|After 12 rounds, Matt Bradley and his Capitals teammates were glad to see his score ( 700K ) be the decisive tally.
Matt Bradley was as good as his word.
While Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was trying to decide who to send out for the 12th round of a shootout in which no one had scored, Bradley, who has scored just twice all season, made the decision for him by jumping onto the ice.
''He just said, 'I'm going to score, put me out there,' and he jumped over the board and he went in,'' Boudreau said. ''He told me, he didn't ask.''
Bradley then went out and scored the only goal of the shootout, giving the Washington Capitals a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Bradley admitted he might not have felt as confident as he acted.
''I told him, 'I'll score, let me go,''' Bradley said. ''I don't think either of us actually believed what I was saying.''
After Bradley scored against Dwayne Roloson ( 700K ), Olie Kolzig stopped shooter No. 24, Sheldon Souray, in the 12th round to end it. Souray, owner of one of the NHL’s best slap shots, cranked one up from between the hash marks, but Kolzig took it in the chest to give the Caps only their third win in their last 19 shootouts.v
It was the longest shootout in the NHL this season and the second-longest in Capitals history. Washington lost 4-3 after a 15-round shootout at the New York Rangers on Nov. 26, 2005. The Caps also lost what had been the season’s longest shootout, losing 4-3 in 11 rounds to Florida on Nov. 28.
The Verizon Center crowd had every reason to be dubious when the shootout began. The Oilers had won 11 of their 13 shootouts this season, while Washington had lost both after going 1-11 last season.
''It's as deep as I've ever been involved in,'' said Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff, who had two goals. ''We had plenty of chances there to win it, but we just couldn't.''v
The Capitals scored four goals in the second period, but Horcoff tied it 4-4 at 7:40 into the third period with his second of the night ( 700K ).
Horcoff ( 700K ) and Robert Nilsson ( 700K ) gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead after one period. But Nicklas Backstrom ( 700K ) and Ovechkin ( 700K ) scored 38 seconds apart early in the second game to pull the Caps even.
As the shootout progressed and the big names failed to score, Bradley started looking around to see when his number might be called.
''I was hoping I got to go before (backup goalie) Brent Johnson went,'' Bradley said. ''I figured if I can go before him, I'll be doing OK.''
Sundin beat Alex Auld with a backhander in the second round of the shootout ( 700K ). After Vesa Toskala stopped Marc Savard, Steen beat Auld with another backhand shot for the win — Toskala's first ever in a shootout.
"It seemed like I was 0-10 in shootouts ... 0-7 doesn't seem that bad now, but it's nice to get the two points," Toskala said.
Toronto allowed fewer than three goals for the first time in 11 games.
"This was a big win for us and Vesa," Steen said. "We gave them the one point, but we are happy to come out of here with two."
Steen fired a wrist shot past Auld four minutes into the game to give Toronto the early lead ( 700K ). But Zdeno Chara beat Toskala through a screen at 14:27 ( 700K ) and Marco Sturm put Boston ahead 90 seconds later with a backhander ( 700K ).
“I thought we battled back after their first-period goal," Auld said. "The shootout is a tough way to lose when you feel like you leave it all out there."
Toronto had a golden opportunity to win late in regulation when Andrew Ference cut Darcy Tucker with his stick, drawing a double minor with 1:55 left. But half of the advantage quickly disappeared when Kubina tripped Jeremy Reich on a two-on-one break, and the Leafs were unable to score on the rest of the power play in overtime.
“You're never too confident in a shootout," Koivu said.
The Thrashers lost for only the third time in 13 games that went to extra time.
"We've been pretty good in those situations," said coach Don Waddell, whose team squandered a chance to get back to .500 overall. "We didn't get that extra point, but we got one."
Kostitsyn also scored the nicest goal of the game. The 20-year-old Russian took a pass near center ice, cut to his left to avoid Eric Perrin, shifted back to his right to get around defenseman Ken Klee and flipped a shot past Kari Lehtonen at 5:24 of the second for his 12th of the season, tying the game at 1-1 ( 700K ).
Michael Ryder put Montreal ahead for the first time at 6:02 of the third period ( 700K ), but goalie Cristobal Huet’s misplay in the corner led to Pascal Dupuis’ game-tying goal three minutes later ( 700K ).
“It was a good chance to redeem myself," Huet said of his save on Hossa in the shootout. “I definitely felt I owed the team something after the two goals."
Even with the loss, the Thrashers earned a point to claim sole possession of first place in the weak Southeast Division. Carolina dropped a point behind with a 5-1 loss to Ottawa, and every team in the division is below .500.
“Wins are hard to come by," Waddell said. "If we only give up two goals, we're going to win most of those games. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get any offense going."
Ottawa became the first Eastern Conference team to reach the 30-win mark, but the victory came at a price: Captain Daniel Alfredsson left early in the second period with a hip injury.
|Antoine Vermette's first two-goal game of the season helped the Senators get over the loss of Daniel Alfredsson with a 5-1 win over Carolina.
Antoine Vermette picked up the slack with his first two-goal game of the season and Mike Fisher, Randy Robitaille and Jason Spezza also scored for visiting Ottawa. Ex-Hurricane Martin Gerber made 36 saves, allowing only Ray Whitney’s goal 1:44 into the third period during a five-on-three power play ( 700K ).
“If you have the choice, you always want to have (Alfredsson) in the lineup," Vermette said. "He's our best player. He's been our best player this year."
Vermette opened the scoring 12:01 into the game when he outmaneuvered Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley to put home a puck in the crease with 3 seconds remaining in the Senators' second straight two-man advantage ( 700K ). He added his second of the game at 12:12 of the second period ( 700K ), between goals by Fisher at 11:09 ( 700K ) and Robitaille at 13:32 ( 700K ).
