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Postgame Notebook, 1-17-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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George Herman Bradley – Not only was Matt Bradley the only one of 24 shooters to find the back of the net and put us out of our shootout misery on Thursday, he called his shot. He implored Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau to put him in so he could git ’er done.

“I told him, ‘Let me go and I’ll score,’ and got very lucky and scored,” said Bradley afterwards. And then he launched into a series of rapid fire one-liners that would have made any stand-up comedian proud.

“I looked at him and told him a couple times, ‘I’ll score, I’ll score,’ said Bradley. “I think he said, ‘I know, I know,’ and picked other guys. I don’t think he actually believed what I was saying.”

On whether he was smiling or smirking after he scored:
“I was just happy. I blacked out there for a second. I didn’t know what happened.

“I was hoping I’d get to go before Brent Johnson went.”

On what move he used:
“I don’t have any moves. I lost the puck and tried to grab it again.”

After the game, Bradley entered the room and told his teammates he’d be putting on a clinic for them at practice tomorrow.

Oh Canada – With Thursday’s triumph over the Oilers, Washington is now 7-2 against Canadian teams this season. The Caps scored four second period goals against the Oilers, marking the third time this season they’ve netted four goals in a single period. All three have come against Canadian teams: Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton.

This One Goes to Eleven – With Thursday’s win, the Caps climbed over both the Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference standings. Washington now occupies 11th place in the conference, four points behind eighth place Boston. The Capitals are now third in the Southeast Division, four points behind Atlanta and three points behind Carolina.

Washington has two games in hand with Atlanta and three with Carolina. The Capitals’ five-game homestand concludes at Verizon on Saturday when the Florida Panthers visit. That contest is a big one; it’s Washington’s lone divisional game in a span of 37 days.

Within Your Reach – Thursday’s win was Washington’s 20th of the season, and it drew the Caps to within a game of “break-even hockey” at 20-21-5. The last time the Caps were that close to break even was on the morning of Nov. 1 before a 2-0 loss to the Rangers in New York. Washington was 5-6 at that juncture, some 78 days ago.

And Then There Was One – By virtue of his second period goal against the Oilers, Alex Ovechkin has now tallied a point against 29 of the NHL’s 30 teams. Ovechkin has goose eggs against only the San Jose Sharks.

Three-Spots – Both Alexander Semin and Mike Green netted a goal for the third consecutive game on Thursday.

Shooting Blanks – Tonight’s 12-round shootout was the second longest in the ignominious shootout annals of the Washington Capitals. The only longer one was a 15-rounder (a 4-3 loss) against the Rangers in New York on Nov. 26, 2005.

Draw Men – Thursday’s game featured the league’s top two face-off men in the month of January: Washington’s Brooks Laich (67.3%) and Edmonton’s Jarret Stoll (66.3%).

Laich fared better in Thursday’s game, winning six of seven (86%) while Stoll won only 8 of 12 (40%).

Gord’s Gold – Over the long haul, the Caps are certain to miss veteran playmaking center Michael Nylander, the team’s highest paid skater, its leading assist man and its second leading scorer. But for now, Boyd Gordon is filling in quite nicely for Nylander, who is lost for the season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery.

Since coming off injured reserve late in December, Gordon has two goals and eight points and is plus-5 in nine games. Normally a checking line pivot, Gordon has been tasked with centering the team’s second line between Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann, the sport formerly occupied by Nylander.

Gordon picked up two assists on Thursday night and was named the game’s No. 1 star.

O From the D – Since Boudreau took over on Nov. 23, the Capitals are 12-1-2 in games in which they get at least one goal from a defenseman.

Victim of Circumstance – Washington’s Viktor Kozlov was the victim of one of the sillier penalty calls we’ve seen of late. Kozlov was given a hard two-handed whack courtesy of Edmonton’s Steve Staios early in the first period. The baseball swing was hard enough to break Staios’s stick, but it was Kozlov who was given a two-minute minor for slashing.

He was framed.

Nilsson Schmilsson – Nilsson now has two goals and five points in four career games against Washington.

Bloodlines – Two Edmonton players – Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson – the sons of former NHL players (Dave Gagner and Kent Nilsson, respectively). It was fun watching the two kids play “catch” with a puck at the end of Thursday’s morning skate at Verizon; they’ve both been blessed with some soft hands. The two took turns scooping pucks onto their sticks and flipping them at each other, then catching them lacrosse-style with their sticks in the air.

Tough Town – Edmonton’s winless streak in Washington is now at six. The Caps have won six straight over the Oilers in Washington, dating back to Edmonton’s 3-1 victory at USAir Arena on Jan. 26, 1997. The Oilers have never won in Verizon Center. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the only other NHL team that has never won at the Phone Booth.

Power Supply – Edmonton came into Thursday’s game ranked 28th in the league in power play prowess, but the Oil has been slick with the extra man of late.

The Oilers converted two of five power play chances against Washington, and they’re now 9-for-34 (26.5%) in their last eight games.

Happy Birthday – To legendary Hall of Fame goaltender Jacques Plante, born on this day in 1929. And to a guy who is winding down his NHL career but who could well find himself being inducted into the Hall himself someday, Jeremy Roenick. Roenick was born on this day in 1970.

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