Game 50 Review: Caps Outlast Wings 4-2

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, January 31, 2009 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals overcame a sluggish start and a voracious forechecking effort by the Detroit Red Wings to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions 4-2 before a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

Detroit (31-11-7-68) was very strong early in the game, despite missing top line forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holstrom. Washington would make quick counters, but had trouble early sustaining the attack.

But the Caps found themselves tied at the end of the two frames, thanks to another strong goaltending effort by Jose Theodore (27 saves) and goals from Viktor Kozlov (11) and Mike Green (14).

That's when their resident superstar, Alex Ovechkin, took over.

It took Ovie a couple of periods to get his feet under him, but once he did he lit up the scoreboard for two third period goals, lifting the Caps (41-15-4-66) to a big win over one of the best teams in hockey.

Ovechkin's first goal was another of the highlight-reel variety. He originally fumbled a feed from Kozlov at the top of the left circle in front of Detroit netminder Ty Conklin. But the Hart Trophy winner deftly corralled the puck, put it between his own legs and used defenseman Brian Rafalski as a screen to beat Conklin low to the glove side and break the tie.

Just over one minute later, Kirk Maltby took a cross-checking penalty to put the Caps on the power play. Six seconds after Maltby left the ice, Ovechkin banged home the insurance off a feed from Green for his league-leading 33rd goal of the season.

The rest of the third period the Caps found themselves killing penalties, and with time drawing to a close, Detroit skated six-on-four and then five-on-three as Kozlov, Brooks Laich and Tom Poti all took penalties in the last minute and a half. But the penalty killers--and especially Theodore--rose to the occasion and kept the Wings out of the goal.

Ville Leino and Johan Franzen scored the Detroit goals. Leino was making his NHL debut.

The Caps halt a two-game winless spate. Detroit has now lost five straight games.

Washington turns right back around tomorrow to host the Ottawa Senators at 12:30 pm from Verizon Center. It's the first time the Caps have played consecutive afternoon home games since 1996.

The Senators were shut out Friday night at Columbus 1-0. Ottawa is 13th in the Eastern Conference and have lost three of their last five games. One of the two wins was against the Caps in Ottawa, a 3-2 win in the final game before the all-star game.

18:06 Ville Leino (1), Backhand Shot. Assist: Datsyuk
19:03 Viktor Kozlov (11), Tip-In. Assist: Jurcina, Nylander

17:19 Mike Green (14), Wrist Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Fehr
19:10 Power Play - Johan Franzen (22), Backhand Shot. Assist: Filppula, Hudler

12:52 Alex Ovechkin (32), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kozlov, Morrisonn
14:08 Power Play - Alex Ovechkin (33), Wrist Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Green

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

The Capitals finished better than .500 in each of the first four months of the season for the first time in franchise history...Washington's 31-15-4 record through 50 games is the second-best in club history to a 31-12-7 start in 1984-85...The Caps are 31-1-1 when Ovechkin scores...Tom Poti returned to the ice after missing nine games with a groin injury.