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Postgame Notebook, 11-24-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Bringing Back the Power – Two games into the Bruce Boudreau administration in Washington, one of the biggest differences in the Capitals is in their performance in the power play. Boudreau made some tweaks in the personnel, promoting Nicklas Backsrrom and Mike Green to the first unit and moving Alex Ovechkin up to his more customary forward spot from the point, where he had been stationed for the first 21 games of the season.

The results have been startling.

The Capitals netted three power play goals in four chances on Saturday night, using their extra man success to cruise to a 5-2 win over Carolina. More telling, the three power play goals came in a span of just 1:17 of power play time; all three goals were scored within the first minute of Carolina infractions and two of them came within the first 15 seconds of the penalties. Washington needed just three power play shots on goal to score the three goals.

When Ovechkin was on the point, defenders were naturally drawn to him. Opponents figure they’d rather let one of the other guys beat them, if they can. With so much manpower drawn to Ovechkin, it made it very difficult for him to get his shots through from the point.

Now, with Ovechkin down low, defenders are still drawn to him. And that allows more room to roam up top where point men Tom Poti (two power play assists in two games) and Mike Green (two power play goals in two games) are taking advantage.

In Boudreau’s two games behind the bench, Washington is 4-for-7 (57.1%) on the power play. Prior to that, the Caps’ previous four power play goals were spread out over a span of eight games during which they went 4-for-34 (11.8%) with the extra man.

Tonight’s game marked the third time this season the Caps have had multiple power play goals in the same game; they are 2-1 in those contests. Saturday night’s game marks the first time this season the Caps have had as many as three power play goals in a game in 2007-08. The Caps turned that trick only twice all last season, most recently on Feb. 27 in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Panthers at Verizon Center. The Caps were 1-0-1 in games when they netted as many as three power play goals last season.

Washington had three games in which it scored as many as three power play goals in 2005-06, posting a 2-1 record in those tilts.

Up Three – It’s been a while since Washington enjoyed 3-0 leads in consecutive games; the last two games mark the first time the Caps have opened up 3-0 leads in consecutive games since before the lockout. The last two contests mark only the second time this season that the Caps have even scored as many as three goals in consecutive games (Oct. 27-29).

A Pair for Eight –
Tonight marked the second time this season and the third time in his NHL career that Ovechkin enjoyed a multiple-goal game. He has two hat tricks and 18 two-goal games. Washington is 13-7 when Ovechkin scores more than one goal in a game.

Last Minute Woes – The Caps surrendered a goal to Carolina – the Hurricanes’ first goal of the game – with just 8.3 seconds remaining in the second period. Washington has now been outscored 7-2 in the last minute of periods this season. Both of Washington’s goals in the final minutes of periods this season have been empty-netters.

Five in Two – Caps rookie Nicklas Backstrom had a pair of assists on Saturday and now has back-to-back multiple-point games. Backstrom has five points in the last two games, his 22nd and 23rd games in the NHL. Ovechkin did not record as many as five points in any two games until the 26th and 27th games of his rookie season.

Home Win – Saturday night’s win was Washington’s first on home ice in exactly one month. The team’s previous Verizon Center victory came when it defeated Tampa Bay by a 5-3 score on Oct. 24. The Caps are now 3-8 on home ice this season, with two of the three wins coming over Carolina.

Stopping the Southeast Skid – Saturday’s win ends a stretch in which Washington went 0-6-1 in its last seven games against divisional foes. The Caps started the season by winning their first three games against Southeast Division opponents.

The Caps are now 4-6-1 against division opponents this season. Three of Washington’s next four games against Southeast Division clubs.

Where Were Ya on That One? – Carolina winger Craig Adams was the only one of the Hurricanes’ 18 skaters who did not register a shot on goal in Saturday’s game.

On This Date in NHL History – On this date in 1938, Detroit center Sid Abel netted the first of the 189 goals he scored during his Hall of Fame NHL career. Abel is the grandfather of Capitals goaltender Brent Johnson.

Down on the Farm –
A night after defeating the Philadelphia Phantoms by a 2-1 score in Philly, the Bears suffered a 6-0 home ice setback to the Phantoms. Philly netted two in the first and four more in the second to rout the Bears and chase Frederic Cassivi to the bench. Cassivi was nicked for five goals on 25 shots and backup Daren Machesney gave up one goal on the four shots he faced.

Hershey is now 9-8 on the season and tied for fourth in the AHL’s East Division.

The ECHL South Carolina Stingrays suffered a 2-1 home ice loss to the Texas Wildcatters on Saturday. Travis Morin scored the Stingrays’ lone goal of the game. The Rays are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have slipped to seventh in the ECHL’s South Division standings.

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