after a five-game road trip and had a surprising amount of spring in their collective steps.

The team recalled wingers Chris Bourque and Graham Mink and defensemen Sami Lepisto and Karl Alzner, the fifth overall pick in the 2005 entry draft. The youngsters seemed to help the overall level of urgency, and the Caps jumped all over Atlanta in the first period.

Ovechkin started the scoring at 3:29, with a slap shot that handcuffed Thrasher goalie Ondrej Pavelec. It was a power play goal, set up by Sami Lepisto, who slid a perfect point-to-point pass to Ovechkin, who let one blast. Four minutes later, Eric Fehr banged home a pretty tic-tac-toe from Tomas Fleischmann and Michael Nylander.

Bryan Little of Atlanta stemmed the tide just a bit, notching a power play of his own at 12:08, but Ovechkin scored his second of the game with a wrist shot, gathering a rebound shot by Viktor Kozlov. The hat trick was completed less than a minute into the second period, as Poti found the Great Eight in the slot alone, and Ovechkin made no mistake. The competitive portion of the game was complete.

Kozlov scored his third goal of the season in the third period, and Slava Kozlov and Nathan Oystrick both tallied for Atlanta, but the outcome was never in doubt after the hats rained down for last year's Hart Trophy winner.

Washington hosts the Montreal Canadiens (12-5-4-28) Friday night at 7:00 pm ET from Verizon Center.

Photo by AP.

1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 3, Assists: 1)
2. V. Kozlov - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 2)
3. T. Fleischmann - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)

WAS: Ovechkin (10) from Lepisto and Kozlov (1-3:29-PP); Fehr (2) from Fleischmann and Nylander (1-7:23); Ovechkin (11) from Kozlov and Fleischmann (1-14:01-PP); Ovechkin (12) from Poti and Sloan (2-0:54); Kozlov (3) from Ovechkin (3-1:20)

ATL: Little (10) from Kovalchuk and White (1-7:33); Kozlov (12) from Little and Kovalchuk (2-13:06-PP); Oystrick (1) from White and Schneider (3-12:28)

Ovechkin has points in nine straight games. He has 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in his last 11 games. The hat trick was his first since last March.

Jose Theodore stopped 15 of 18 shots faced.

D Tom Poti missed the second half of the third period. There were no details of possible injury.

Alzner, making his NHL debut, logged the second highest ice time for the game, behind only Ovechkin.

Game 22 Preview: Injured Capitals Host Thrashers

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (11-7-3-25, first in Southeast Division) host the Atlanta Thrashers (8-10-2-18, third in Southeast Division) from Verizon Center at 7:00 pm ET.

As the team limps home from a five-game road trip that they finished 1-3-1, the theme for tonight's game is David Bowie's "Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange", since four new players will be in the Washington line-up this evening. Recalled from Hershey are wingers Chris Bourgue and Graham Mink and defensemen Sami Lepisto and Karl Alzner. All four players will dress and play key roles for the parent club tonight.

This morning, the team placed D Jeff Schultz (broken finger) and RW Chris Clark (broken wirst) on the long-term injury list (LTIR), which means both players must miss at least 10 games, pushing their potential return date into mid-December. By putting the two on LTIR, the Caps received cap space to add the new players.

Schultz and Clark join Sergei Federov, Alexander Semin, Mike Green, Boyd Gordon and John Eskine on the injured list. Most of the others are still labelled "day-to-day", though none participated in the morning skate.

Here are tonight's lines, reported by Capitals Insider:


Atlanta is led by forwards Slava Kozlov (11-8-19, +1), Ilya Kovalchuk (7-11-18, -2) and Bryan Little (9-9-18, +8). Top goaltender Kari Lehtonen (2-5-2, 3.44, .903) has struggled and is hampered now by a sore back. Johan Hedberg (4-3-0, 3.88, .884) has not provided solid backup either, and the team recalled Ondej Pavelec (2-2-0, 2.33, .913) when Lehtonen went down and the youngster has provided a spark.

Hedberg got the win last night as Atlanta defeated Toronto 6-3. Todd White had two goals in the effort. The Thrashers had lost their previous three games.

