Despite allowing the tying goal midway through the third period, the Washington Capitals (43-21-6-92, first in Southeast) defeated the next closest team to them in the division, the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-4 in a shootout.

Alex Ovechkin potted the shootout winner on the Caps third attempt, clinching the two-nil shootout win. Alexander Semin capped his big night (goal, three assists) with an earlier shootout goal on Carolina goalie Cam Ward.

Ward and Caps goalie Jose Theodore both made several spectacular saves throughout the heavy-hitting contest, but both also allowed a couple of goals they will tell you they should have stopped. Theodore saved 25 of 29 shots and Ward made 22 saves.

Carolina really came out hitting in the first period, especially forechecking against the Capitals defense. Washington responded fairly well, as they took a 2-1 lead in the first on goals by Mike Green and Ovechkin. Ovie's goal was on the power play, and his 49th of the season.

The second period was a wild affair, with breakaways aplenty, a ton of penalties and four goals, two by each team.

Alexander Semin notched his 29th of the season, sweeping a rebound of an Ovechkin shot past Ward, and Niklas Backstrom banged home his 19th on a beautiful pass by Michael Nylander, who drew both defenders out of the middle of the ice on a power play.

The third period exposed Washington's recurring problems clearing the puck out of their own defensive zone. One such escapade led directly to Niclas Wallin clanking a shot off the inside of the post for the equalizer.

Carolina also received goals from Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney.

Overtime saw the Caps play their best defense of the night though, as they spent two minutes of the extra frame killing off a hooking penalty on defenseman Tom Poti, who was whistled for three minor infractions on the evening.

Coach Bruce Boudreau was happy for the win, but not particularly happy with his team's defensive effort. "If he [Theodore] wasn't at the top of his game they would have had six or seven easy. Easy. I mean, they had four breakaways in the second period again."

"Once it started getting to that firewagon hockey, we've got guys that like to go. And they didn't think too much about defense."

Thankfully for the Caps, they put enough up on the board tonight to keep their defense from ruining the fun for a lively Saturday night crowd. But the scoresheet tells the story: Semin and Green were on the ice for all eight goals scored in regulation, and Ovechkin and Backstrom seven of the eight.

Boudreau stressed to the media what he wants his best players to hear, "It was like pond hockey, and in the playoffs, you have to play much more structured," he said.

The Capitals now head out on a five-game road trip, starting in Florida Tuesday night.

09:53 Erik Cole (18), Slap Shot. Assist: Staal
10:59 Mike Green (24), Wrist Shot. Assist: Semin, Backstrom
18:01 Power Play - Alex Ovechkin (49), Wrist Shot. Assist: Green, Semin

01:30 Power Play - Alexander Semin (29), Wrist Shot. Assist: Laich, Ovechkin
05:57 Eric Staal (33), Wrist Shot. Assist: Whitney, Seidenberg
12:27 Power Play - Nicklas Backstrom (19), Wrist Shot. Assist: Nylander, Semin
19:52 Ray Whitney (23), Wrist Shot. Assist: Cole, Staal

10:47 Niclas Wallin (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Seidenberg, Cullen


1. A. Semin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 3)
2. E. Cole - CAR (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
3. N. Backstrom - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)

Sergei Fedorov (illness) and Donald Brashear (knee) were scratched. Green ended a seven game goal drought. Ovechkin pushed his scoring streak to 10 games (7 goals, 7 assists) and Semin extended his scoring streak to nine games (7 goals, 9 assists).

CAPS GAME REPORT: Caps v. Canes, 3/14/2009

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, March 14, 2009 | , | 0 comments »


Tied at 4 apiece going to overtime. SOG: WAS-29; CAR-26

Caps had quite a bit of defensive trouble in he third, inability to clear their own zone. That problem led directly to the tying goal, as Seidenberg and Cole were able to control the puck after an exhaustive offensive zone shift and finally Wallin got a wrist shot off the post to beat Theodore.

The Ovie-Backstrom-Semin line with Green and another defenseman were on the ice for 7 out of the eight goals scored. Semin, despite his four points, was minus-3, as was Green.


