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Green does it again for Caps

Sunday, 01.06.2008 / 12:10 AM / Roundup

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Mike Green has been terrific for the Capitals, scoring 11 goals and 13 assists in the first 42 games of the season.
Fans who didn’t know the name Mike Green prior to the start of the season are learning about the Washington Capitals’ defenseman at a rapid pace.

The 22-year-old became the NHL’s new leader in goals by a blueliner when he scored 1:27 into overtime ( 700K) on Saturday afternoon as the Caps picked up a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

“Pretty soon he's going to be pretty well known,'' Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said of Green. ''I think he leads the league in goals for defensemen now and he's getting better and better offensively. He had a little bit of an off-day defensively, but usually he's dead on in that as well. He's a great young player and I don't know too many defensemen his age that can do what he can do at the NHL level.''

Green, who also had two assists to give him 24 points on the season, was able to redirect Michael Nylander’s feed past Canadiens goalie Carey Price for the game-winner. Washington has now won three of its last four games.

''I was just thinking, 'Get it off quick', because Price is so good positionally,'' said Green, the 29th overall pick in the 2004 Draft. ''You give a sec and he's going to be over there to make the stop.''

Green was happy to even be on the ice in the extra session after committing more than one mistake in his own end early in the game. It’s a testament to the faith Boudreau has in his players, and one of the many reasons why the Capitals have turned things around since Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon in November.

"I wasn't really happy with my first and second period," Green said. "To be put back out there and given a second chance makes all the difference for me."

Montreal gave the Capitals a second chance after jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Tomas Plekanec scored a power play goal just 2:38 into the game ( 700K ), as the Canadiens outshot the Caps 11-6 in the opening period. Washington’s poor play sparked veteran forward Donald Brashear to address the team during the intermission.

“One of our leaders came in after the first period and gave the group hell," Boudreau said. "We had a game plan, and some of us were on it and some of us weren't. We needed a kick in the butt and the guy gave it to them."

It took a little while before the Caps got going, as Andrei Kostitsyn gave Montreal a 2-0 lead 7:27 into the second period ( 700K ). After taking a pass from Plekanec, Kostitsyn made a nifty move around Green before roofing a shot over Olaf Kolzig for his 11th goal of the season.

But Washington got things going just 64 seconds later, when Alexander Ovechkin scored his first of two goals on the day. With the Caps on a power play, Ovechkin ripped a shot from the top of the circle past Price to make it 2-1 ( 700K ).

"He gets the puck off quick," Price said of the Russian superstar. "I don't think there was much I could do on the first one."

Nicklas Backstrom tied things up with his eighth goal of the season at 11:53 of the second, when he beat Price on a wrist shot from the high slot ( 700K ). Less than seven minutes later, Boyd Gordon gave the Capitals their first lead of the day when his shot from the point found its way past Price to make it 3-2 ( 700K ).

Roman Hamrlik evened the score just 2:05 into the third ( 700K ), but Ovechkin restored Washington’s lead on a wrist shot at 6:38. It was his 32nd goal of the season ( 700K ).

"It's one of my favorite places to play hockey," Ovechkin said of Montreal. "A huge crowd, people screaming before the game, nice music, you're just ready to play hockey. It's unbelievable."

The Canadiens once again tied the game when Alexei Kovalev scored with 8:34 remaining in regulation, as his wrist shot from the slot beat Kolzig to make it 4-4 ( 700K ). It was Kovalev’s 18th goal of the season.

Ovechkin nearly completed the hat trick just a few minutes later, when he fired a backhand shot that beat Price, but hit the crossbar.

Montreal fell to 7-8-4 at home and has lost eight of its last 10 games on home ice.

''We didn't deserve to win the way we played in the last two periods,'' Habs forward Christopher Higgins said. ''It was nice to see we came back two times in the third to tie it up, but we definitely didn't deserve to win.''

Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau concurred.

"We completely stopped working over the last two periods and that's unacceptable," Carbonneau said. "We're not a good enough team to get away with not working, and that's from beginning to end."

Red Wings 3, Stars 0 | Video
Dominik Hasek stopped all 22 shots he faced and tied John Vanbiesbrouck for 11th place on the all-time list with 375 wins as Detroit picked up its 31st victory in its 42nd game, a franchise record.

It was the 78th career shutout for Hasek, who turns 43 later this month.

Dominik Hasek is congratulated by teammates Aaron Downey, Nicklas Lidstrom and Daniel Cleary following a 3-0 win against the Dallas Stars.  The win was Hasek's 78th career shutout.

