The Washington Capitals stretched their perfect start to seven games with their best effort of the season and left themselves as the NHL's only unbeaten team.
Defenseman Mike Green scored twice and set up two other goals as the Caps steamrolled Detroit 7-1 before a full house of 18,506 at the Verizon Center, handing the Red Wings their first loss in six games this season. Mathieu Perreault also scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom added a goal and an assist as the Caps had their biggest offensive output against Detroit since a 9-4 win on Feb. 25, 1990.
In all, 14 Caps hit the scoresheet, and all four lines had goals at even strength.
"It shows that we got a lot of depth and everyone can score every night," Perreault said. "It makes our team pretty tough to play against. You got to get out there with four lines ready to go every night because our four lines are ready to go every night. It feels pretty good right now."
It was only the second time in NHL history that two teams with records of at least 5-0 had faced off. The other occurred Oct. 23, 1986, when the 7-0 Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the 5-0 Flyers in Philadelphia. The Wings were trying to match the team record for wins at the start of a season -- they won their first six games in 1972-73.
The fifth win came Friday night at home against Columbus, and the back-to-back games may have taken a toll -- the seven goals were the most allowed by the Wings this season. Detroit had allowed just four in its previous four games.
Green opened the scoring at the 14-minute mark of the first period with a power-play goal, With Todd Bertuzzi off for boarding, Green cut through the right circle and fired a cross-ice feed from Backstrom past goalie Ty Conklin. Marcus Johansson made it 2-0 just 61 seconds later, beating Conklin at the left post for his fourth of the season after a turnover in the Detroit zone by Cory Emmerton.
Green finished off a feed from Alex Ovechkin at 4:49 of the second period for another power-play goal before the Wings got on the board at 11:05, converting Pavel Datsyuk's pass with Detroit on a 5-on-3 power play. It was the only one of Detroit's 33 shots to get past Tomas Vokoun, who won his sixth in a row.
"Honestly, I was lucky a couple of times, some desperation saves," Vokoun said. "Sometimes they go in and sometimes you are just fortunate that the guy is not able to lift the puck or something, but saying that you battle and you work for your luck. [Detroit is] obviously a very good team. Very skillful, very tough, skate hard, put pressure the right way. I mean it was a whole lot closer game than 7-1 or whatever the score was."
Wings coach Mike Babcock said the goaltending made a big difference.
"Vokoun made saves and gave their guys an opportunity and our guy [had] a tough time," Babcock said of Conklin, who allowed seven goals on just 25 shots. After the Caps killed a second 5-on-3 power play, they got the backbreaker when Matt Hendricks' shot dribbled through Conklin's pads and Perreault tapped in a loose puck with 7.6 seconds left in the period for a 4-1 lead.
"We tried crawling back in the game and I thought we had an opportunity with the power plays there in the second and their guys had some good [penalty] kills," Babcock said. "Vokoun made some good saves and the fourth one buried us and we never really got on track at all in the third period and they scored at will."
Joel Ward, Perreault and Backstrom scored in the third period against Conklin, who was making just his second appearance of the season -- he hadn't played since shutting out Colorado in Denver two weeks ago.
Despite what turned into an easy win, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau was still impressed with the Wings.
"The score definitely wasn't a 7-1 game," Boudreau said, "I'm sitting behind the bench and going, 'That's one fantastic team.' The first 10 minutes, it came at you in waves. They are so fast and they know where everybody is. The difference was our goalie was better than their goalie tonight. I think they just ran out of steam, with their second game in two nights, in the second period."
It was a nightmarish 1,500th NHL game for Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who assisted on Niklas Kronwall's second-period goal and finished with five shots but was minus-1 in 22:33 of ice time. He became the 14th player to reach the 1,500-game mark.
"It was nice to see the crowd's reaction when they announced it," Lidstrom said. "I was happy that the Capitals organization announced it, too. Class act on their bench, as well, for standing up and giving me an applause there."
Material from team media was used in this report
|PPG - Mike Green (2) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (8), Alex Ovechkin (3)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Marcus Johansson (4) ASST: Alexander Semin (4), Mike Knuble (4)|
2 - 0 WSH
|PPG - Mike Green (3) ASST: Alex Ovechkin (4), Dennis Wideman (5)|
3 - 0 WSH
|PPG - Niklas Kronwall (1) ASST: Pavel Datsyuk (3), Nicklas Lidstrom (2)|
3 - 1 WSH
|Mathieu Perreault (2) ASST: Matt Hendricks (2), Mike Green (2)|
4 - 1 WSH
|Joel Ward (2) ASST: Brooks Laich (3), Mike Green (3)|
5 - 1 WSH
|Mathieu Perreault (3) ASST: Jeff Halpern (2), Matt Hendricks (3)|
6 - 1 WSH
|Nicklas Backstrom (2) ASST: John Carlson (2), Troy Brouwer (2)|
7 - 1 WSH
|Todd Bertuzzi Boarding against John Carlson|
|Jiri Hudler Boarding against Dennis Wideman|
|Cory Emmerton Hi-sticking against Mathieu Perreault|
|Matt Hendricks Hooking against Darren Helm|
|Roman Hamrlik Delay of game|
|Alexander Semin Hi-sticking against Jonathan Ericsson|
|Marcus Johansson Tripping against Henrik Zetterberg|
|Ian White Tripping against Roman Hamrlik|