Caps Beat Maple Leafs 6-1

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Saturday, January 16, 2010 | , , , , | 0 comments »

Washington, DC -- The Washington Capitals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of a Red Rockin' Caps crowd.  The weather may have felt like winter, however, it was fall in DC tonight -- The Maple Leafs fell.  Caps dominated entire game and won 6-1.

It took less than a minute for Alex Ovechkin to score a goal and start racking up the points.  The NHL MVP had a season high five point game.  Ovechkin also had a career-high four assists.

After Ovi scored the first goal of the game, Coach Bruce Boudreau thought, "Alex is on tonight."

Mike Knuble and Ovechkin were the fabulous duo.  Back-to-back Knuble goals assisted by Ovi.  Knuble seems to be back on track with five goals in this last five games and his broken finger is healing nicely.

John Carlson was recalled from Hershey this afternoon and arrived at Verizon Center at 6:30 just in time for warmups.  Carlson received a warm reception from the surprised Caps fans when he was announced in the starting lineup.  Fans thanked him for his winning OT goal in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championships when Team USA beat Canada.

"It's pretty cool when you get cheered on like that," Carlson said. "It's cool to recognized like that. But you have to make sure to stay focused on the game, so they're still cheering for you after the game, too."

Caps found yet another enforcer--Shaone Morrisonn.  With about six minutes left in the game, it appeared that Colton Orr took a cheap shot at Mike Green which left him lying flat on his back and Shaone Morrisonn took up the fight with Orr.  Morrisonn ended up with 2 min for instigating, 5 min for fighting and 10 min for misconduct.  Orr was only slapped with a 2 min interference call along with 5 min for fighting.  Coach Boudreau said during post-game interview that after looking back at video, Orr's hit on Green "didn't look like a vicious check."

"We don't exactly have the toughest team in the world," said Boudreau, but 'this group cares about each other and when one hits one, they hit them all."

Caps have had a season-high 13 penalties twice this year - in each of the last two games. 

Per Caps Insider, Jason Chimera will receive an automatic one game suspension because he was whistled for an instigator in the final five minutes of the game. Coach Bruce Boudreau also receives an automatic $10,000 fine because of Chimera's infraction.

Jose Theodore
looked sharp in goal and will likely be in goal against Flyers. Coach Boudreau said, "I hope this gets him some confidence. He'll probably start on Sunday afternoon and go again. He's a competitor, a battler. He's done it his whole life being a small goaltender with the awards he won. So it's no surprise to me that he's gone in there and is saying, 'The heck with you guys, 'I'm going to be great.'"

Theodore gave Carlson the Hard Hat. "None of the Canadians were happy with me, it was pretty funny" said a smiling Number 74.

00:49 Alex Ovechkin (29), Snap Shot. Assist: Backstrom
17:51 Eric Fehr (12), Slap Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Chimera

04:03 Mike Knuble (11), Backhand Shot.  Assist: Ovechkin, Backstrom
06:48 Power Play - Mike Knuble (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Semin
18:37 Power Play - Tomas Kaberle (5), Slap Shot.  Assist: Kessel, Stempniak

06:47 Power Play - Tomas Fleischmann (16), Tip-In.  Assist: Ovechkin, Green
11:06 Tom Poti (2), Wrist Shot.  Assist: Semin, Green


1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 4)
2. M. Knuble - WAS (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3. J. Theodore - WAS (Saves: 28, Save Pct: .966)

For the second night in a row, Washington Capitals rookie goalie Michael Neuvirth gave up four goals in 15 shots, all in the first period.  And for the second night in a row, coach Bruce Boudreau called on veteran Jose Theodore was called on to relieve the youngster at the start of the second period.

Only on this night against the Florida Panthers, Theodore was excellent in net, holding the Panthers at four goals, allowing his talented teammates to chip away at opposite number Tomas Vokoun.

Theo stopped all 15 shots he faced in regulation, and was outstanding in overtime. On three successive odd-man rushes, including a one-on-one breakaway, Theodore came up big, steering away everything sent in his direction.

Eventually the Caps tied the game, sent it to overtime, and won on a seven-shot shootout, when Vokoun's Czech National teammate Tomas Fleischmann beat him to cap a tremendous comeback and steal the extra point from a stunned Panther squad.

