Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Semin scored an unassisted goal mid-way through the third period to lead the home team past the Boston Bruins, 2-1, before a capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Semin had tried the same move twice earlier in the game with no success. But with the game in the balance, and less than nine minutes remaining in the game, Semin played the puck off the boards to himself at his own blue line, maneuvered around a flat-footed defenseman, and blew a slap shot past all-star netminder Tim Thomas for the game-winning goal.

Semin's unassisted goal broke a 1-1 tie and was the culmination of a strong third period performance that saw the Caps take control of a tense, tight-checking contest pitting two of the highest scoring--and winningest--teams in the NHL.

Boston had won four straight and seven on the road, their last road loss coming in the very same building to the Capitals on Dec. 10.

Washington, winners of back-to-back games, now trail Boston by nine points in the Eastern Conference. The teams have two games remaining, both in Boston.

Washington out shot the Bruins in all three periods, and for the game held a 30-24 advantage. The Caps, paying heed to coach Bruce Boudreau's mantra, got skaters in the Bruins crease in front of goalie Tim Thomas all night. The strategy made for more quality chances and better sustained attack on the offensive end of the ice all game long.

After an evenly-played first period, the Bruins scored first in the second period, as Boston leading scorer Marc Savard knocked in his 16th goal of the season. Savard gathered a rebound in the face-off circle to the left of goalie Jose Theodore and buried the shot past the Caps backstop. It was the only shot out of Boston's 24 that would beat Theodore on this evening.

Washington answered back 1:10 later. Mike Green took a beautiful cross-crease pass from center Michael Nylander and put a wrist shot past a helpless Thomas. It was Green's 12th goal of the season.

The Capitals have two games remaining before next weekend's all-star break, both on the road. They travel to Nassau County to face the New York Islanders on Tuesday, and the following night play in Ottawa against the Senators.


01:49 Power Play - Marc Savard (16), Slap Shot. Assist: Kobasew, Chara
02:59 Power Play - Mike Green (12), Snap Shot. Assist: Nylander, Laich

11:48 Alexander Semin (18), Slap Shot, Unassisted

1. A. Semin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2. J. Erskine - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)
3. T. Thomas - BOS (Saves: 28, Save Pct: .933)

Caps Captain Chris Clark was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row.

Boston was without LW Milan Lucic for the fifth straight game due to a shoulder injury.

C Boyd Gordon (back) and D Shaone Morrisson (lower body) were out for Washington.

CAPS GAME NIGHT-GAME 46: Caps Host Eastern Leading B's

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, January 17, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (28-14-3-59, first in Southeast, second in East) host the Boston Bruins (33-7-4-70, first in Northeast, first in East) from the Verizon Center at 7:00 pm.

Boston is seeking its fifth win in a row and eighth straight road win tonight.

This is the second of four meetings between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. If the Capitals want to close the 11-point gape between the two teams, each of the remaining three games are of vital importance. Washington won the first game 3-1 on Dec. 10. The final two games of the series, Jan. 27 and Feb. 28, are both in Boston.

Boston features a balanced attack and excellent goaltending. The Bruins have six players with double-digit goals, led by RW Phil Kessel with 24. Kessell, however, will miss the game with mononucleosis. The Bruins actually come into this one limping, missing five other regulars in addition to Kessel.

Despite the injuries, the B's are still plenty dangerous, with the league's fifth leading scorer, Marc Savard (15-38-53, plus-30), David Krejci (17-31-48, plus-25) and Michael Ryder (17-15-32, plus-21) all enjoying career seasons.

Tim Thomas is the number one goaltender. and an all-star to boot. He is 19-4-6, 2.00, .937 for the season. Backup Manny Fernandez could start for most teams as well. In 19 games, his record is 14-3-2, 2.07, .928. It's an embarrassment of riches for the Bruins between the pipes.

The Caps have seven player with double-digit goals, led of course by the "Great 8", Alex Ovechkin. He notched two goals and an assist in Washington's 6-3 victory in Pittsburgh Wednesday night. His 57 points (29 goals, 28 assists) are good fro third in the league in scoring.

The other double-digit goal-getters are Alexander Semin (17), Tomas Fleischmann (15), Nicklas Backstrom (12), Mike Green (11), Brooks Laich (11), and Viktor Kozlov (10).

