Coach Bruce Boudreau succinctly summed up the entire story of the Washington Capitals 2-0 win over the New York Rangers tonight, when asked what he thought of goalie Jose Theodore's performance.
"I thought he was by far our best player," Boudreau said.
Theodore was challenged all night by the normally anemic Ranger attack, and New York managed to get 30 pucks on net. On the few occasions was Theodore forced to work especially hard, and he was up to the task all night.
Theodore's biggest save came in the second period with the Caps clinging to a 1-0 lead at the time.
Shaone Morrisonn accidentally sent the puck right to New York's Brandon Dubinsky in the slot, and Theodore neatly turned away the backhander.
Theodore was surprised, but was in good position to make the save.
"Sometimes [things] happen pretty quick out there. Next thing I knew [Dubinsky] was all alone. I was able to get a pad on it and keep it out of the net."
"As a goalie, there is not a better feeling than when you bail one of your friends out of trouble like that.”
"That was definitely a turning point," Boudreau said. "Any time they were putting pressure on us, Jose would get it, and he would stop it, and he would not let a rebound go tonight. And that's, I think, the key to his game. He's brimming with confidence. We hope he can keep it."
General Manager George McPhee made four trades at the deadline, but none to acquire goaltending help. He took criticism in some circles for the decision, but Theodore is, apparently very quietly, putting together one of his very impressive runs.
Since Jan. 13, Theodore has been simply excellent. His record is 12-0-2 with a 2.38 GAA and .929 save percentage.
"During the break, we were taking a lot about playing solid defensive hockey," Theodore said. "In the playoffs that's how you win games."
- Eric Fehr scored the first goal of the game, his second in consecutive games, giving him 17 on the season. Asked about the influx of new players, he said, "You gotta contribute if you want to stay in."
- The second goal was scored by newcomer Eric Belanger, who centered Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich tonight, sending Brendan Morrison to the press box. "I've been in the league nine-ten years now," Belanger said. "I know there's going to be a lot of different line combinations and hopefully we can find one where I fit well."
- Belanger's goal was set up by a beautiful cross-ice, no-look pass from Semin to Laich, who then hit a cutting Belanger.
- The win stretches the Caps club-record home winning streak to 13 games.
- Alex Ovechkin continued his scoring drought, now up to six games. Nicklas Backstrom has a five-game scoreless streak.
- Joe Corvo had an assist and logged 2:14 of ice time.
- For Theodore, the shutout is the 29th of his NHL career and his first since March 17 at Florida. Saturday’s shutout was the first of Theodore’s career against the Rangers.
- The Caps are now 25-3-3 on Verizon Center ice this season.
- Washington was 1-4 on the power play and killed both penalies against.
- The video board played tributes to former Caps all night, celebrating the franchise's 35th anniversary. The Caps wore 35th Anniversary patches on the red jerseys and were auctioned after the game.
- It was also "Pick-a-Stick" night for charity. For $65 fans were able to pick out a stick and the autograph was revealed. There were 200 sticks, however, there were at least 800 people in line by 6:15pm. $13,000 was raised for Caps charities.