Jason Chimera came up with a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick", with a goal, assist and fight, as he duked it out with Gregory Campbell in the second period.

Alex Ovechkin banged home the Caps third goal, 27 seconds into the third period, as the Florida D could not get the handle on a bouncing puck.  It's his 29th goal of the season, and break a little scoring drought for the two-time Hart Trophy winner.

Ovie's linemate, Nicklas Backstrom, tied the game midway through the third.  Defenseman Mike Green, who had a rough game against Tampa Bay Tuesday night, skated in from the point and directed the puck toward the net, where Backstrom got enough of his stick on the puck to flick it past a down Vokoun.

The bigger concern for Boudreau, however, has to be the poor play of his team in the first periods of the last two games.  The Caps have surrendered eight goals in the last two first periods, and only exceptional goaltending and elite goal-scoring skills rescued the game tonight.

For most of the season, the Caps have been able to dominate in the first period, outscoring the competition easily.  But against their Southeast Division foes the last two nights they just haven't been able to get out of the box.

Was it the result of starting a talented rookie who might have been suffering a confidence problem?  Could be.  Neuvirth looked outstanding in the 8-1 win over Atlanta, but confidence is a funny, fleeting thing.

Is this just a bump in the road?  The last two games of a three-game roadie might be enough to explain the sluggish starts.  The Caps play the next nine of their 11 at the Verizon Center, so that should be enough to cure that little problem.

Is it just something that happens in an 82-game schedule?  Most likely.

But if it isn't, Boudreau will get to the bottom of it.  This team is much too talented to struggle for long stretches, especially against their less-talented Southeast Division rivals.

Capitals Fall to Tampa in Wild One, 7-4

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | , , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals had won 12 games in a row against Southeast Division foe Tampa Bay.  But Tuesday night the Caps could not match the Lightning's energy, and that lofty streak, along with a three-game winning streak, fell in a 7-4 loss.

Not only was the game filled with goals, but the third period was filled with heavy checks, fisticuffs, and The Professor stepping in for The Russian Machine in a fight.

The Caps got down early as they were dominated in the first period by Tampa Bay, and the frame ended with the Caps on the wrong end of a 4-1 count.  Michael Neuvirth surrendered four goals on 15 shots, though he could hardly be fully faulted for the performance.

Two of the goals were power play markers by Steven Stamkos, and the defense was fairly invisible for much of the frame.

Coach Bruce Boudreau mercifully switched goalies at the intermission, going to veteran Jose Theodore, and Theo was solid for the most part in the second, giving Washington the opportunity to claw back into the game.

Mike Green scored twice on the power play, and Eric Fehr lit the lamp with a sharp snap shot to draw things even.

But Martin St. Louis answered with less than three minutes remaining in the period to break the tie, in what would be the eventual game-winner.

The third period saw Tampa register two more goal to put things out of reach, then all hell broke loose.

Alex Ovechkin slammed Steve Downie with a clean shoulder, Downie took exception, and the two mixed it up a bit, each receiving two minute roughing penalties.

On their way out of the box, Downie slashed Ovechkin and the two exchanged words, eventually agreeing to dance.  The two discarded their gloves and helmets and brought up their dukes.  But flying across the ice was The Professor, Matt Bradley.

Bradley swooped in and saved Ovechkin from a fight, and he was hit hard by the officials.  He got an instigator, fighting, misconduct and leaving the bench.  He can probably also expect a call from discipline executive Collin Campbell in the next day or so.

Two minutes later, David Steckel and Zenon Konopka jawed at each other at the dot awaiting the faceoff.  Once the puck fell, the two went at it.  Steckel got a quick shot in to Konopka's beak, but was quickly overmatched. 

Konopka happens to lead the league in penalty minutes and fighting majors this season, and Steckel had exactly zero fights...until tonight.

But Stecks stood up for his team when they needed him, which turned into the theme of the evening for the Capitals, since the result on the scoreboard went so hard against them.

The Caps have little time to recover from getting bruised and bloodied, however, as they continue their jaunt through the sunshine state against Florida Wednesday night.