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Postgame Notebook, 12-10-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Goodbye, Monkeys – Prior to Monday night’s 3-2 win over the Devils, the Capitals had lost 14 straight games (0-12-2) in which they’d surrendered the game’s first goal. The only previous time the Caps won in such a situation this season was on Oct. 8 on Long Island when they eked out a 2-1 win after spotting the Isles a 1-0 lead.

With the win over New Jersey, the Caps are now 2-16-2 in games in which they have trailed at some point.

The win also marks the first time this season that Washington has won consecutive home games. The Caps’ most recently won successive games at home on mar. 16-18 against Toronto and Tampa Bay.

Monday night’s triumph is the Capitals’ first over the Devils at the Phone Booth since before the lockout. Washington’s previous win over New Jersey in the District came on Feb. 19, 2004. The Caps were 0-3-1 against the Devils in their last four meetings in the District before tonight. Boston is now the only Eastern Conference team the Caps have not defeated at home since the lockout.

Finally, Monday’s win is the first time this season the Caps have followed a three-goal victory with a win in the next game. Dating back to last season, Washington had dropped seven of its last eight games following victories of three or more goals.

Stifled in the Second – The Caps played coach Bruce Boudreau’s system to a tee in the second period, limiting the Devils to just two shots on goal in the middle frame. The Caps had 10 shots of their own in the period, and put two of them behind New Jersey goaltender Kevin Weekes  

Good Things Come in Threes –
Washington is now 8-4 in games when it scores three or more goals. When the Caps score two or fewer goals, they’re 3-13-2.

No Cheering in the Press Box –
Us press box denizens generally remain outwardly stoic throughout most of the events on the ice during the course of games and seasons. But we’re also human, and we love a good story.

We didn’t cheer and clap hands when Quintin Laing notched his first NHL goal late in the second period of Monday’s game, but with a strong contingent of Hershey front office types in the house, we exchanged a few nods, smiles, knowing glances and pats on the back. Laing is an exemplary guy, and one of those players you find yourself rooting for. That it turned out to be the game-winner made it all the sweeter for all of us, but especially for Laing himself.

Congratulations to Quintin on his first NHL goal. He joins David Steckel, Jeff Schultz and Nicklas Backstrom as the fourth Capital to net his first career NHL goal this season.

Caps Kids –
Both Backstrom and Schultz scored in their second consecutive games for the first time in their young NHL careers on Monday. Moreover, they scored in the same order as they did on Saturday against Atlanta. In each of the last two contests, Backstrom has scored Washington’s first goal of the game and Schultz has supplied its second.

Johnny Two Times Two Times – Caps defenseman John Erskine made a nifty bank pass off to the wall to Alex Ovechkin, who then fed Schultz for his goal. Erskine later gained another assist when Laing put back his point shot. It marks the second time in Erskine’s NHL career that he has had a two-point night.

Erskine’s first two-point game was on Dec. 2, 2006 when he had an assist and a 200-foot empty-net goal in a 7-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.

Powering Up –
Backstrom’s power play goal was his second power play marker of the season. It broke up a Washington extra-man drought, too. Before Backstrom beat Weekes, the Caps were 0-for-12 on the power play and had not scored with the extra man since Alex Ovechkin’s third period goal in Carolina on Nov. 30.

Good Show – Two goals – one from each team – were disallowed in Monday’s game. Kudos to the Caps’ game ops crew for showing replays of both on the scoreboard. Controversial or not, we maintain that you have to show the replays because fans can pay much less to sit at home and see the replays. You must not subtract value from the in-arena experience.


On This Date in Capitals History – It was four years ago today that the Capitals hired Glen Hanlon as head coach to replace Bruce Cassidy. A day later, on Dec. 11, 2003, the Caps forged a 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins at the Phone Booth in Hanlon’s first game behind the Washington bench.

As mentioned earlier, the Caps have not defeated Boston in the District since.

Favorable Match-up – New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur got the night off on Monday, a move that surely didn’t cause any of the Capitals to shed a tear. Brodeur is 31-11-4 with six shutouts and a 2.10 career goals against average against the Caps.

Weekes entered Monday’s game with a 2-13-1 record and a 3.25 goals against average in his career against the Capitals.

Streaks Stopped – Before Monday’s loss to Washington, New Jersey had gained at least a point in 10 straight games (9-0-1).

The game also marks the first time this season that the Devils have dressed seven defensemen for a game and lost. New Jersey is now 8-1 in games in which it has dressed seven blueliners.
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