Jose Theodore should start in goal tonight. in 27 games he is 15-8-2 with a 2.94 GAA and .893 save percentage.

Tom Poti (groin), Chris Clark (healthy), Boyd Gordon (healthy) and Shaone Morrisonn (lower body) will be the scratches tonight.

WAS: PP-5th (22.8%, 43/189); PK-23rd (79.7%, 43/212)
BOS: PP-3rd (23.8%, 40/168); PK-8th (83.5%, 27/164)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR); RW Boyd Gordon (Back-OUT); Shaone Morrison (Lower body- Day to Day)

BOS: D Andrew Ference (Leg- IR); C Patrice Bergeron (Concussion-IR); RW Phil Kessel (Mononucleosis-IR); LW Milan Lucic (Undisclosed-Questionable); LW Marco Sturm (Knee- IR); D Aaron Ward (Leg-Out)

Photo Gallery from Edmonton Game

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, January 16, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

I'll post the preview for tomorrow's game in the morning, but with the off-day today, and fighting a cold, I don't have the energy for an original post. So, enjoy a few photos that Cheryl took at the Edmonton game. My favorite is the one she got just before Fleischmann scored his sweet breakaway, one of the few highlights of the night.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and assisted on a third, leading the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 before 16,975 in snowy western Pennsylvania last night. The Pens also lost three players to injury, including captain and all-star Sidney Crosby, who left late in the game after a collision with Caps forward David Steckel.

The Capitals (28-14-3-59, first in Southeast, second in East) received balanced scoring, as Tomas Fleischmann had a goal and an assist, Niklas Backstrom had three helpers, and Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Semin and Jeff Schultz each added a goal.

After all the talk between the feuding superstars, this game came down to Ovechkin enforcing his will in the third period and dominating the frame. The game was tied at two entering the final 20 minutes, and very quickly into play, last year's MVP showed why he is the pre-eminent player in the game.

On the power play, Ovechkin took a cross-crease pass from Brooks Laich, whacked the first attempt into Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, then collected his own rebound and put the puck past the netminder to break the tie.

The Penguins (21-20-4, fourth in Atlantic, 10th in East) would tie the game briefly again, as Ray Whitney scored his first of the season, but that would be the end of the offensive output for Pittsburgh.

The game winning goal would belong to Tomas Fleischmann, who has goals in four of his last five games and a career-high 15 for the season. On another power play, Ovechkin's shot from the circle bounced off Fleury into the slot, where Fleischmann made a dive to poke the puck past the now out of position netminder.

"There was a puck laying there and open ice," Fleischmann said. "The only way I could reach it was by diving."

Ovechkin put the game out of reach with his second of the night just a few moments later. He skated through the zone drawing Pittsburgh defender towards him, and in an attempt to pass to an open Niklas Backstrom cutting to the net, he puck ricocheted off a Penguin skate and into the back of the net.

The Caps sent Crosby to the dressing room twice during the game. Before being knocked out for good in the third period, Crosby had retreated to the locker room during the first period after falling hard on his right side after tumbling over Kozlov but returned minutes later.

The Penguins also lost defenseman Rob Scuderi (slap shot to the face) and forward Maxime Talbot (undisclosed) during the game.

There were just brief moments of ugliness in this grudge match. Evgeni Malkin drew a two minute interference call for hitting Ovechkin from behind in the first period, and there was a little bit of a shouting match between Ovie and Crosby as the teams retreated after the second period.

The Pittsburgh players did not talk to the media following the game, and the Caps players chose to talk about the team.

"We don't even talk about it," Fleischmann said "It's just the Washington Capitals against the Penguins, that's how it is and we didn't talk about it."

Washington is off for a couple days in preparation for a big meeting with the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins (32-7-4-68) Saturday night at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center. Boston plays at the New York Islanders tonight.

Photo by Getty Images.

