In a back-and-forth firewagon affair, the Washington Capitals had the last laugh, as Tomas Fleischmann ended sudden death overtime with a one-timer past goalie Manny Legace to give the Caps a 4-3 victory over their division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3, before another packed house at Verizon Center.

With less than two minutes remaining in overtime, newly acquired center Eric Belanger carried the puck into the offensive end calmly, and held the puck long enough to draw both defensemen. He then fed a streaking Fleischmann near the right wing face off dot, who fired a laser past the veteran Legace.

It was Fleischmann's 19 goal of the season, and give the Caps their 45th win of the campaign, and 99 points for the season, with 15 games to play.

Mike Green scored twice on the power play (16, 17), and Alexander Semin started the scoring with his 31st of the year, a nifty backhand after breaking in clean.

Jose Theodore was very strong in net, making 28 saves, including a first period penalty shot by Brandon Sutter, who was tripped form behind by Green on a turnover-induced breakaway while the Caps were on a power play.

As is typical of Caps-Canes games, this one was fast-paced and spirited. Coupled with four players changing sides at the trade deadline--all of whom were in the lineup--and perhaps there was a bit extra on the line tonight.

Scott Walker and Joe Corvo suited up against recent former teammates for the Capitals, while Brain Pothier and AHL Hershey star Oskar Osala, who was called up today as an injury replacement, faced their old team for the first time since being traded at the NHL trade deadline Mar. 3.

For the second game in a row, the Caps held a lead of 2-0 before eventually being tied and forced to overtime. Unlike Monday, when Dallas held in OT and won on penalty shots, the Caps ended things in the extra frame.

The Caps host another division rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Friday at 7:00 pm.

Veteran Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco stole two points for his team tonight.  There's no other way to say it. 

Turco made a career-high 49 saves in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals, ending the Caps home winning streak at 13 and their most recent three game win streak since the Olympic break.

The Stars have struggled since the Olympics, going 0-3 and had been outscored 17-5.  And in this game they were dominated again.  Any team that was outshot 52-26 was dominated.

But none of that mattered tonight.

The Caps seemed to have this one in the bag, leading 2-0 after two periods, thanks to goals by Tom Poti and Alex Ovechkin, ending his personal six-game drought.

But the Stars roared back for three third period goals in the span of six and a half minutes and had the lead late.  Two of the Stars' goals were of the power play variety (on rather dubious calls, especially the holding call on Matt Bradley), and the third was a gift by Semyon Varlamov, who lost his concentration on a soft shot from the wing by James Neal.

But the Great 8 tied things up with a little more than three minutes left, and the Caps looked like they just turned things back on again.  That's where Turco did most of his good work.

He flat stoned Alexander Semin on three consecutive shots late in the game on an extended shift where the Caps relentless pressure just seemed to fuel Turco as he made save after increasingly frustrating save.

Overtime would prove the same, as the Caps--as for much of the evening as a whole--dominated play but could not dent the cagey veteran.
Shootout went to five rounds.  Nicklas Backstrom for Caps and Brad Richards for Stars scored in second round and Loui Eriksson of Dallas scored the winning goal.

Sometimes a goalie just steals a win for his team.  Turco has been much-maligned this season, but on this night, he was exactly what the Dallas Stars needed.  Marty earned a well deserved number one star of the game.

The Caps are back at it Wednesday at 7:00 pm against the Carolina Hurricanes, including former Capital Brian Pothier.

Other Notes:
The Capitals have signed center Keith Aucoin to a two-year contract extension, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Coach Boudreau hinted in post-game conference that John Carlson will stay with Capitals instead of going back to Hershey.

Washington will practice at 11:30 a.m. at Kettler Iceplex on Tuesday morning.

Alex Ovechkin had 10 shots on goal, giving him 307 for the season. He is the only active player with five years of 300 shots or more.

Alex Ovechkin's two goals bring his season total to forty-four, which ties Sidney Crosby for first in the NHL.

Two future NHL HOFers....

GAME 65 REVIEW: Theodore Shuts Out Rangers 2-0

Posted by Dave Nichols | Sunday, March 07, 2010 | , , , | 0 comments »

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."

Other Highlights:
  • 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.