It wasn't pretty.  Nor was it efficient.  But the Washington Capitals rode two goals by Scott Walker in his first game as a Cap to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-4, before a capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Walker, a 36-year old right winger obtained at the trade deadline, had his first two-goal game in over three years, scoring his fourth and fifth goals of the season.

Both goals were carbon copies of each other, as shots from the point found their way to his backhand in the slot, where he then beat Tampa goalie Mike Smith through the five-hole.

"I think they were kind of one of those fortunate goals, but more just going to the net after guys working so hard at the point," Walker said after the game, in response to whether he had the two-goal performance planned for his debut.

Coach Bruce Boudreau praised his newest goal scorer.  "His history has been in the right place at the right time."

One of Boudreau's most dependable players, center Nick Backstrom, was instrumental in this one as well.  In the second period, killing off a four-on-three, Backstrom blocked a shot with his stick, which broke it, then blocked two more with his backside.

It was pivotal at theat point with the Caps down a man, and the importance was certainly not lost on Boudreau.

"I don't know how many other superstars in the league would be doing that on a five-on-three, which is what makes him special."

"It was definitely a turning point."

"[Coach] put me in there and I want to do a good job," Backstrom said.  "Obviously you have to block shots if you're on the penalty kill."

Other highights:

  • In addition to the two goals, Walker also took a couple jabs at pest Steve Downie the shift after Downie and Alex Ovechkin had words.  Walker said it's part of his job.  "You just gotta make sure they know.  You can't have guys taking shots at [Ovechkin].  It doesn't always mean fighting, you just gotta let them know you're out there."
  • Mike Knuble added two goals (24, 25).  The first he took a nice crossing pass from Brooks Laich and snapped it past Smith.  On the second, he gathered a rebound from Backstrom and whipped a backhand just inside the post.
  • Eric Fehr started the scoring with his 16th goal of the season, a rising wrist shot that handcuffed Smith early in the game.
  • Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves in the win.  Boudreau said of the effort, "I thought he looked like he was moving fine...The bottom line is he plays and you win."
  • The Caps were 0-for-4 on the power play, and 2-for-6 on the penalty kill.
  • With the three healthy additions from the trade deadline (Walker, Eric Belanger and Joe Corvo) in the lineup, defensemen John Erskine and Tyler Sloan, and forwards David Steckel, Matt Bradley and Quentin Laing were healthy scratches and watched from the press box.  Injured D Milan Jurcina, re-acquired at the deadline, will miss 2-4 weeks with a sports hernia.
  • Courtesy of Nate Ewell, Caps Media Relations:  With 18 games left, Caps already have the 8th-most points (94) in their history and 7th-most wins (43).
  • The victory improves the Caps record to 43-13-8 (94 points) and increases their Eastern Conference lead to 14 points over the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington now has a five-point lead over Chicago and San Jose Sharks for the President’s Trophy.
  • With an assist on Knuble's second goal, Alex Ovechkin now has 90 points on the season.
  • Steve Stamkos scored his 39th goal of the season for the Lightning.
  • Vincent Lecavalier scored twice for Tampa Bay.

GAME 63 REVIEW: Caps Dump Sabres 3-1 on Busy Trade Day

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, March 03, 2010 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals got goals from Jason Chimera, Mike Green and Boyd Gordon, and Jose Theodore outdueled Olympic hero Ryan Miller, defeating the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 before a sellout crowd at HSBC Center in Buffalo.

Theodore made 23 saves in the win, as the Caps outshot Buffalo 40-24 in a choppy game that at times resembled an early season contest where the two teams were just trying to find their game legs.

After the two week break for the Olympic tournament, it's not surprising that the teams would show some rust.  In this one, the Caps showed less rust, and kept their legs longer in the match, as Buffalo seemed to run out of steam in the third period.

Jeff Schultz had two assists in the contest.

The game marked the return of Ryan Miller to the Buffalo lineup and he played admirably, especially in the first period.  But the Caps had their own hero this night in Theodore. 

"When you play against a guy like Miller, you know he's not going to give up too many goals," Theodore told the media after the game. "It was a real tight hockey game, and I'm really happy with the way we got the win."

"He makes the saves, and that's what wins you the big games," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's what Miller does for them, and that's what we got from Jose."

The win marked the culmination of a busy day for the Capitals, as GM George McPhee made four deals to bolster the team for the stretch run and the hoefully long playoff drive.

The Caps acquired D Joe Corvo, RW Scott Walker, C Eric Belanger and re-acquired former D Milan Jurcina from Columbus just six weeks after trading him there with Chris Clark.

