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.

Game 50 Preview: Caps and Wings in the Afternoon

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, January 30, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (30-15-4-64, first in Southeast, second in East) host the Detroit Red Wings (31-10-7-69, first in Central) at 12:30 pm from Verizon Center.

The Capitals enter the game having dropped their only game since the all-star break, a 3-2 overtime decision to the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins Tuesday night. Detroit has dropped their last two, a 3-2 OT loss to Columbus on Tuesday and a 4-2 loss to Dallas Thursday night.

The Red Wings, the reigning Stanley Cup champion, will be without forwards Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Tomas Holstrom (groin) for the game, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit is the highest scoring team in the NHL, and are led by all-star Pavel Datsyuk. His 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists) are good for a tie for sixth in the league. Marian Hossa has 24 goals to pace the Wings in that category. Zetterberg is third on the team in scoring and Holstrom is particularly strong on the power play, so the Caps receive a benefit there.

As always, all-star Nicklas Lidstrom leads the Wings blue-liners with 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists, plus-15).

The Wings have a two-headed approach at goalie, where Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin have pretty much split the starts (26-24). Conklin's stats have been better overall (16-6-2, 2.31, .917), but the veteran Osgood (15-4-6, 3.29, .880) is getting his fair share of playing time.

Osgood was yanked from Thursday night's game with Dallas, however, so he may be relegated to the pine for this marquee matinee.

The Capitals have had several days off this week for practice. Thursday night the team participated in an outdoor skate at a local country club. Coach Bruce Boudreau initiated an intra-squad scrimmage and captains Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson picked squads for a three-on-three game.

There was debate about the victor, but all enjoyed the event and it seemed to breathe new life into a team that has been struggling on special teams of late. Washington has allowed a power play goal in each of its last nine contests.

The team hopes that the return of Tom Poti, easily its best overall defender, will bolster the struggling penalty kill unit. Poti has missed the last nine games.


WAS: PP-6th (22.0%, 46/209); PK-24th (78.5%, 50/233)
DET: PP-1st (27.7%, 57/206); PK-25th (78.4%, 44/204)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR)
DET: RW Darren McCarty (Groin-IR); D Brad Stuart (Ribs-IR); C Henrik Zetterberg (Back-Questionable); RW Tomas Holstrom (Groin-Questionable); LW Jiri Hudler (Undisclosed-Questionable)

Meet Caps Goalie Jose Theodore!

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

Washington Capitals Goalie Jose Theodore will share his thoughts on everything happening on and off the ice in a Q&A hosted by the radio voice of the Capitals, Steve Kolbe. Throughout the Q&A, fans will be invited to answer team trivia to win great Caps memorabilia, and Theodore will close the event by signing autographs for all the fans in attendance.

WHO: Washington Capitals Goalie Jose Theodore
WHAT: Question-and-answer session, autograph signing at ESPN Zone
WHEN: Monday, February 9, 2009, 7- 8 p.m.
WHERE: ESPN Zone, 555 12th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Shaone Morrisonn had to know the second the puck hit his right leg that the game was over. Trying to stop a crossing pass from Boston's David Krejci, instead Morrisonn redirected the puck past a stationary Jose Theodore and into his own net, allowing the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins (35-8-5-75, first in Northeast, first in East) to escape overtime with a 3-2 win over their next closest opponent in the standings.

Krejci admitted after the game he was trying to pass through the low slot to center Marc Savard, who was wide open on the far post on the four-on-three power play.

The Washington Capitals (30-15-4-64, first in Southeast, second in East) scored twice in the first period, but were shut down the rest of the way by all-star goalie Tim Thomas. Thomas knocked away 34 of the 36 shot he faced, and made a highlight reel kick save on Niklas Backstrom early in overtime to keep Boston alive.

The Caps continue to have problems on the penalty kill, as Boston went two-for-five with the extra skater, including the winning goal. Backstrom was off for hooking Zdeno Chara, on somewhat of a debatable call, as Chara was diving to the net. Several Caps after the game thought Chara embellished his fall a bit.

Coach Bruce Boudreau was not as charitable. "It was a good penalty to take if it was in [regulation]."

Boudreau continued, "These were two good teams. All three games against these guys, we battled them. It was a hard fought game. We have to limit [the penalties] to just three because right now we're fragile killing penalties. The guys are trying so hard, but things aren't working."

Washington finally tallied at even strength after going three-plus games without one. Mike Green (13) opened the scoring at 2:08 of the first period with a slap shot just after Savard's high-sticking penalty expired. Michael Nylander added his fifth of the season right before the first intermission, tipping one in after Tomas Fleischmann charged the net, then wrestled the rebound away from Thomas and a defender.

