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Postgame Notebook 01-03-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Note of the Night – The Caps have been unable to solve Boston goaltender Tim Thomas ever since he first came into the league more than five years ago. Thomas recorded his first win over Washington – and the second win of his NHL career – on Oct. 30, 2002. The Bruins took a 7-2 decision in that game.

It would be three and a half years before Thomas would defeat the Caps again, but he has now vanquished Washington seven times in a span of less than two calendar years. Overall, he is 8-0-1 vs. the Capitals with seven of those wins coming between Jan. 23, 2006 and tonight. He has a 1.82 goals against average and a .940 save pct. in his career against Washington. He has more career wins against the Caps than he does against any other NHL foe, and he has picked up 14% of his 57 career wins against Washington.

Thomas recorded his first shutout of the season and the fifth of his career against the Caps on Thursday. This marks his first shutout against Washington, but he has allowed the Capitals as many as three goals in a game only once, in the most recent prior meeting between the two teams on Mar. 15, 2007 when the Bruins won a 4-3 shootout decision. A Chris Clark hat trick accounted for all the Washington goals in that game.

In his nine career starts against Washington, Thomas has allowed a total of just 17 goals. Only nine of those were even-strength goals; six came on the power play and two were short-handed.

Clark leads the way with four of the goals against Thomas. Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich and Dainius Zubrus each have two. The others came off the sticks of Kip Miller, Steve Konowalchuk, Brian Willsie, Ben Clymer, Matt Pettinger, Jakub Klepis and Eric Fehr.

The only Capital with as many as two even-strength goals against Thomas is Laich. All the Caps in the Washington lineup on Thursday have a combined total of just five goals against Thomas.

“Some guys just love playing against a certain team,” says Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau. “They get that feeling that they are unbeatable against that team. There are some goal scorers that just can’t wait to play against a certain team because they know they’ll be scoring all the time. Evidently, Tim Thomas loves to play against the Capitals.”

Rookie of the Month – Caps center Nicklas Backstrom was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for December on Thursday. Backstrom totaled five goals and 14 points in his 13 December games.

Back in Dec. 2005 and Jan. 2006, Alex Ovechkin copped successive Rookie of the Month Awards, becoming the only Capital ever to achieve that feat. Prior to Ovechkin, goaltender Bob Mason (Dec. 1984), right wing Peter Bondra (Nov. 1990), goaltender Jim Carey (Mar. 1995) and center Jeff Halpern (Mar. 2000) were the previous Capitals to claim the league’s Rookie of the Month award.

Drawing Blanks – After potting 14 goals in their last two games, the Caps came up empty in Boston on Thursday. Washington was blanked for the third time this season, the first time since Nov. 5 and the first time in Boudreau’s 20 games behind the Washington bench.

Streak Stopper – Before losing in regulation to the Bruins on Thursday, the Capitals had gained at least a point in five straight road games (2-0-3). It was Washington’s longest such streak since it went 3-0-3 in six straight road games late in the 2005-06 season.

40,000 Minute Club – Just over four minutes into the first period, Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig surpassed the 40,000-minute plateau for his NHL career. He joins Detroit’s Dominik Hasek and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur as the only active goaltenders to reach 40,000 minutes between the pipes.

Another Man Down –
Caps defenseman Brian Pothier skated 15:39 tonight, but none of it in the third period. He left the game with what was termed an upper body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Working Overtime – For the first time in the last six meetings between the two teams, a Boston-Washington contest did not require overtime to settle the score. For the first time in the last 10 meetings between the two clubs, the game was decided by more than a single goal. Boston is the only Eastern Conference club the Capitals have not defeated in regulation since the lockout ended prior to the 2005-06 season.

Picking up the Points – Boston now joins Montreal and Buffalo as the only three Eastern Conference clubs against which the Capitals have failed to collect a point in their most recent meeting.

A win in Boston tonight would have drawn the Caps to even against the Eastern Conference at the exact halfway mark of the season. As it is, the Capitals are 16-18-4 against fellow Eastern Conference denizens.

Ovie O-Fer – Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Ottawa and Thursday’s shutout loss to Boston mark just the second time this season that Ovechkin has gone two straight games without scoring a goal. He did not score

Missed it by That Much – With a win over Boston on Thursday, Boudreau would have evened Jim Schoenfeld for the best 20-game start by a new Caps head coach in franchise history. Schoenfeld started his career behind the Washington bench with a record if 11-5-4 in his first 20 games. Boudreau fell to 10-6-4 with the loss to the Bruins.

Cap Killer – Thomas isn’t the only Cap killer who had a hand in Thursday’s Bruins win. Boston center Marc Savard netted what proved to be the game-winning goal shortly after exiting the penalty box in the second period. Savard now has seven goals and 39 points in just 28 career games against Washington.

The 0-2 Hole – Prior to Thursday’s game, the Bruins had fallen behind 2-0 in each of their last seven games, winning only one. That streak is over.

Three-Fer -- Thomas joined Manny Fernandez and Alex Auld as the third different Bruin to record a shutout this season. The last time the B's had three goalies with shutouts in the same season was 1997-98 when Byron Dafoe (six), Jim Carey (two) and Robbie Tallas (one) recorded whitewashes. Dafoe and Carey are both ex-Caps.

Notebook Errata – In the postgame notebook after Tuesday’s win over Ottawa, we noted that Olie Kolzig had tied Eddie Giacomin for 25th on the NHL’s all-time wins list with 289. We also added this bit:

Hat tip to Tim Leone of the Harrisburg Patriot-News for this obscure note: Sens rookie Nick Foligno is married to Giacomin’s niece.

Turns out we erred in relaying Leone’s bit. Here’s how it should have read:

Hat tip to Tim Leone of the Harrisburg Patriot-News for this obscure note: Sens rookie Nick Foligno’s mother is Giacomin’s niece.

The staff at Postgame Notebook regrets the error.

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