Second period concludes with Caps leading 4-3. SOG: WAS-23; CAR-20

Things opened up in the second with lots of up and back hockey. Theodore has looked very good most of the night. Some really light penalties getting called despite it being a heavy-hitting affair.

Semin started the second period scoring as he swept in a rebound from Ovechkin on an early power play with Staal off for interference on a play that could be called every time up the ice. Props to Laich for crashing the net on the goal.

The Caps had a 4-on-1 breakaway that was thwarted. Dennis Seidenberg sent the puck up ice to Ray Whitney, who tried to beat Theo on a backhand. He was stopped, but Stall was there to put back the rebound.

Backstrom made it 4-2 off a great feed from Nylander, who drew both defenders to the left wing circle, leaving Backstrom wide open in the slot. Another power play goal--Caps are 3-for-4 with the extra man tonight.

With 7.3 seconds remaining, Eric Cole beat Theo five-hole after and extended offensive zone shift. Morrisonn had his stick broken, and in the confusion, Fleischmann finally was able to had his back to Morrisonn, who was going to be whistled for a hold. But on the exchange, Flash was out of position, and Cole got into the slot and was uncontested on the goal.


The first period ends with the Caps holding a 2-1 lead. SOG: WAS-9; CAR-9

Carolina is really hitting tonight--they apparently got the memo to be physical on the forecheck, and they scored first on an Eric Cole wrist shot that beat Theo stick side, off the inside of the far post. Green couldn't clear a bouncing puck at the blue line, Eric Staal gathered it in and hit a streaking Cole, who banked it off the post at 9:53.

Green made up for it just over a minute later, pinching in and lifting a wrist shot high glove side over Cam Ward. Nice work by Niklas Backstrom who gained the zone and Alexander Semin, who slid a nifty pass to the cutting Green to tie it up.

Brooks Laich earned an interference call on the only penalty of the period, on Niclas Wallin. With Wallin off, Green kept an errant pass from escaping the zone and shot toward net. The deflection went to Ovie, who kinda missed his first swipe, but rewound and swept the puck past Ward, who overcommitted either on Green's first shot or Ovie's original swipe.

The ice is, predictably, not so good tonight. The Harlem Globetrotters played at Verizon this afternoon and went late. The ice wasn't ready until right before pre-game skate, and it's noticeably warmer in the building tonight than it was last week.


Greetings from the Verizon Center, where the Washington Capitals host the Carolina Hurricanes. Currently, the Caps hold a 12 point lead over their division rival with 13 games to play. The Caps return home very briefly after winning two on the road last week, before embarking on a five-game road trip.

Tonight's starting goalies are Jose Theodore (26-14-4, 2.79, .902) and Cam Ward (30-22-4, 2.50, .913).

Sergei Fedorov will miss his second straight game with "flu-like" symptoms. Donald Brashear will sit this one out too, still recovering from his knee sprain suffered last week in Nashville.

Keith Aucoin was recalled from AHL Hershey and will suit up, wearing sweater #20. Aucoin currently leads the AHL in scoring, with 86 points (22-64-86).

CAPS GAME DAY--Game 70: Caps Host Hurricanes

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, March 14, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (42-21-6-90, first in Southeast, third in East) host the Carolina Hurricanes (36-28-6-78, second in Southeast, T-7 in East) at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

The Capitals bring a two-game winning streak into the contest, winning tight road games against Nashville and Philadelphia this week. The Caps will try to break a four-game home losing streak tonight before heading out on a five-game road trip.

Carolina has dropped their last two games, both on the road, to Chicago and Dallas. They are 6-3-1 in their last ten games overall.

The season series is split at two games apiece with two games remaining. The Caps won the first two matchups and Carolina returned the favor in the next two, most recently a March 3 beatdown, 5-2, at Verizon Center.

Washington will be without enforcer Donald Brashear, who injured his knee in a fight in the Nashville game. Sergei Fedorov is questionable with an undisclosed illness.

