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Postgame Notebook, 11-19-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Home is No Help – Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig and Florida netminder Tomas Vokoun both entered Monday night’s game with five losses in the month of November; only Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff (six) had more. One of the two was bound to come out of tonight’s game tied with Kiprusoff, and that turned out to be Kolzig.

Washington has struggled on its home ice surface this season, winning just two of its eight home games. Last season, the Caps did not suffer their sixth regulation loss at home until their 15th home game of the season.

The Caps have lost four straight at home in regulation for the first time since Dec. 19-Jan. 1, 2007, which was right around the time the wheels began to fall off last season’s playoff cart.

Kolzig’s own performance on home ice has been drastically different at home as opposed to on the road, where he has allowed an average of more than one less goal per game this season.

In his seven home starts, Kolzig has posted a 2-5 record with a 3.35 goals against average and a save pct. of .882. In his seven starts on the road, the Caps’ veteran goaltender is 3-4 with a 2.27 goals against average and a .929 save pct. Since shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes in the team’s home opener on Oct. 6, he has allowed at least three goals in each of his last six starts at Verizon Center.

The Caps goaltender took Monday’s loss especially hard. He sat silently in his stall for several minutes with most of his gear still on after the game.

The last time Kolzig surrendered three or more goals in more consecutive home games was from Mar. 8-Apr. 17, 2006, when he was nicked for three or more goals in each of his last seven home ice starts of the 2005-06 season. 

The Caps have scored more than three goals in a home game just once this season, and have done so only three times in 20 games overall. In their last four games on Verizon Center ice, the Capitals have held the lead for just 20:34 combined.

The last time the Caps won as few as two of their first eight home games was in 2000-01 when the team went 2-2-4 in its first eight on home ice. The last time Washington recorded fewer than four points in its first eight home games was in 1998-99 when it opened the season with a 1-5-2 mark in its first eight games in the District.

Return of the 28 Car –
After missing 15 of the team’s first 19 games, left wing Alexander Semin returned to the Washington lineup on Monday. It was Semin’s first game action since he left the Oct. 27 game at St. Louis in the first period.

Semin tallied a nifty deflection goal – his first tally of the season – and skated 18:16 on the night. He logged 7:21 of that time in the third period when Washington was trying to play catch-up.

“I was going to play him 12 minutes; he ended up with 18, “ said Caps coach Glen Hanlon after the game. “He played eight minutes in the third period and scored a remarkable goal. He’ll likely score 40 no matter how many games he plays this year. He’s really quite a talent and no one can appreciate what he did out there tonight.”

Something to Laich – Brooks Laich’s shorthanded goal in the first period was his first shortie of the season, and the fourth of his career. It was his fourth goal of the season, placing him in a tie for third on the team in goals.

Laich netted his fourth goal of the season in his 20th game of 2007-08. Last season, Laich scored his fourth goal in his 30th game of the campaign.

Short Bench – Defenseman John Erskine returned to the lineup on Monday after being a healthy scratch for each of Washington’s previous four games. Erskine skated just 6:31 against the Panthers, with 4:08 of that coming in the first period. He played 2:23 in the second and did not come off the bench in the final frame.

Boyd Gordon had two third period shifts totaling 35 seconds. Dave Steckel did not play in the third period and Donald Brashear played two shifts in the first, one in the second and none in the third.

Streak Halted – Alex Ovechkin’s streak of four straight games with a goal came to a halt on Monday. He picked up an assist but did not connect on any of his five shots on goal. Ovechkin had seven shots blocked and missed the net on one other attempt in the loss to the Panthers. Four of the blocked shots and the miss came in a span of just 17 seconds in the game’s final minute when the Caps were desperately vying for the tying goal.

Lucky Duck – With Semin coming off injured reserve before the game, the Caps had to make a roster move to get down to 23 players. That move came a few hours before game time when Washington shipped center Brian Sutherby to Anaheim in exchange for a second-round draft choice in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

“It sucks,” said Kolzig when asked about Sutherby’s departure after the game. “He was a great teammate and a great guy. But it’s good for him. It’s a fresh start and a new opportunity. I think everybody is going to miss him here. He was a big part of our team and a big part of our dressing room. That’s hockey. That’s pro sports.”

Seven in the Wrong Direction – Monday night’s loss was Washington’s seventh consecutive setback in one-goal games. The Caps are now 1-6-1 in one-goal games this season.

Heavy Duty –
Heading into Monday’s game with the Caps, Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s 27:11 per game ranked third among all NHL skaters. Bouwmeester logged 27:36 in Monday’s game.

Caps total of 43 goals scored is tied for third fewest. Their average of 2.26 goals per game is third lowest.  Washington’s average of 2.29 goals per game at home is tied for fourth lowest in the NHL.

One For the Road – Heading into Monday’s game, Florida sported a dismal 2-8-1 on the road. The Panthers carried an average of 1.82 goals for and 3.00 goals against in their 11 road games. Florida was averaging 32.4 shots on goal at home and just 26.5 on the road.

The Panthers managed just 26 shots against the Caps, but it turned out to be enough to forge their third road win of the season.

No More Jokinen Around –
With his two goals against Washington on Monday, Jokinen now has 13 goals in 43 career games against the Capitals. More than half of that total (eight of the 13) have come in the last 18 games between the two teams, since the lockout ended.

This Date in NHL History –
Hall of Fame defenseman/center Red Kelly netted his first NHL goal for Detroit against the New York Rangers on this date in 1947. Ex-Caps bench boss Jim Schoenfeld tallied his first NHL goal for Buffalo at Vancouver on this date in 1972.

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