Alfredsson, Ottawa's leading scorer with 29 goals and 60 points, took one shift in the middle period before leaving the game for good with a hip flexor injury.
"I don't think it's too bad," Spezza said. "I think it's more precautionary, but hopefully he's not out for an extended period."
Spezza’s goal with 11:57 remaining in regulation assured the Hurricanes of their fourth consecutive loss ( 700K ).
The Hurricanes lost for the eighth time in 10 games and have dropped out of first place in the Southeast Division.
“It's gut-check time," captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "It's not easy when your confidence is a little shaken. You can tell that we're not making plays that maybe we were at the start of the year but this is the NHL and you've got to bounce back. We've got to find a way to do that."
The only good news for the Hurricanes was the return of defenseman Bret Hedican and forwards Matt Cullen and Scott Walker. Hedican returned after missing nine games because of a sprained right knee. Walker also returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for six games while Cullen was out for nine of 10 with a concussion.
Rick Nash said during a between-periods interview that the Blue Jackets’ best players would have to be their best players to beat the Coyotes. He followed up his words with one of the most spectacular goals of the season, scoring with 21.5 seconds remaining to give Columbus a stunning victory in the opener of a five-game road trip.
Nash, who had scored to tie the game midway through the second period, took Michael Peca’s chip pass just over the red line, deked his way past defensemen Derek Morris and Keith Ballard, and swung past goaltender Mikael Tellqvist before putting the puck into the open left side of the net ( 700K ).
''It just seemed like the puck was on a string,'' Nash said. ''I made a couple of dekes and the puck just stayed with me. Pecs made a nice pass up and it was a 1-on-2. We had three guys back, so I figured I might as well try something.''
Nash’s goal atoned for a high-sticking penalty he took with 3:12 left in regulation and the Jackets leading 3-2. Phoenix capitalized when Martin Hanzal beat Pascal Leclaire with 1:48 remaining ( 700K).
''My stick hit the referee's stick and came up,'' Nash said. ''I should have better control of my stick. I felt pretty bad after they scored.''
Nash finished with two goals and an assist, Rostislav Klesla ( 700K ) and Nikolai Zherdev ( 700K ) also scored, and Sergei Fedorov and Peca each collected two assists for the Blue Jackets, who passed idle St. Louis for second place in the Central Division.
''We were ahead the whole game and probably deserved to win with our attitude the whole game,'' Klesla said.
''They outplayed us. They outworked us. Everything that we have done in the past two to three months, they did to us tonight,'' Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. ''So for us to even tie it up, we were lucky and fortunate. Points are too important and imperative at this point in time in the season. It was a really difficult loss to handle.''
Zherdev put Columbus ahead 3-2 when he scored on a wraparound with 11:34 left in the third period.
''(Nash) and Zherdev had two world-class, third-period goals,'' Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''Our two best players did what we needed them to do. They scored goals.''
A good break — literally — helped the red-hot Ducks win at Nashville.
Brandon Bochenski scored a power-play goal 15:12 into the first period by tipping Mathieu Schneider’s shot past Chris Mason ( 700K ). The Ducks in essence had a two-man advantage because penalty-killer Jerred Smithson broke his stick.
|The Ducks won for the 11th time in fifteen games since Scott Niedermayer returned to the team.
''It kind of turned into a 5-on-3 for us,'' Bochenski said. ''Schneider made a great shot, and I was able to tip it on through.''
Mason was philosophical about the bad break.
''That's the nature of the composite sticks,'' he said. ''If you are trying to block a slap shot, and it hits your stick, there's not much else you can do.''
Ryan Getzlaf, who assisted on Bochenski’s goal, also sent Corey Perry in on a partial breakaway and Perry faked to his backhand before sliding the puck by Mason low to the glove side at 7:26 of the third period ( 700K ).
''I thought we played well tonight, and it showed in the shot total and the chance total,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''It just ended up being a one-goal loss.''
The Ducks improved to 11-2-2 since the return of Scott Niedermayer and are looking more like a defending champion every day.
''They are good in every area,'' Mason said of the Ducks. ''They are big, they are fast, all of their defensemen are great skaters. That's how they won the Stanley Cup.''
The HP Pavilion continued to be a home away from home for the Stars, who won their sixth in a row at San Jose behind a pair of goals by Mike Modano. The Stars broke a 2-2 tie when Modano scored his second of the night with 7:06 remaining. Jeff Halpern added an insurance tally with 2:09 to play.
“We need the points, it is a logjam right at the top there," Stars coach Dave Tippett said after his team pulled even with San Jose in the Pacific Division, one point behind first-place Anaheim. "It's going to continue to be a battle. So there's going to be lots of teams pushing and you have to get into the situation where you just have to control what you can control and that's your team and get as many points as you can."
Modano has scored two goals in a game three times this season — twice at San Jose.
Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek scored for the Sharks, who have lost three straight — all to division rivals — after winning seven of their previous eight. San Jose also fell to 9-10-4 at home. The Stars and Sharks have split six games this season, with the road team winning all six.
"It seems every time we've played them in our building, they have outwaited us, and as the game has gone on, we've found a way to shoot ourselves in the feet," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.
After Michalek and Hagman each scored their 16th goals in the first period, Modano put the Stars ahead late in the second on a fine pass from Loui Eriksson from behind the net. The goal snapped a nine-game drought for Modano.
Thornton tied it early in the third period when his attempt at a pass to Steve Bernier ricocheted off defenseman Matt Niskanen's stick and landed behind Turco. The goal was Thornton's second in two games after going 14 games without one.
“We had a great start to the third period, tied the game, and then it's hard to explain the mistakes, but we got caught late on a shift and a couple of guys were tired because we didn't apply any pressure up the ice," Wilson said.Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used in this report.