Caps goalie Jose Theodore had another strong game in net, including a tremendous glove save in overtime before the game-winner. He made 24 saves in the losing effort.

The Caps had a scary moment at the end of the second period, as NHL leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin took a hard fall, slamming his right shoulder into the low boards as he came crashing to a stop. He was assisted from the ice and missed the last 5:35 of the second, but returned to take his regular shifts in the third period. The team described the injury as a "stinger" and that he was "ok".

Washington is now off until a Saturday matinee at the Verizon Center against the Detroit Red Wings. Game time is 12:30 pm.

Photo by Getty Images.

02:08 Mike Green (13), Slap Shot. Assist: Semin, Ovechkin
09:26 Shawn Thornton (4), Backhand Shot, Unassisted.
19:39 Michael Nylander (5), Tip-In. Assist: Fleischmann, Clark

14:12 Power Play - Marc Savard (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Bergeron


01:55 Power Play - David Krejci (18), Wrist Shot. Assist: Wideman, Chara

1. T. Thomas - BOS (Saves: 34, Save Pct: .944)
2. M. Savard - BOS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. S. Thornton - BOS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Ovechkin went scoreless in the game...Alexander Semin extended a seven-game scoring streak (4-4-8)...Boudreau was honored Monday at the AHL all-star game and inducted into the league's Hall of Fame...Washington was zero-for-six on the power play.

CAPS GAME NIGHT--Game 49: What? There's a Caps Game Tonight?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

After what seemed like an interminable break for the all-star festivities, the Washington Capitals (30-15-3-63, first in Southeast) are in Boston to face the Bruins (34-8-5-73, first in Northeast), the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

Washington owns a couple of home victories over the B's this season already, a 3-1 win on Dec. 10 and a 2-1 victory Jan. 17. The Caps, though, are 11-12-2 on the road this season and most recently suffered a 3-2 loss just before the break to Ottawa, a team struggling to get back into the playoff picture.

The Bruins come into this game healthier than they were for either of the previous two contests, but are still missing a couple of important pieces.

Forwards Phil Kessel (mono), Michael Ryder (flu) and Marco Sturm (knee) are all out, as is backup goalie Manny Fernandez (back).

The Bruins are strong on both sides of the ice. They lead the East with 3.51 goals per game and 2.15 goals against average.

All-star goalie Tim Thomas has been phenomenal this season. He is 20-5-8 with a 2.09 goals against and .934 save percentage. He will be backed up tonight by Tuuka Rask, who appeared in four games last season (2-1-0, 3.26).

Up front, Boston is led by all-star center Marc Savard (16-40-56, plus-28) and David Kejci (17-35-52, plus-25). They have seven players with double-digit goals, including all-star defenseman Zdeno Chara (11-18-29, plus-22).

The Capitals are on pace for 108 points, which would be a franchise record. All-star Alex Ovechkin (31-28-59, plus-13) leads a dynamic and explosive offensive squad, with seven double-digit goal scorers of their own. However, the team was having trouble scoring at even strength coming into the break, having gone three-plus games without a five-on-five goal.

The team has also struggled recently on the penalty kill, allowing a power play goal in each of the last eight games, which was a point of emphasis for coach Bruce Boudreau at practice this week.

Jose Theodore (17-9-2, 2.81, .898) will start in goal and is backed up by Brent Johnson (11-6-3, 2.75, .909)

David Steckel and Eric Fehr are healthy scratches for tonight's game.

The game is at 7:00 pm from TD Banknorth Garden.

WAS: PP-5th (22.7%, 46/203); PK-24th (78.9%, 48/228)
BOS: PP-3rd (25.0%, 45/180); PK-8th (82.9%, 30/175)

WAS: D Shaone Morrisonn (Lower body-Out); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR)

BOS: G Manny Fernandez (Back-Out); RW Phil Kessel (Mononucleosis-IR); RW Michael Ryder (Flu-Questionable); LW Marco Sturm (Knee-IR)

Ovechkin Ends All-Star Game With Goal in Shootout

Posted by Dave Nichols | Sunday, January 25, 2009 | , | 0 comments »

Alex Ovechkin beat Roberto Luongo with a terrific inside-out backhand move as the third shooter in a shootout, and the Eastern Conference takes the 12-11 victory.

Ovie had a goal and two assists in regulation.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas had several remarkable saves in the third period and overtime, and Alex Kovalev was named the MVP in front of his home crowd in Montreal with two goals and an assist. Martin St.Louis of Tampa Bay had two goals for the East as well, including the game tying goal to sent it to overtime.

The Western team was led by Sheldon Souray of Edmonton with two goals and an assist. Nine other players scored a single goal for the West.

The teams combined for 102 shots on goal.

Washington opens the "second half" of the season Tuesday night in Boston at 7:00 pm.