WAS: PP-2nd (24.3%, 69/284); PK-21st (79.9%, 67/334)
CAR: PP-20th (17.0%, 55/323); PK-18th (80.5%, 51/261)

WAS: D (Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); LW Donald Brashear (Knee-Questionable); C Sergei Fedorov (Illness-Questionable)

CAR: D David Tanabe (Concussion-Out); D Joni Pitkanen (Lower body-Questionable)

Led by Alex Ovechkin and Jose Theodore, the Washington Capitals earned a hard-fought road victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, before 19,728 at the Wachovia Center.

Ovechkin's goal, off a steal and feed from Alexander Semin, put the Caps up for good at 17:19 of the second period, and Theodore made the lead stand up the rest of the way, recording 35 saves.

On the forecheck, Semin picked off a lazy pass by Darroll Powe behind the Flyers goal and flipped it in front to Ovechkin, who stood all alone in front of Philly goalie Martin Biron (28 saves). Ovie one-timed the puck over Biron's catching glove and celebrated his league-leading 48th goal of the season.

Ovechkin is attempting to become the first Washington Capital with three consecutive 50 goal seasons.

The reigning Hart Trophy winner also assisted on the Caps first goal. On a power play, courtesy of an Aaron Asham hooking call, Niklas Backstrom made a cross-ice pass to Ovechkin, who sent the puck toward the Flyers goal, where Brooks Laich sat in the crease. Laich redirected the puck past Biron to give the Caps the early lead at 15:57 of the first period.

Philly tied it midway through the second. Mike Knuble converted a beautiful pass from Mike Richards on an odd-man rush. Simon Gagne started the play by finding the open Richards along the half boards.

Two defensive plays kept the score at 2-1.

The first was a highlight reel diving glove save by Theodore, robbing Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Timonen thought he had the goal wide open, but Theo, who catches right handed, dove head first to his right and snared the wrist shot out of mid air, just like a first baseman diving into the hole between first and second.

The second play came late in the third period, while the Capitals were on a power play. Mike Green turned the puck over in the neutral zone, allowing Simon Gagne a breakaway against Theodore. But Ovechkin, Green's partner on defense on the power play, rushed back and dove at the puck, knocking it cleanly away from Gagne before he could get a shot off.

Many of the Philadelphia faithful wanted a penalty called on the play, but replays showed Gagne went down clearly after the puck was knocked away cleanly by Ovechkin.

The game saw some strange plays as well. Two goals were waived off in the third period.

The Capitals thought they had extended their lead when Tomas Fleischmann beat Biron, but the referees ruled Michael Nylander had interfered with the goalie after incidental contact. No penalty was called on the play, but the goal was immediately waived off.

Philly hoped that they had tied the game a two just a little while later, but Mike Knuble caused a screen of Theodore with a cross-check of Jeff Schultz, and the officials arm was raised to call the penalty before the puck went into the net.

Washington has won five games on the road this season, their longest such streak since the 2000-01 season.

The Caps are off until Saturday night, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00 pm. The Hurricanes are in second place in the Southeast Division, 12 points behind Washington

15:57 Power Play - Brooks Laich (17), Tip-In. Assist: Ovechkin, Backstrom

11:32 Mike Knuble (24), Wrist Shot. Assist: Richards, Gagne
17:19 Alex Ovechkin (48), Snap Shot. Assist: Semin


1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
2. J. Theodore - WAS (Saves: 35, Save Pct: .972)
3. M. Knuble - PHI (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Sergei Fedorov and Donald Brashear were scratched. Brashear injured his knee in a fight against Nashville Tuesday Night. Fedorov is suffering from an undisclosed illness.

Michael Nylander played for the first time in five games, and Alexandre Giroux was recalled from AHL Hershey to fill in for Fedorov. He was returned immediately after the game.

Ovechkin has a point in nine straight games. Semin has scored in eight straight.

GAME 69 PREVIEW: Caps Roll Into Philly with a Beef

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, March 12, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

Sorry for the punny headline.

The Washington Capitals (41-21-6-88, first in Southeast, third in East) continue their short road trip in Philadelphia, facing a Flyers team (36-19-10-82, second in Atlantic, fourth in East) that looks to narrow the gap between the two teams.

The Flyers have taken two of three so far this season from the Caps, so this is a statement game for both teams. The Caps fell in their worst loss this season, 7-1 on Dec. 20 in Philly, and split a pair at Verizon Center, a 2-1 shootout win Jan. 6 and a third period meltdown in a 4-2 loss Feb. 24.