05:45 Power Play - Evgeni Malkin (18), Slap Shot. Assist: Crosby, Satan

01:06 Viktor Kozlov (10), Snap Shot. Assist: Backstrom
08:23 Miroslav Satan (13), Wrist Shot. Assist: Talbot, Kennedy
12:40 Alexander Semin (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Fedorov, Fleischmann

01:48 Power Play - Alex Ovechkin (28), Slap Shot. Assist: Laich, Backstrom
03:12 Ryan Whitney (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Crosby, Jeffrey
08:11 Power Play - Tomas Fleischmann (15), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Backstrom
11:27 Alex Ovechkin (29), Wrist Shot. Assist: Green
18:54 Short - Jeff Schultz (1), Empty Net. Assist: Laich ____________________________________________________

1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
2. N. Backstrom - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 3)
3. S. Crosby - PIT (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)

Ovechkin leads the NHL with 28 goals scored.

Florida General Manager Jaques Martin was also at Mellon Arena last night presumably scouting players.

The power play went 2 for 6, netting its first multi-goal game in eight contests.

CAPS GAME NIGHT--GAME 45: On To Pittsburgh

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (27-14-3-57, first in Southeast, third in East), smarting from a season-high tying three game losing streak, travel to Pittsburgh to face the struggling Penguins (21-19-4-46, fourth in Atlantic, 10th in East) at 7:30 p.m. from Mellon Arena.

The Caps have cooled off from their torrid December streak, which saw them win 12 of 13 and seven in a row. Perhaps not coincidentally, Alex Ovechkin has failed to score a goal in his last four games.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is becoming increasingly frustrated by his team's lack of execution of the "little" things, as evidenced by his post-game comments after last night's 5-2 loss to Edmonton.

"It gets to the point where everybody wants to be the scorer but nobody wants to be the mucker and you're not going to do anything," Boudreau said. "Everybody's waiting for somebody else to do the work. They want to finish."

Maybe the sight of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will ignite the teams' engine.

The stories of dissent between Ovechkin and Malkin, former Olympic teammates, by now are well documented, and were magnified by the teams' first meeting, when the Penguins took exception to Ovie's physical play, accusing the star of targeting Malkin with big hits.

"Ovechkin is a great player, but every time he hits me - I don't know why," Malkin said.

And of course, there is the famous Alexander Semin interview concerning the Pittsburgh captain.
"What's so special about [Crosby]? I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else.

I think that if you take any player, even if he is "dead wood," and start promoting him, you'll get a star."
Pittsburgh has really struggled this year after reaching the Stanley Cup finals last season. Their two superstars, Crosby and Malkin, are both getting their points, as the duo top the NHL scoring chart. And the Penguins have six double-digit goal scorers, as do the Capitals.

Yet Pittsburgh is 13th in the conference in goals against and, despite being third in goals scored in the East, is minus-three in goal differential for the season. Additionally, the Pens rank only 20th in the league on the power play.

The Pens have lost seven of their last nine games, including a five-game streak over the holidays. They did manage to win in Philadelphia last night though, 4-2. Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves in the effort, and Malkin notched his 17 goal of the season.

Washington won the previous contest this season in Pittsburgh, rallying from three goals down to win 4-3 back on Oct. 16. This is the second of four games between the two teams this season.

WAS: PP-6th (22.4%, 41/183); PK-24th (79.6%, 42/206)

PIT: PP-2oth (16.9%, 33/195); PK-23rd (79.8%, 38/188)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR); RW Boyd Gordon (Back-OUT)

PIT: LW Ruslan Fedotenko (Hand-IR); LW Pascal Dupuis (Undisclosed-Questionable); D Sergei Gonchar (Shoulder-IR); C Mike Zigomanis (Shoulder-IR)

Game 44 Review: A Replay of Game 42

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

For the second time in a week, a Western Conference team that does not travel well came into the Verizon Center and reduced the Washington Capitals to lofting shots from the point and a series of 1-on-2s or even 1-on-3s, as the Edmonton Oilers won for the first team in D.C. (or Landover, MD, for that matter), since Jan. 26, 1997.

Eight of the Caps 14 losses this season have come against Western Conference teams and they're 1-3 against the Northwest Division.

The 5-2 final was not as embarrassing as the 3-0 shut out Columbus hung on the Caps last week, but just as demoralizing. Washington has dropped three in row and now travel to Pittsburgh to try to stop the bleeding.

Edmonton forward Eric Cole had a had trick (including an empty net) and goalie Dwayne Roloson made 34 saves in the effort. Defenseman Steve MacIntyre scored his first NHL goal, a shot from the top of the slot that Caps goalie Jose Theodore never saw.