"We see him every day in practice," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Lidstrom said. "We see how competitive he is. He hates to be scored on and that carries over into the game."

With the victory, Hasek improved to just 9-10-2 lifetime against the Stars.

"Shutouts are always special," Hasek said. "I haven't had too many wins here so this is nice."

It didn’t take long for the Red Wings to get on the board, as Brian Rafalski scored on the team’s first shot of the game at 3:44 of the opening period. The gifted offensive defenseman took a pass from Dan Cleary and fired a one-timer past Mike Smith for his seventh goal of the season ( 700K ).

After a scoreless second period, Cleary put the Red Wings up by a pair 10:08 into the third when his sharp-angled shot beat Smith to make it 2-0 ( 700K ). Johan Franzen sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 19.8 seconds to play ( 700K ).

"It was a very tight game,” Cleary said. It was one where you had to take advantage of the opportunities given to you."

The loss was the fourth in a row for Dallas, marking the first time it’s been in such a slump since the 2003-04 campaign. Saturday marked the second time the Stars have been shut out in four games. They’ll look to turn things around on Monday night, when they host the Minnesota Wild.

"Losing is frustrating, that goes without saying," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "We have to keep pounding away and find a way out of it."

Penguins 3, Panthers 0 | Video
Most were under the impression than an ankle injury to Marc-Andre Fleury spelled bad news for Pittsburgh.

And then Ty Conklin showed up.

Originally No. 3 on the depth chart, Conklin recorded his second shutout of the season and won his seventh game in seven starts as the Penguins blanked Florida at Mellon Arena.

"It’s nice, mostly because the team's been playing so well," said Conklin, who has allowed only eight goals over his last six starts. "Everything's a lot more fun when you win."

Sidney Crosby ( 700K ) and Evgeni Malkin each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who have won eight of their last 10 games and 15 of 20. The win pulled Pittsburgh to within a point of first-place New Jersey, which lost at Boston on Saturday night.

Tyler Kennedy potted what proved to be the game-winner just 4:26 into the game. With the teams at even strength, Kennedy one-timed a feed from Jordan Staal past Tomas Vokoun for his eighth goal of the season ( 700K ). Malkin made it 2-0 less than two minutes later on a power play tally, as he put home Ryan Whitney’s rebound for his team-leading 19th goal ( 700K ).

"This team's too good to give them that kind of opportunity and that kind of lead," Florida defenseman Bryan Allen said.

Conklin made his best save of the game in the second period, when he somehow gloved a shot from Brett McLean ( 700K ). The Panthers recorded 12 shots on goal in both the second and third periods.

"When you have a goalie that can make the saves, he's giving you a chance to win, and this is what he's doing right now," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

Bruins 4, Devils 3 | Video
Trailing 4-2 heading into the third period, New Jersey knew it would have to turn it up several notches to have any hope of erasing Boston’s lead.

All the Devils did in the final 20 minutes was fire 20 shots on goal, but Tim Thomas stopped 19 of them as New Jersey’s lead in the Atlantic Division shrunk to just one point, thanks to Pittsburgh 3-0 win over Florida.

Boston's Tim Thomas makes a save on a deflection by New Jersey's Mike Rupp during the third period.

''It was crazy,'' Bruins forward Per Johan Axelsson said. ''The guys did a great job of covering up the net.''

With Kevin Weekes receiving a rare start between the pipes, the Bruins raced out a 3-1 lead in the opening period. All three of Boston’s tallies came in the final 5:47, as Axelsson ( 700K ), Dennis Wideman ( 700K ) and Marco Sturm ( 700K ) (shorthanded) all found the back of the net after Dainius Zubrus had given the Devils a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the game ( 700K ).

When it was all said and done, Thomas finished with 42 saves. The Devils’ early goal snapped his scoreless streak at 111:08.

''Tim played great. Besides that, we played hard,'' Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said.

New Jersey applied so much pressure in the final seconds that Bruins forward Glen Metropolit had his chest across the goal line behind Thomas.

''Whatever you have to do to keep the puck out of the net,'' Metropolit said. ''I got caught behind Timmy. I don't know if I got one off my chest.''

The Devils cut the deficit to 3-2 when Johnny Oduya beat Thomas at the 17:11 mark of the second period. Oduya’s shot from the point may have missed the net entirely, but it deflected off the skate of Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and past Thomas ( 700K ). But Marc Savard gave Boston a 4-2 lead with just under a minute to go in the second ( 700K ).

Travis Zajac got the Devils within a goal again on a power play goal with 9:27 remaining in regulation ( 700K ). But New Jersey – despite its tremendous third period – failed to get the equalizer, giving Boston coach Claude Julien a win over his former team.

