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Postgame Notebook, 1-15-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Stepping Up – In Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia, left wing Alexander Semin had a difficult game. His turnover led to the eventual game-winning goal, and his performance did not rank among his best in a Caps sweater.

Left wing Tomas Fleischmann did not dress for the Flyers game. Despite having played well in his last several games, Fleischmann was a healthy scratch against Philadelphia, mostly because Caps captain Chris Clark was pronounced fit and ready to return to the lineup.

Hours before Tuesday’s game with Ottawa, the Caps learned they’d be without center Michael Nylander – the team’s second-leading scorer – for the remainder of the season. Needing some players to step into the void left by Nylander’s absence, the Caps got strong performances from both Semin and Fleischmann in Tuesday’s 4-2 triumph over Ottawa.

Semin scored two goals – including a huge tally late in the second period just 23 seconds after Ottawa had taken a 2-1 lead – and added an assist to record his second multiple-point game of the season. (His first also came against Ottawa when he netted a goal and added two assists against the Sens on Dec. 29.)

Fleischmann had two assists and all but manufactured a key insurance goal with some great work on the forecheck midway through the third period.

Semin’s two-goal game was his first multiple-goal game since he notched a hat trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center on Mar. 18, 2007.

Within Five – Tuesday’s win pulls the Caps to within five points of the top spot in the Southeast Division, a perch currently co-occupied by Atlanta and Carolina. Both the Thrashers and the Hurricanes have 48 points after Tuesday’s action. The Thrashers took out the Red Wings in Detroit by a 5-1 score while the Hurricanes fell in Toronto, 5-4. Washington has 43 points and also has two games in hand on Atlanta and three on Carolina.

The Capitals trail third place Florida by a single point in the Southeast standings and the Panthers visit Verizon on Saturday night.

Sweeping the Sens – With Tuesday’s victory, the Capitals have authored their first sweep of a season series against the Sens since 1995-96.

Home Cooking – Tuesday’s win was the first at Verizon Center for Brent Johnson since Nov. 6, 2006 when he was the winning goaltender in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Sens after coming on in relief of starter Olie Kolzig.

Prior to tonight, the last time Johnson won a home game in which he got the start was in a 3-2 shootout win over the Lightning on Nov. 15, 2005.

Tuesday’s win over Ottawa was Johnson’s first ever regulation win at Verizon Center in a Caps sweater. His most recent win in regulation at the Phone Booth came on Jan. 28, 2003 when he was a member of the St. Louis Blues. St. Louis took a 5-3 win from Washington that night.

No Losing Streak –
Tuesday’s win allows the Caps to again avoid losing consecutive games in regulation. The Caps have now gone 24 straight games (13-7-4) without suffering consecutive losses in regulation. It’s the team’s longest such streak in more than seven years. The Capitals were 16-6-4-0 from Nov. 12, 2000 through Jan. 6, 2001.

The Great Eight – Ovechkin’s third period power play goal was his fifth game-winning tally of the season and the 18th of his NHL career. The goal was his 34th of the season, and 15 of those have come in the third period of games. Ovechkin’s 15 third period goals are the second most of any player in the NHL. He trails only Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk, who has 18 third period goals this season.

Happy Birthday – To ex-Cap tough guy Randy Holt, born on this day in 1953. They say records are made to be broken, but Holt’s single-game NHL record of 67 penalty minutes is likely to stand forever. He established the mark on Mar. 11, 1979 while with the Los Angeles Kings in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Holt picked up all 67 minutes of his penance in the first period. He was assessed one minor, three majors, two 10-minute misconducts and three game misconducts. Holt received a major, a misconduct and a triple-game misconduct at the end of the first period for his involvement in a bench-clearing brawl. He had to sit out the Kings’ next three games.

Holt remains the only man in NHL history ever to receive more minutes in penalties than the length of a regulation game.

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