McPhee completed the deals by surrendering just one player off the big league club, defenseman Brian Pothier, who goes to Carolina in the Corvo deal, and one player from AHL Hershey, winger Oskar Osala, who went in the same deal.

The rest of the compensation involved draft picks in the 2010 and 2011 drafts.

So a busy trade deadline day followed by a big win over a top-notch goalie.  Just another day in the office? 

Not quite, but it does signal a return to work for the league's top team.

Caps Add Corvo, Jurcina at Deadline; Trade Reaction

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, March 03, 2010 | , , | 0 comments »

General Manager George McPhee completed his busy day right at the deadline, pulling off two of the four deals he swung today.

The Caps acquired defenseman Joe Corvo from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for D Brian Pothier, AHL forward Oskar Osala and a 2011 second round pick.

Previous to that move, they sent a 2010 sixth rounder to Columbus to re-acquire D Milan Jurcina, fresh off his successful Olympic experience, but recently diagnosed with a sports hernia.

Corvo, 32, recovered from the skate slash that has kept him to just 34 games played this season, has four goals and eight assists (-6) with 10 penalty minutes.  He is known as having a big shot from the point and an effective quarterback of the power play.

He had 38 points with over 200 shots on goal last season for Carolina. 

Jurcina returns to the Caps after being dealt to Columbus along with Chris clark for winger Jason Chimera.  He brings his big frame and powerful (if inaccurate) shot to the Caps blue line.  It's not known at this time how the sports hernia will effect Jurcina's playing time.

For the day, the Caps brought in four players via trade and sent away just one (Pothier) that was on the big league roster.

It's apparent from the day's dealings that McPhee and Coach Bruce Boudreau like the overall makeup of the team they've assembled, and went about tweaking in certain spots instead of making a big, splashy deal.

Eric Belanger, a second/third line center, is in the top ten in the league in face-off percentage.  He give Boudreau some flexibility in his line combinations and allows Tomas Fleischmann to move back to his more natural wing position.

Corvo, while not being the rugged, stay-at-home defenseman so many fans and bloggers clamored for, is an overall upgrade on the blue line for the Caps.  He's a good puck-moving top four defenseman.

Scott Walker, picked up earlier from Carolina, will provide grit and leadership from the checking line.  He's missed time this season due to a bum shoulder, but has returned to the ice.  He's had a couple 20-goal seasons to his credit as well, so he's capable offensively.

Jurcina brings a big body and big shot.  His addition probably spells the end of Tyler Sloan in a Caps sweater for the foreseeable future.

Further, all the players coming back are expiring contracts, so McPhee did not handicap himself for the future taking on bad money. 

It's interesting to note that Corvo and Belanger had both played for Boudreau before in the AHL.

So while the Caps didn't land a headliner, they filled some cracks and picked up some solid hockey players.  McPhee took the opportunity to gear up for a long playoff run without sacrificing any parts that would affect the long-term viability of the franchise.

The coming weeks will tell if McPhee picked up enough at this deadline to achieve the goal this season.  But as he and owner Ted Leonsis have stated whenever asked, they have built this team to compete for several seasons, not just this year.  And nothing McPhee did today jeopardized that.

Several sources report that the Caps have acquired Eric Belanger, 32-year old centerman from Minnesota, for a second round pick.

Belanger has 13 goals and 22 assists with 28 PIM in 60 games for the Wild this season.

Depending on further deals, Belanger will figure to slide into the third line center spot with the Caps.

Capitals Acquire Scott Walker from Carolina

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, March 03, 2010 | , , , , | 0 comments »

Multiple sources confirm that the Washington Capitals traded a seventh round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for RW Scott Walker.

Walker is a 36-year old 14-season veteran with three goals and two assists in 33 games this season with Carolina.

Walker is known as a gritty two-way winger with tremendous heart and leadership qualities.  He's been used as a penalty killer in Carolina, and has not been afraid to drop the gloves if necessary.

Where he fits on the Caps is a big question, other than adding a veteran presence.  If there are no other deals today that move a right winger, he will probably be added to the rotation on the fourth line with Boyd Gordon.

This might be a precursor to a bigger move, as Washington has been rumored to be linked with Florida on a possible Tomas Voukoun deal, Nashville for D Dan Hamhuis or perhaps with Edmonton for D Steve Staois.

Caps News Network will have more as news comes out as the 3:00 Eastern Trade Deadline rapidly approaches.