Philadelphia is 10-4-1 in the past five weeks, but four of those defeats have come at the Wachovia Center, site of tonight's tilt.

Washington has won four consecutive road games, matching their best such streak from last season. Should they win tonight, it will be their longest road winning streak in eight years.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is more concerned about the two points in this year's standings though. He called off yesterday's optional practice to allow his troops to recover from Tuesday's draining 2-1 overtime win at Nashville.

Center Sergei Fedorov called the Predators game a "good character win", and teammates Donald Brashear, Matt Bradley and John Erskine have the scars to show for it.

Brashear suffered a sprained knee in his fight with Wade Belak and is questionable for tonight's matchup. Coach Boudreau mentioned that if Washington's tough guy can not go tonight, they would call someone up from AHL Hershey rather than reinsert Michael Nylander, who is nursing an upper body injury.

Bradley took several stitches to close a gash on his nose, suffered from a head-butt in his tussle with Jordan Tootoo, but will play in tonight's game.

The game features two of the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL, Alex Ovechkin and Philly's Jeff Carter. Ovechkin's 47 goals leads all goal scorers by a wide margin, while Carter is third overall with 38 goals, trailing New Jersey's Zack Parise by one for second place. Alexander Semin ranks 15th in the league with 28, despite missing 19 games due to injury.

Philadelphia has a stable of 20-goal scorers, with six in all. Mike Richards and Simon Gange have 26 each, while Scott Hartnell (24-26-50), Mike Knuble (23-18-41) and Joffrey Lupul (20-22-42) all contribute heavily to the Flyers well-balanced attack.

The Capitals expect to start Jose Theodore (25-14-7, 2.83, .900) in net, while the Flyers will counter with Martin Biron (21-13-8, 2.77, .913).

WAS: PP-3rd (24.1%, 68/282); PK-22nd (79.7%, 67/330)
PHI: PP-6th (21.8%, 56/257); PK-8th (82.9%, 55/322)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); C Michael Nylander (Upper body-Questionable)

PHI: D Derian Hatcher (Knee-IR); C Daniel Briere (Groin-Questionable); LW Riley Cote (Upper body-Questionable)

Sergei Fedorov scored 2:20 into overtime to lift the Washington Capitals (41-21-6, first in Southeast, third in East) over the Nashville Predators (33-29-5-71, fourth in Central, T-7 in West) , before 16,064 at Sommet Arena.

Fedorov called the victory a "character win", but the Caps will take any type of win at this point, after losing their previous four games. Nashville has now lost two straight after winning their previous six games.

The win was punctuated by several big fights, with the Caps mainly on the losing end. Donald Brashear was knocked down by Wade Belak in the first period and did not return to the game. According to Capitals Insider, Brashear sprained his knee in the fight.

Matt Bradley then dropped with Jordin Tootoo and suffered a head butt to his nose, opening a gash that required several stitches, and a change of jerseys. Bradley returned to the game after getting stitched up. John Erskine mixed it up with Belak in the second period and managed to hold his own. The defenseman has been discouraged from fighting due to multiple concussions in the past.

As for actual hockey, the Preds got off quickly, scoring 50 seconds into the game. Ryan Suter put a long distance wrist shot through traffic and past a screened Jose Theodore low to the stick side.

Niklas Backstrom tied it with 1:21 remaining in the second period. Viktor Kozlov carried the puck into the offensive zone, went cross-ice to Alex Ovechkin, and Ovie found Backstrom slipping behind the defense. Backstrom caught the pass on the backhand, skated across the front of the crease, and lifted it over a committed Dan Ellis to tie things up.

Video courtesy of Caps365 at

The goalies took over from there, as Ellis--filling in for an ill Pekka Rinne--made several highlight saves in the third period. Eliis would finish with 39 saves on the night. Theodore was efficient in registering 26 saves against the Predators.

Washington had 17 shots on goal in the final frame, but went 0-for-3 on the power play and could not beat Ellis. The veteran backup made three excellent saves against Ovechkin in the third period, who may be suffering from the lingering effects of the bruised heel he suffered at practice last week.

