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Ovechkin's new wrinkle

Friday, 10.03.2008 / 11:21 PM / Game-Day Skate

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

None of Alex Ovechkin's 65 goals in 2007-08 came while the Washington Capitals were shorthanded — in fact, he spent only 13:09 on the ice all season while the Caps were killing penalties.

But that could change this season.

Ovechkin scored a shorthanded goal Friday night to open the scoring as the Capitals rolled to a 5-1 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ovechkin started the scoring with five minutes left in the first period, just 14 seconds after teammate Jay Beagle was penalized for hooking. He brought the puck past the blue line, faked a shot, then beat Jean-Sebastien Aubin from the top of the right circle.

In all, Ovechkin played 3:17 while the Caps were shorthanded — nearly 25 percent of his entire total for all of last season. The goal was Ovechkin's second shorthanded tally of the preseason, and coach Bruce Boudreau is weighing whether to give the reigning Hart Trophy winner more time on the penalty kill during the regular season.

Prior to his shorthanded goal on Monday against New Jersey, Ovechkin had gone nearly 2 1/2 years (March 2, 2006) since scoring while the Caps were killing a penalty.

Ovechkin also set up both of Washington's second-period goals. Chris Clark took a pass from Ovechkin in front of the net, missed high but got his own rebound and beat Aubin at 3:50. Niklas Backstrom made it 3-0 at 8:45, with Ovechkin getting the second assist. He now has four goals and seven points in three games.

Daniel Briere's power-play goal at 5:18 of the third period got the Flyers on the board, but goals by Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr, both set up by Sergei Fedorov, put the game away.

Fedorov, a center throughout his career, spent more than 17 minutes as a defensemen, a role he's likely to play at some point during the regular season.

"He made some great outlet passes. Never panicked. Made a couple of mistakes, but overall, from my aspect he passed," Boudreau said. "He can play there, for a guy who hasn't played there for a long time."

Boudreau said Fedorov might play there again Sunday against Boston. "I don't think he's going to forget how to play center," he joked.

Boudreau still hasn't decided how much, if any, Fedorov will play on defense in the regular season. But Fedorov is ready.

"It worked out good today," Fedorov said of playing on the blue line. "I was still nervous. It was good to play in a real game, with some real intensity out there."

Islanders 3, Devils 2, OT
The Islanders left many of their regulars home when they visited the Prudential Center but still picked up a victory when Chris Lee celebrated his 28th birthday by scoring at 2:28 of overtime.

The Devils, using almost the same lineup that they'll dress next Friday against the Isles in their season-opener, carried the play for most of the night but were stymied by third-string goaltender Yann Danis, who made 28 saves.

Lee, likely headed for the minors when the Isles make their final cuts, snapped a shot past Kevin Weekes as the Islanders avenged a 3-0 home loss to the Devils two nights earlier.

"I don't think the goalie saw it, and to be honest I didn't see it go in, either," Lee said. "It was a delayed celebration, but it was a great feeling. This is definitely the best birthday present I've ever gotten."

New Jersey took a 1-0 lead 3:32 into the game when defenseman Johnny Oduya let go a shot from above the left circle that hit the right post and caromed behind Danis.

The Islanders tied it on Andy Hilbert's stuff shot near the right post with 4:29 left in the first period, and Kurtis McLean made it 2-1 just 2:55 later when his drive from the left point hit a Devil and dipped past Weekes.

Zach Parise's power-play goal with 26.4 seconds left in the middle period pulled the Devils even. After showing little jump for most of the first two periods, New Jersey had the first 12 shots of the third period but was unable to beat Danis.

"For the first half of the game, that's exactly what we were," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "We did a much better job in the second half of having some assertiveness and puck pursuit. Our forecheck was a lot better, there wasn't as many gaps. The shots on goal showed that."

Rick DiPietro, the Isles' No. 1 goaltender, is close to returning from offseason surgery. He skated with teammates Friday morning and is expected to play Monday when the Islanders finish their preseason schedule at Florida. He hasn't played since mid-March and is coming off hip and knee surgery.

 
 

Red Wings 5, Maple Leafs 3
Johan Franzen's goal with 1:57 left in regulation broke a tie at Joe Louis Arena in a game that also matched teams slated to see each other on opening night. Toronto, which overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, tied the game on Mikhail Grabovski's goal at 9:49 of the third period. But Franzen knocked in a rebound for his second of the game to put the Wings ahead and Valtteri Filppula hit the empty net with 15 seconds left.

Franzen is playing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler because coach Mike Babcock opted to split Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, using each as a center to diversify his attack.

"It gets better and better every game," Franzen said of playing with his new linemates. "It felt good to get two and get the feeling back."

Nicklas Lidstrom and Franzen gave the Wings a 2-0 lead after the first period, but Toronto tied the game in the second on goals by Alex Steen and Jiri Tlusty. Henrik Zetterberg's power-play goal 1:54 into the third period put Detroit ahead again.