WAS: PP-10th (20.2%, 18-89); PK-24th (79.1%, 23-110)
ATL: PP-15th (18.4%, 16-87); PK-28th (75.0%, 23-92)
INJURIES (OUT, DBT-doubtful, QUE-Questionable, DTD-Day to day; IR-Injury List)

WAS: C Sergei Fedorov (Ankle-OUT); LW Alexander Semin (Upper body-OUT); D John Erskine (Undisclosed-QUE); C Boyd Gordon (Back-QUE); D Mike Green (Shoulder-OUT); D Jeff Schultz (Finger-OUT); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-OUT); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT)
ATL: C Steve Rucchin (concussion-DBT); D Zach Bogosian (leg-IR_; G Kari Lehtonen Back-QUE)

Caps Captain Clark Meets the Fans at ESPN Zone

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | | 2 comments »

Washington Capitals Captain Chris Clark participated in a fan Q&A at the ESPN Zone in downtown DC Tuesday evening. Radio play-by-play announcer Steve Kolbe was the emcee for the evening's festivities.

Kolbe asked Clark some "get to know you" questions, such as memories of his first NHL goal (against J.S Giguere, a player he played with in the minors), what it's like to play with Alex Ovechkin, and how he came about to wear #17, as a tribute to his big sister, a basketball player. Clark grew up a Hartford Whalers fan, but his favorite player as a youngster was Boston's Cam Neely.

Clark talked about being named captain after Jeff Halpern left the team. "It's a special honor and I still continue to try to be the best--obviously I want to be the best player I can be, but I want to be the best leader. I want to be one of those captains that guy remember later on in life, later on in their career...for the younger guys I can help them along or have advice for them."

Clark then took questions from the fans in attendance. When asked about rivals in the Southeast Division versus tradition rivals in the northeast, Clark replied that the players really feed off the electricity in games at Verizon Center when the Flyers or Penguins are in town. "The atmosphere is unbelievable. Now that we have a team where we have our fans coming to the game, the opposing team scores and they don't get a bigger ovation than we do. That's just amazing."

He also remarked that it seems that each year the Caps are battling a different team for first in the Southeast, and natural rivalries are building through competition.

He also spoke a bit about facing long-time teammate Olie Kolzig. "Really weird. It was something special to see him and to play against him."

The Captain then signed autographs and posed for pictures with all in attendance.

Game 21 Review: Insult to Injury: Caps Lose to Wild 4-3

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, November 25, 2008 | , , , , | 1 comments »

Despite a furious late third period comeback attempt, the Washington Capitals (11-7-3, first in Southeast Division) lost their third straight game road game to the Minnesota Wild, 4-3, at the Xcel Energy Center. The loss drops the Caps 1-3-1 on their extended road trip, and the injuries keep piling up.

The most devastating of the new injuries came to D Jeff Schultz, who broke a finger in the first period blocking a shot. The team has already stated he will miss at least a couple weeks for the digit to heal. The injury leaves an already depleted defense squad further reduced, leaving the team no choice in calling up a player for tomorrow's game against Atlanta. There is already mounting speculation that player will be Sami Lepisto.

In addition, F Boyd Gordon left the game with back spasms and D John Erskine left with an undisclosed injury. Along with D Mike Green, F Sergei Federov and F Alexander Semin, these players will be listed as day-to-day, though the latter three have missed several games already.

As for the game itself, the Caps played like the tired and wounded team that they are, completing a four-game, seven-day stretch across the west coast of the country. Minnesota built a 4-0 lead midway through the third period, on two goals from rookie Cal Clutterbuck, the first tow of his career. Marek Zidlicky and James Sheppard added the third and fourth goals, with Sheppard's proving to be the eventual game winner. It was his first goal in 48 games.

Zidlicky's goal came on a 5-on-3 power place as a result of two consecutive closing-hand-on-the-puck penalties called 26 seconds apart on the Capitals' Tom Poti and Alex Ovechkin.

Washington's comeback started at 14:43 of the third when Matt Bradley slid a backhanded shot, his third of the season, past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. Alex Ovechkin notched his ninth a minute and a half later as he used his patented delay shot, using a Minnesota defender to screen the normally reliable Backstrom. At 18:16, the Caps' Niklas Backstrom scored against his namesake on a power play, cutting the lead to just one. However, the Caps had dug themselves too deep a hole and could never realize the equalizer.

Backstrom's goal gives him 16 points in his last nine games.

The Caps return home to face the Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night at 7:00 pm ET from the Verizon Center.

Video courtesy of Caps365 at

1. C. Clutterbuck - MIN (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
2. M. Zidlicky - MIN (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. M. Koivu - MIN (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)
NOTES: Minnesota is 5-0 against the Caps at home in their history.