The Capitals next face the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday night at 7:00 PM from the Wachovia Center. The Flyers defeated Buffalo last night 5-2, as Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell had two goals apiece.

50.0 Ryan Suter (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Weber, Erat

18:39 Nicklas Backstrom (18), Slap Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Kozlov


02:20 Sergei Fedorov (8), Slap Shot. Assist: Kozlov, Semin

1. D. Ellis - NSH (Saves: 42, Save Pct: .955)
2. S. Fedorov - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. N. Backstrom - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Alexander Semin extended his point streak to seven games with his assist on Fedorov's game-winner. It is one game shy of his career best streak. The Caps had a goal waived off after a video review determined that Tomas Fleischmann directed the puck into the net with his skate. Ovechkin has five goals and five assists in his last eight games. The Caps have won five straight on the road, improving to 11-3-2 in their last 16 games away from Verizon Center.

The Washington Capitals (40-21-6-86, first in Southeast, third in East) travel to the central time zone to face the Nashville Predators (33-29-4-70, fourth in Central, T-8 in West) at 8:00 p.m. EST from the Sommet Center.

The Caps enter tonight's contest losers of four straight games, all at home, to teams well beneath them in the standings. Washington finds themselves trailing New Jersey for second place in the Eastern Conference by one point. The Devils host Calgary tonight.

Despite the recent slump, the Caps still hold a 10-point lead over Florida in the Southeast Conference.

Washington plays 10 of their final 15 games away from DC and will have to play road warriors if they wish to line up the second seed in the East. The Caps are 8-2-2 in their last 12 road games, and they won't have to travel out of the Eastern time zone for any more games.

Nashville is fighting for their playoff lives, not for seeding. They sit in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the West with Edmonton and Dallas, all with 70 points. But the 10-13 teams are all within four points as well. Every game in the Western Conference has playoff implications.

The Predators are doing their part, having won six straight games at home and are 6-3-1 in their last ten games. And if the Capitals hope to win tonight, they better jump on top quickly, as Nashville has yet to lose a game in which they lead after the first period (15-0-1).

The Caps won the teams' previous meeting this season, a 4-3 shootout win on Oct. 28. It was one of the two games Alex Ovechkin missed this season to be with his ailing grandfather. Alexander Semin and Michael Nylander had shootout goals to lead the Caps that night.

Nashville is lead by goaltender Pekka Rinne. Rinne, 26, is enjoying a fabulous rookie campaign. In 38 games he has produced a 2.27 goals against average and .921 save percentage, with a record of 22-11-1. He is 11-3-1 since Feb. 1, but has given up 11 goals in his last three games, perhaps hitting a wall late in his rookie season.

Up front, the Preds depend on veterans J.P. Dumont (12-39-51, plus-5), Jason Arnott (27-22-49, plus-3) and Martin Erat (16-25-41. minus-10). Defenseman Shea Weber (17-23-40, plus-8) is one of the highest scoring blue-liners in the game, and a force on the power play.


WAS: PP-2nd (24.4%, 68/279); PK-23rd (79.6%, 67/328)
NSH: PP-28th (14.1%, 37/262); PK-4th (84.3%, 45/287)

WAS: G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); C Michael Nylander (Upper Body-Questionable)
NSH: C Radek Bonk (Upper Body-Out); C Scott Nichol (Concussion-IR)

GAME 67 REVIEW: Caps Fall to Crosby and the Pens

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, March 09, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

For my game story, Capitals Fall to Crosby, Penguins in Shootout, 4-3, please click on the link and visit

Sunday's game had all the spirit, action and passion of a playoff game, and thankfully, none of the drama that seems to surround these two teams. There were no runs, no cheap shots and little whining in the game, just some good old fashioned hockey the way the boys used to play it on the pond.

Ok, so maybe that was a little allegorical for you. But it was a pretty tough, tight checking game. I mean, Jurcina put Kennedy THROUGH the boards! Every whistle brought a scrum, and there were 10 (!) roughing penalties. THAT'S some tough hockey.

Props to David Steckel. I thought he did some fantastic defensive work and the home run pass to Laich was right on the tape.