''I was on the other side last year,'' Julien said. ''We scored a lot of goals in the final seconds.''

Senators 4, Lightning 3, OT | Video
Mike Fisher scored 3:17 into overtime at Scotiabank Place, as Ottawa extended Tampa Bay’s season-high losing streak to seven games.

The Lightning – who are 0-5-2 since Dec. 20 – held a 3-1 lead, but failed to hold off the reigning Eastern Conference Champions. With the loss, Tampa Bay dropped to an NHL-worst 3-14-2 on the road.

''That's the way it's going right now for us, but don't pity us. We can't have any self-pity,'' Lightning coach John Tortorella said. ''We have to just keep on trying to find a way to complete a game and not just get one point, get the two points because as the games keep on rolling by here one point is not enough.''

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Martin St. Louis ( 700K ) and Vincent Lecavalier ( 700K ), but Randy Robitaille cut the deficit in half with just 38.2 seconds to play in the opening period ( 700K ).

Jan Hlavac restored the Lightning’s two-goal lead 3:38 into the second, but Tampa Bay would get one past Ray Emery for the rest of the night ( 700K ). Robitaille potted his second goal of the game at 16:07 of the second ( 700K ), and Dany Heatley tied the game 4:26 into the third on his 25th goal of the season ( 700K ).

The tying goal was made possible when Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist’s clearing attempt deflected off the discarded stick of teammate Kyle Wanvig in the left corner. Senators forward Jason Spezza picked up the loose puck and fed Heatley, who fired a wrist shot past Holmqvist to make it 3-3.

''I was going to the net and he hooked me, and then he knew that he hooked so he let go of his stick and it just kind of drifted into the corner,'' Spezza said. ''I started yelling at the ref, and all of a sudden the puck was there and I knew Heater was back there. That was the hockey gods helping out.''

Fisher’s overtime goal was his 15th tally of the season. His shot from the left side that beat Holmqvist gave Ottawa a win following back-to-back losses to the Washington Capitals ( 700K ).

''I just split their D along the boards and cut to the net and put it through his legs,'' Fisher said.

Flyers 3, Maple Leafs 2 | Video
Antero Niittymaki continues to make a lot out of a little.

Philadelphia's Mike Richards is congratulated by teammates Daniel Briere, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen after scoring the game-winning goal against the Maple Leafs.

The Finnish netminder made 54 saves – including 36 over the first two periods – as Philadelphia won for the fourth time in five games with a victory over a frustrated Toronto squad at Air Canada Centre.

Mats Sundin scored both goals for the Maple Leafs in the third period ( 700K, 700K ). When the final horn sounded, Toronto held a 52-36 edge in shots but zero points in the standings, thanks to Niittymaki.

''He pretty much won that game for us,'' Flyers forward Mike Richards said of his backup goaltender.

All three goals against Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft came on rebounds. Toronto is now 1-4-1 since losing Vesa Toskala to a groin injury.

''In the first half of the season we made a lot of mistakes,'' said Sundin, who passed Stan Mikita and moved into sole possession of 25th place on the all-time list with 543 goals. ''We're good enough to be a playoff team ... but we're shooting ourselves in the foot on a lot of nights.''

Steve Downie scored his first NHL goal for the Flyers ( 700K ), while Jeff Carter ( 700K ) and Richards ( 700K ) also found the back of the net as Philadelphia bounced back after being blanked 24 hours earlier in New Jersey.

''It was a gutsy win,'' Carter said. ''We pulled out the win. These points against conference teams are going to be huge because (the standings) are so tight.''

Predators 4, Wild 1 | Video
Nashville has figured out a way to win consistently: Score early and often.

For the second straight game, the Predators scored three times in the first period, as J.P. Dumont extended his goal streak to a career-high four games ( 700K ) in a win over Minnesota at the Sommet Center. Martin Erat added an insurance goal in the third ( 700K ).

''We have to come out strong,'' Dumont said. ''We are playing with confidence and that is huge for us. I don't know why it is happening, but I'm glad it is. We are a different team, a tougher team, when we have the early lead.''

Martin Gelinas ( 700K ) and Dan Hamhuis ( 700K ) also scored in the opening period for the Predators, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Wild. Dan Ellis made 29 saves for Nashville to earn his fourth straight victory. He held Minnesota off the scoreboard until Mark Parrish found the back of the net 3:43 into the second period ( 700K ).

''I feel real good with the way things are going right now. The whole team is playing some of the best hockey we have played all season. It is carrying over from game to game.''