For the Caps, defenseman Mike Green had a goal and assist, and Tomas Fleischmann had a highlight reel goal, but it was not enough. Not close.

The Caps were fairly manhandled by the Oilers, limiting the Caps to long, easily brushed aside shots, or individual odd-man attacks that, other than Fleischmann's daring-do, were quashed over and over again. Though Washington held a 36-23 advantage in shots, Edmonton actually had more quality chances and took advantage of those chances.

Over the last three games, the Caps have been outscored in regulation nine to three despite outshooting their opponents 115-80.

Coach Bruce Boudreau played with his lines most of the night, trying to find the right combination, to no avail. The Caps played disjointed and unorganized all evening long.

There was no further evidence of that than early in the third period when Alex Semin stepped out onto the ice and proceeded to trip over--and fall on top of--Green, who had been knocked to the ice a moment before.

The last three games have seen the Caps play deteriorate into a series of bad turnovers, lazy passes and overall malaise.

Perhaps a trip to the Igloo will be enough to wake them up tomorrow night.

WAS: Fleischmann (14) from Green and Nylander (2-7:40); Green (11) from Semin (3-16:51-PP)

EDM: MacIntyre (1) from Grebeshov and Brule (1-12:59); Cole (9) from Souray and Visnovsky (1-14:10-PP); Brule (2) from Brodziak (2-2:15); Cole (10) from Brodziak and Potulny (3-3:19); Cole (11) from Gilbert (3-19:02-EN)

1. D. Roloson - EDM (Saves: 34, Save Pct: .944)
2. E. Cole - EDM (Goals: 3, Assists: 0)
3. G. Brule - EDM (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)

Fleischmann's goal, his 14th of the season, is a career high.

Washington killed a four minute power play in the second period after Fleischmann took a high stick.

D John Erskine returned to the lineup after missing 22 games with a concussion.

Washington went 1-for-5 on the power play against the Oilers, ranked 28th in the league in penalty killing. The Caps are 4-for-26 in the past six games with the extra skater.

CAPS GAME NIGHT--GAME 44: Looking to Drill the Oilers

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (27-13-3-57, first in Southeast) face the Edmonton Oilers (20-18-3-42, fifth in Northwest) in the only meeting between the two clubs this season, at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

The Caps look to get back on the good foot, suffering embarrassing defeat in their last two contests. Saturday night, Washington dropped a 5-4 decision to Montreal on a goal with 22 seconds remaining, and Friday lost at home in regulation for only the second time this season, shut out by Steve Mason and Columbus, 3-0.

Washington has beaten Edmonton six straight at home, a streak that reaches back to 1997. The Oilers have not won in Washington once since 1990.

Edmonton is expected to be without their leading scorer, Ales Hemsky, who has missed seven straight games because of post-concussion symptoms and is listed day-to-day. He did travel with the team, though.

Lost in the bitter disappointment of defeat in Montreal was the re-emergence of forward Alexander Semin, who scored twice and looked, for the first time since returning from injury, like his old self. Semin, despite missing 18 games this season, is third on the team in scoring (16-20-36, +21) and second in goals.

Also, the team is getting healthier, as John Erskine will return to the lineup tonight and should be paired with Mike Green. Jeff Schultz and Sergei Federov both will dress as well. Boyd Gordon (back) and Eric Fehr should be the scratches, unless someone has a problem in warmups. Tom Poti is eligible, but will not yet return, from Long Term Injured Reserve.

Tyler Sloan and Sean Collins were reassigned to Hershey (AHL).

Jose Theodore (14-7-2, 2.89, .895) is expected to face Dwayne Roloson (12-8-3, 2.64, .917) in net.

WAS: 6th (22.5%, 40/178); PK-24th (79.5%, 41/200)
EDM: 14th (18.2%, 34/187); PK-28th (74.9%, 45/179)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR); RW Boyd Gordon (Back-OUT)

EDM: RW Ales Hemsky (Nose/concussion-IR); RW Fernando Pisani (Ankle-Out); LW Robert Nilsson (Undisclosed-Questionable); RW Zack Stortini (Knee-IR); D Jason Strudwick (Wrist-Questionable)