I thought Poti looked slow and tentative in warm ups, and he proved me right on the first Penguins goal, as he was stuck in between the play, not having enough jump to get on Kunitz quick enough to break up the little flip he made to Guerin.

And how about that line for Pittsburgh? Crosby with Kunitz and Guerin. Does it strike anyone else strange that they would pair BOTH new guys with their captain? Stranger still, on Sunday it seemed like they'd been playing together all season long.

Once again though, the defense is proving that they still can't win the one-on-one battles. One the first goal, Schultz was backed up all the way right in front of Theo on the two-on-one. He's gotta step up and make Guerin make that pass MUCH earlier. Later, Guerin's toe drag in front of Morrisonn has Mo STILL looking for his jock on the ice.

Tomorrow night's trip to the central time zone is critically important for the Caps. They face a Predator team that's fighting for their playoff lives and the Caps need to come out and match their intensity. They did it for their mortal enemies on Sunday. Can they do it against the #8 team from the Western Conference?

Ovie, Don't Quit Your Day Job...

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, March 09, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

GAME REPORT--Game 67: Caps v. Pens, 3/8/2009

Posted by Dave Nichols | Sunday, March 08, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »


Penguins lead Caps 3-1 after two. SOG: WAS-18; PIT-12.

Penguins really took it to the Caps in the second period. Sergei Gonchar got the first Penguin goal on a 4-on-3 power play, with a blast from the high slot. Guerin was in the slot screening Theo--he had no chance.

Second goal came with Crosby beating Green to a puck on the boards, and he hit Guerin cutting. Guerin faked out Morrisonn and Guerin beat Theo easy.

Poti rang one off the post as the period was winding down. They reviewed it, but it was clearly no goal.

Orpik hit Green with a high stick with 33 seconds remaining. Caps have 1:27 of PP to start the third.


Caps and Pens tied at one after one. SOG: WAS-12; PIT-7.

Penguins got their goal from Crosby, completing a 2-on-1 with Guerin. Guerin took a long breakout pass form Kunitz, held the puck long enough for Schultz to have to commit, and slid it across to Crosby, who deposited it cleanly stick side against Theodore.

After a couple of penalties against Pittsburgh, Backstrom stole an entry pass from Letang and hit a cutting Semin in the slot, who faked and went backhand to fool Fleury. Very poor play by Letang.

It was a spirited period, as you would expect between these two teams. Penguins were credited with 12 hits, the Caps with 10. DC's biggest hit was Jurcina putting Kennedy THROUGH the glass behind Theo. Play stopped for several minutes as Kennedy was extracted and the glass repaired. Both players went off for roughing after hugging each other after the play.

The Caps had 1:39 of 4-on-3 play, but could not capitalize. Caps were 0-for-3 on the power play.

The Washington Capitals (40-21-5-85, first in Southeast, third in East) host the Pittsburgh Penguins (34-26-6-74, fourth in Atlantic, T-8 in East) at 3:00 p.m. from Verizon Center.

The Caps have lost three games in a row, all at home, all to teams lower in the standings. For a team that at one point had designs on catching Boston at the top of the conference, they are now in a scramble for second, as New Jersey holds a two-point advantage heading into Sunday's games.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is fighting for their playoff lives, not seeding. They are tied with the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot with 74 points, and just one point ahead of Buffalo looking in.

The Penguins have been playing very well of late, going 7-2-1 in their last ten games. The Pens haven't lost since losing to the Caps two weeks ago. They reeled off four straight wins with their captain, Sidney Crosby, on the shelf with a groin injury, and he chipped in with a goal upon his return Thursday night in a 4-1 over Florida.

The Capitals missed their most important piece, Alex Ovechkin, Thursday in a 2-1 loss to Toronto. After taking a slap shot to the heel in practice the previous day, he was held out of the Leafs game as a precaution. The team looked lost without their superstar, especially on the power play. Ovie is expected to play today, but coach Bruce Boudreau stopped short of guaranteeing that after the morning skate.

Defenseman Tom Poti will try to warm up before the game in an effort to play. If he can't get his sore groin loose enough to go, Tyler Sloan, recalled from AHL Hershey, will play.