Washington gave up 26 goals on its five-game road trip. They play just one game the rest of the season (at Nashville) outside the Eastern time zone.

Ovechkin's goal was his first career marker against Minnesota. The only teams remaining he has not scored against are Los Angeles and San Jose.

Bad News Already From Minnesota

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, November 24, 2008 | , | 0 comments »

According to the Caps radio broadcast, D Jeff Schultz has broken a finger, and is expected to be out "for weeks." Updates will follow after the game.

Just what this team needs: another major player on the injury list. It will be interesting to see how the team replaces one of their top minute men on the blue line if this preliminary report is indeed accurate.

Boyd Gordon also has left the game with and undisclosed injury. YIKES!

Monday Round-Up

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, November 24, 2008 | | 0 comments »

Some bullet-point style notes while waiting for a too-long road trip to end:
  • Coach Bruce Boudreau was selected for the AHL Hall of Fame to be inducted next year. His 316 ogals are 14th all-time in the AHL, while his 483 assists and 799 points are good for 11th in each category.

  • D Mike Green, F Alexander Semin and C/D Sergei Federov will all sit tonight against Minnesota.

  • G Jose Theodore will start against Niklas Backstrom for the Wild.

  • F Chris Clark will take questions and sign autographs at ESPNZone in downtown DC tomorrow night at 7:00 pm.

  • Minnesota has the league's top-rated penalty kill at 91.4% and the eighth best power play, but has zero PP goals in their last ten chances.

  • LW Alex Ovechkin has never scored against the Wild, one of three teams he has failed to "light the lamp" on. Los Angeles and San Jose, the Caps two most recent losses, and the other two.

  • After tonight, the Caps will have just one more contest all season outside the Eastern time zone (at Nashville).


Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Monday, November 24, 2008 | 0 comments »

Good news to the followers of the Caps News Network!

My husband and founder of CNN blog is back from vacation and I am happy to turn the reins back over to him. I did my best under my time constraints to get a few posts done while he was out, however, wish I could have done more. It was a busy 10 days for me. At least I got the basic info you. :)

Thanks for continuing to check back even though you knew he was out of town. He does a great job and hope you keep reading.

Go Caps!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Game 21 Preview: Caps Head to the Minnesota Wild

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Sunday, November 23, 2008 | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (11-6-3-25) visit the Minnesota Wild (11-6-1-23) at the Xcel Energy Center at 8:00 PM ET.

Caps and Wild appear evenly matched on paper. The road weary Caps match up against the Wild in the their fourth game in six days. Minnesota penalty killers are the best in the league, keeping opponents from scoring on more than 93 percent of their chances.

TV: Versus
Radio: Caps Radio 1500 & 820

WAS: D Brian Potheir (Consussion/OUT); LW Alexander Semin (Upper body/Questionable); D Mike Green (Shoulder/Questionable)

MIN: RW Marian Gaborik (Lower body/OUT); D Kurtis Foster (Leg/OUT)

Game 20 Review: San Jose Sharks Take Bite Out of Caps, 7-2

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Sunday, November 23, 2008 | , | 1 comments »

The Washington Capitals were eaten alive by the San Jose Sharks and lost 7-2 in their third game in California this week. Tonight was the Caps' first trip to San Jose in three years and marks the eleventh straight loss in the shark tank.

Caps faced the well-rested, Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks who hadn't played since Monday. Road fatigue and injured players proved to be major factors in the Caps sixth loss of the season at the sold out HP Pavilion.

Tom Poti and Tomas Fleischmann scored the two goals for the Capitals.

Sergi Federov was back in the lineup for the Caps after missing seven straight due to a sprained ankle and eased back onto the ice, going only 3:47. The Caps needed everyone healthy to have a chance against the Sharks, however, Alexander Semin missed his fourth consecutive game because of an undisclosed upper body injury and Mike Green missed his second game due to a shoulder injury sustained in Anaheim.


1. R. Blake - SJ (Goals: 0, Assists: 4)
2. R. Clowe - SJ (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3. M. Vlasic - SJ (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
Today marks the first anniversary of the Caps' hiring of coach Bruce Boudreau, who has transformed an underachieving club into one of the Eastern Conference's best.

Sunday, Nov. 23 is the 21st birthday of Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps continue road trip on Monday, November 24 at the Minnesota Wild at 8:00PM ET.