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire hopes to see a better effort from his team when it returns to the ice on Monday night at Dallas.

''We had maybe three or four guys that were not mentally ready to play,'' Lemaire said. ''We had a couple of mistakes and they put pucks in the net. That gave the Predators momentum.''

Blues 1, Hurricanes 0 | Video
Lee Stempniak’s 50th career goal was the lone tally on the night, as Manny Legace made 27 saves to lead St. Louis to a win over Carolina at Scottrade Center.

St. Louis Blues goalie Manny Legace is congratulated by teammate Jamal Mayers after earning a 1-0 shutout.

''You never think it's going to be a one-goal game,” Stempniak said. “Usually it takes four goals to win a game. I think we get lucky to have (goalies) Manny (Legace) and Hannu (Toivonen), who keep us in a lot of games without having to score a bunch of goals.''

Stempniak’s goal came just 12:49 into the game, when he redirected a feed from Jay McKee past Michael Leighton, who finished with 18 saves ( 700K ).

''Jay made the pass out front and I just tried shoveling it five-hole,'' Stempniak said. ''It didn't go in right away. It looked like it got caught up in there and sort of rolled in.''

''Their guy passed it out front and it was a quick touch between my legs,'' Leighton said.

Legace’s shutout was his third season and 21st of his career, as the Blues put a stop to their four-game losing streak on home ice (0-2-2).

''When it's 1-0, guys are still grinding it out,'' Legace said. ''You still feel it. You still feel the intensity in your body.''

Both teams struggled on the power play, as each went 0-for-4. Carolina coach Peter Laviolette was pleased with his team’s effort and hopes the Hurricanes will bounce back on Tuesday night at Boston.

''I thought we played hard,'' Laviolette said. ''I thought we held an edge, but that doesn't matter. The score matters. They won the game 1-0. It's disappointing.''

Avalanche 2, Islanders 1, OT | Video
Marek Svatos collected a loose puck and roofed it over Rick DiPietro 2:05 into overtime ( 700K ), as Colorado snapped a four-game losing with a victory over New York.

It was the 24th one-goal game for the Islanders this season, the most in the NHL. DiPietro, who finished with 37 saves, kept his team in the game early with several spectacular saves.

''I tried to go high,'' Svatos said. ''Fortunately, it went in. He played really well. Everything that went down he stopped.''

The Avalanche went 0-for-4 on the power play and haven’t scored in their last 16 opportunities with the man advantage, a span of five games. But Jordan Leopold erased a 1-0 deficit with 31.6 seconds left in the second period when his shot from in front of a crowded net got past DiPietro ( 700K ). Tim Jackman had given the Isles a 1-0 lead in the first period when he fired a wrist shot past Jose Theodore at 3:18 ( 700K ). New York took that lead into the intermission despite being outshot 15-4.

Theodore, who got the starting nod of Peter Budaj, finished with 23 saves for the Avalanche.

''I felt really good,'' said Theodore, who made only his second start in 11 games. ''To be honest, he (DiPietro) played unbelievable. I am going to play the way that I can. If I do that, I can match and outplay any goalie in this league, and that's what I tried to do.''

While DiPietro’s play helped the Islanders earn a point in the standings, coach Ted Nolan was less than pleased with his team’s performance in the Mile High City. New York’s five-game road trip continues on Monday night in Edmonton.

''I thought the altitude was supposed to take away our wind, not our intelligence,'' Nolan said. ''We just didn't play a very intelligent game.''

The win avoided what would have been the first five-game skid for the Avalanche in close to a decade. Without Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth – who are both out for at least eight weeks with injuries – coach Joel Quenneville realizes goals will be at a premium.

''We certainly needed a win badly,'' Quenneville said. ''To be trailing is tough, but we hung in there. A huge goal at the end of the second. Hopefully, we got some confidence.''

Flames 6, Kings 4 | Video
Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists, while Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow scored the tying and game-winning goals just 1:55 apart in the third period at Staples Center as Calgary avoided a third-period letdown to win its fifth straight.

Calgary's Kristian Huselius scored twice in the Flames 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

With the victory, the Flames gained control of the Northwest Division. Miikka Kiprusoff made 24 saves for Calgary, which has 11 of 14 and eight of nine away from the Pengrowth Saddledome.

''It's pretty big,'' Iginla said. ''I mean, we were quite a ways out at the beginning of December, and at that point we were just trying to crawl back into the hunt and into a playoff spot. Kipper's been playing great and we've been riding it and really enjoying this winning streak.''