Blue Jackets 5, Wild 3
Defenseman Kris Russell's goal midway through the third period put Columbus ahead to stay after the visiting Wild overcame an early 3-0 deficit.

Minnesota scored three times in a 2:14 span late in the second period to tie the game, but Russell's goal at 10:18 put the Blue Jackets back in front and Manny Malholtra added an empty-netter with 55 seconds left.

"We really got risky with the puck and it hurt us," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Newcomers Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger each had a goal and an assist as the Blue Jackets built their early lead. But after Owen Nolan's power-play goal at 14:10 of the second period gave the Wild a spark, Marian Gaborik capitalized on Rick Nash's turnover to score an unassisted goal at 15:08, then set up James Sheppard's tying goal at 16:24.

"That's what happens when you don't skate in this game, you get behind," said Minnesota defenseman Kim Johnsson, who had an assist on Nolan's goal. "After we got the first goal we started skating more."

"We're seeing the evolution of Jordin Tootoo. I told him he needs to play that Gary Roberts-type game. Play with that edge, but also the skill game." – Predators coach Barry Trotz



Predators 6, Thrashers 4
Like the Blue Jackets, Nashville blew an early lead before rallying to win. Jordin Tootoo scored on a power play to cap a three-goal rally early in the third period.

Rich Beverly scored at 2:16 of the third period and David Legwand tied it two minutes later. Tootoo knocked in a rebound to put the Predators at 7:24. Joel Ward scored an insurance goal with 1:58 left.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was impressed by Tootoo's performance.

"We're seeing the evolution of Jordin Tootoo," Trotz said. "I told him he needs to play that Gary Roberts-type game. Play with that edge, but also the skill game."

Nashville's outburst came against rookie goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who replaced Johan Hedberg after two periods.

"They score four goals and I should stop three," Pavelec said. "No excuse for that. That was probably the worst period of my life."

Vernon Fiddler scored for Nashville just 26 seconds in and the Predators took a 2-0 lead on Dan Hamhuis' power-play goal at 6:04 before the Thrashers scored four times in the final seven minutes of the first period.

White scored a power-play goal at 13:07 and Joey Crabb tied it at 14:57. Colby Armstrong gave Atlanta the lead with a shorthanded goal at 16:43 and Slava Kozlov scored with 11 second left in the period while the Thrashers enjoyed a two-man advantage.

It was the first preseason game for Kozlov, who had shoulder and knee surgery in the offseason. Defenseman Mathieu Schneider, acquired from Anaheim late last week, is scheduled to make his Thrashers debut in the final preseason game Saturday night against St. Louis.

Jason Arnott didn't make the trip after his suburban Nashville home was damaged in an overnight fire. No one was injured.

Blackhawks 7, Avalanche 4
Dustin Byfuglien and Martin Havlat each scored twice as the Blackhawks won a wide-open game in Denver.

Byfuglien scored 1:18 into the game and Havlat made it 2-0 at 10:20 before the Avs rallied to take the lead. David Jones scored 75 seconds after Havlat's goal to make it 2-1, and Colorado went ahead when Paul Stastny and Jones beat Cristobal Huet in the first 2:45 of the second period.

But the Hawks tied it when David Bolland scored at 5:37 and went ahead to stay on Brent Seabrook's goal at 9:08. Patrick Sharp and Byfuglien made it 6-3 in the third period before Stastny scored again and Havlat hit the empty net.

Patrick Kane had three assists for the Blackhawks, increasing his preseason total to eight. The Hawks host Colorado on Sunday in the last preseason game for both teams.

Flames 4, Oilers 3 (OT)
Curtis Glencross handed his former team a preseason defeat by scoring 2:22 into overtime as Calgary won for the fifth time in seven exhibition games.

Glencross beat rookie Edmonton goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslaurier on a backhander after picking up a loose puck at center ice. The Flames forced the extra period when Jarome Iginla notched his second goal of the night at 5:58 of the third.

Jamie Lundmark added a power-play goal for Calgary, which lost Todd Bertuzzi after a slapper by Marc Giordano caught him squarely on the right foot during a 5-on-3 in the second.

Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano and Marc-Andre Pouliot had goals for the Oilers, who have just one win in six preseason contests.

Ducks 4, Coyotes 1
Teemu Selanne’s hat trick lifted Anaheim, which also received three assists each from defenseman Scott Niedermayer and free-agent signee Brendan Morrison.

Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks and goaltender Jonas Hiller turned aside 19 shots.

After Selanne opened the scoring midway through the first period, Peter Mueller tied it for Phoenix just 1:32 later. Selanne put Anaheim in front to stay during a power play in the second, then Perry made it 3-1 on another man advantage. Selanne completed his three-goal effort 2:46 into the third.









 

Quote of the Day

It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.

— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks