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Postgame Notebook, 11-28-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Start Me Up – The Capitals slogged through the first period, surrendering the game’s first goal to ex-Cap Richard Zednik at 4:49 and getting outshot 7-1 in the first 10 minutes. Only the stellar goaltending of Olie Kolzig – and a nifty play by Tom Poti to diffuse a 3-on-1 – kept the Capitals within striking distance during the first 20 minutes of the contest.

The Caps found their legs and rebounded a bit in the second. Washington was able to tie the game when Florida’s Steve Montador committed a miscue the likes of which Caps fans have seen before this season. He fired an ill-advised pass up the middle of the ice from his own goal line. The Caps’ Chris Clark intercepted the feed and fired a shot from the high slot that beat Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

That was about enough excitement for one night. The Panthers played road hockey and neither team was able to jump ahead with their rare scoring chances afterwards. Mike Green made a nice feed to Dave Steckel in front, but Vokoun was able to handle Steckel’s one-timer.

Green himself had a chance to close the deal just before the seven-minute mark of the third, but his bid rang off the goalpost to Vokoun’s blocker side. The Caps’ defensive zone breakdowns were much more occasional during the final 45 minutes, and Kolzig was able to handle everything he saw with aplomb.

The Capitals needed two points tonight, but got only one. They can’t afford to waste excellent goaltending performances like Kolzig gave them on Wednesday.

Shoot Me, Please – A game this dreary deserved the ignominy of a shootout coda, and as fate would have it, the sparse crowd was subject to an 11-round shootout, the second longest in Washington’s shootout history. The Caps were unable to win it despite enjoying a power play for the final 1:59 of overtime.

Alex Ovechkin had the best chance to send the Caps home with two points in the waning seconds of the extra session, but Vokoun’s right-handed catching glove got between the left wing’s one-time blast and the back of the net.

“He moved and got lucky,” said Ovechkin. “If he was left-handed it would have been a goal. He didn’t move, but made the save. It’s okay though, I’ll get it next time.”

That’s Not Right – There are five right-handed catching netminders in the league who have NHL history against the Capitals: Los Angeles’ J-S Aubin, the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro, Edmonton’s Mathieu Garon, Colorado’s Jose Theodore and Florida’s Vokoun. Those five goaltenders have combined to go 24-17-3 with six shutouts and a 2.26 goals against Washington during their NHL career.

Those same five goaltenders have a 576-576-24 career record with 76 shutouts and a 2.71 goals against average. It’s fair to say that the Capitals have struggled against righty-catching netminders.

First Blood – After Wednesday’s shootout loss to the Panthers, Washington is now 0-11-2 in its last 13 games when the opponent scores first. The Caps are 1-11-2 overall when the opposition gets on the board first, the worst record in the NHL in such situations.

Scoreless Third –
With 18 third period goals, the Caps are tied for third fewest in the league. Florida has surrendered 33 third period tallies, the most in the NHL. Washington was unable to add to its third-period goal total on this night.

Minute Men – Both Ovechkin (30:09) and Green (25:34) set single-game career bests in ice time on Wednesday. Ovechkin’s 11 shots on goal is the most he has had this season, and the most he has registered since he ripped a dozen shots on net in a Dec. 15 game at Atlanta last season. Ovechkin recorded a hat trick – including the game-winner in overtime – against the Thrashers that night.

Kolzig Milestone – Kolzig played in his 676th game with the Caps on Wednesday, passing former Islander Billy Smith and moving into fourth place on the all-time list of games by a goaltender with one franchise. Kolzig trails Martin Brodeur (911 with the Devils), Tony Esposito (873 with the Blackhawks) and Terry Sawchuk (734 with the Red Wings).

Ailing – Caps forwards Clark and Alexander Semin both left the game early with injuries and were unavailable for the shootout. Neither ailment is thought to be serious, and Clark said he would be on the ice for Thursday morning’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Kreps a Caps Killer – Kamil Kreps – he of the four career NHL goals – authored the contest-deciding shootout tally. Kreps is already building quite a résumé of Cap killing. Two of his four career goals have come against the Caps

This Date in NHL History – Three noteworthy first NHL goals were scored on this date in league history, one by a short-time ex-Cap and the others by a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers.

Known as “The Road Runner,” speedy Canadiens winger Yvon Cournoyer spent his first few seasons in the league as a power play specialist, but later evolved into a solid all-around player. Cournoyer’s first NHL goal came on this date against the Red Wings in Detroit.

Defenseman Rod Seiling spent most of his NHL career with the New York Rangers, but he stopped in Washington for one game during the Capitals’ inaugural campaign of 1974-75. Seiling scored his first NHL goal for the Rangers against Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens on this date in 1964.

On this date in 1970, former Maple Leafs great Darryl Sittler tallied his first NHL goal for Toronto against the Detroit Red Wings at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Down On The Farm –
Hershey hosted the Binghamton Senators before a sellout crowd at Giant Center tonight. The Bears skated off with a 4-3 shootout victory.

Jay Beagle, Chris Bourque and Scott Barney scored for Hershey. The Senators scored on the power play, shorthanded and on a penalty shot while all three Bears goals came at even strength. Josef Boumedienne and Ben Clymer scored in the shootout for Hershey, while Bears goalie Daren Machesney stopped all four shootout bids after saving 28 of the 31 shots he faced during the game.

The win leaves the Bears with an 11-8 record and pushes them into third place in the AHL’s East Division standings.

South Carolina traveled to Biloxi tonight to take on the Mississippi Sea Wolves. The Stingrays scored three power play goals to take a 5-3 decision over the hosts.

Pierre-Luc O’Brien scored twice and Steve Pinizzotto, Stephen Werner and Andrew Gordon netted the other three goals. South Carolina scored three times in the third to erase a 3-2 deficit and make a winner out of goaltender Davis Parley who stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced.

The Stingrays ended a six-game skid with Wednesday’s win.

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