Despite a furious comeback – Brad Stuart, Ladislav Nagy and Anze Kopitar all scored in the third period – Los Angeles has lost 10 of its last 13 games.

''I don't think we're playing like we want to win right now,'' Kings captain Rob Blake said after the Kings slipped to an NHL-worst 15-26-2. ''We're at the bottom of the league for a reason.''

After trailing 3-1, Kopitar gave the Kings a brief 4-3 lead with his 17th goal of the season midway through the third period on a two-man advantage. But the Flames fought back on goals from Huselius and Langkow, and Huselius added another via the empty net for his 20th goal of the season.

''This is the most talented group that I've played with in Calgary, with Huselius, (Alex) Tanguay, (Craig) Conroy and Langkow,'' Iginla said. ''We're all helping each other and feeding each other, and I've been the recipient of some pretty good passes.''

Sharks 3, Blue Jackets 2 | Video
Patrick Rissmiller had his first two-goal game ( 700K ), helping San Jose end its five-game slide at home with a win over Columbus. The Sharks hadn’t won at HP Pavilion since they picked up a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 13.

Despite their struggles at home, San Jose gained sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division with the victory. With 52 points, the Sharks trail only Detroit and Ottawa for the most in the NHL.

For Rissmiller, it took 138 games for his first multi-goal contest. It was well worth the wait for the defensive-minded forward.

''My role is more defensive here, checking and killing penalties,'' Rissmiller said. ''This was one of those nights where the puck was following me around, I guess.''

Steve Bernier also scored for the Sharks ( 700K ), who are now 12-0-1 lifetime against the Blue Jackets. Evgeni Nabokov made 21 saves in his 41st start of the season. Columbus concludes a four-game road trip on Tuesday at St. Louis.

''There's a sense in this locker room that we were going to get the job done finally,'' said Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, who set up Rissmiller's second goal on a turnover. ''We wanted to give our fans something, because they've been pretty supportive of us throughout this whole thing.''

Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaire was yanked by coach Ken Hitchcock after the second period. Leclaire, who has been extremely solid this season, made 13 saves. Sergei Fedorov and Andrew Murray scored for Columbus.

''I thought both teams came out and battled, and whoever got the lead would have the advantage,'' Hitchcock said. ''We had a lot of guys play well, but we had a couple under the bar, and that's disappointing.''

Oilers 3, Rangers 2, SO | Video
After this four-game road trip, New York probably couldn’t wait to get on a plane for the East Coast.

After Chris Drury forced overtime with a game-tying goal in the final moments of regulation, Sam Gagner tallied his fourth shootout winner of the season as the Rangers ended their three-game road trip with a record of 0-2-1. They have yet to defeat a Western Conference team in seven tries this season.

Edmonton's Mathieu Garon is 7-0 in shootouts this season follwing Saturday's 3-2 win over the Rangers.

In the end, Mathieu Garon was just a tad better in the breakaway session that his counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist. With the victory, Garon – who denied Sean Avery, Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr -- improved to 7-0 in the shootout this season.

Gagner’s tally was the lone goal in the shootout, as Lundqvist gave Jagr a chance to tie it after denying Ales Hemsky in Round 2.

"I just wanted to try and get him off his angle coming down. We were told to go high all night. It looks like it just squeaked through," said Gagner. "It's a good feeling."

It should be, as the Oilers picked up a victory they so desperately needed. The win was second in nine games for Edmonton, which continues a five-game homestand on Monday night against the New York Islanders.

''Right now we aren't in a situation to be picky about how we get wins,'' Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff said. ''Beggars can't be choosers. We are certainly very comfortable in the shootouts though. When we go to them we don't feel it is a negative thing.''

Garon’s presence in the shootout is one of the main reasons why Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish continues to lean on the netminder. Saturday marked Garon’s third straight start.

''I love the aggressiveness that he demonstrates in coming out and challenging the shooters,'' MacTavish said of Garon, who made 21 saves. ''I don't know why more goalies don't employ that strategy. The shooters get a lot of the credit, but the way he has been playing all we need is one goal out of the three and usually that is enough.''

Drury tied the game on a power play tally with just 6.2 seconds to play. The two-way forward stood at the side of the net, where he took a pass from Jagr and slammed it past Garon to send the game to overtime. It helped the Blueshirts get the lone point of what has to be considered a disappointing road trip.

The Rangers return to MSG on Tuesday night, when they’ll host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

''In our three road games here somehow the puck seems to bounce the wrong way for us,'' Lundqvist said. ''We are playing well, but we aren't getting the results. And that's what matters right now. We need the points. We need to keep working hard and hopefully it turns around.''

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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