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Postgame Notebook, 12-14-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Missed Opportunities – In what was a very winnable game, Washington missed an opportunity to run up its first four-game winning streak in more than a year. Goaltender Olie Kolzig also missed a chance to win four straight for the first time in more than a year. The Capitals missed a shot at their first sweep of a four-game homestand since 2000.

Finally, with a win, the Caps could have pulled to within a point of Buffalo in the Eastern Conference standings and within seven of Carolina, which currently sits atop the Southeast Division.

Penalty Killing Prowess --
Four years ago at this time, the Capitals were in the midst of a stretch in which they did not allow multiple power play goals during a span of 20 straight games. That run began on Nov. 8, 2003 and extended to Dec. 17. During that period, Washington went shorthanded as many as seven times in a game just once and it killed off 70 of 81 opposing power plays (86.1%).

That streak spanned the end of the Bruce Cassidy era and the beginning of the Glen Hanlon era behind the Washington bench.

The team’s current stretch of 11 straight games without surrendering more than one power play tally in a game is its longest since 2003. The Caps have killed 44 of 48 (91.7%) and have faced more than five shorthanded situations just twice during that span, including Friday night when they killed off all six Sabres power plays.

Bringing Up the Rear – Defensemen Milan Jurcina and Tom Poti picked up assists on Brooks Laich’s third period goal. With those two points, Washington defensemen have now combined for 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists) in 32 games this season. At that pace, Caps defenders would finish the season with 141 points. That would be the highest total of any Washington blueline brigade since the 2000-01 defense corps totaled 147 points.

Too Many Too Many Men – Buffalo got called once and the Caps twice for having too many men on the ice. The Sabres bench barked after it was whistled for the infraction, but replays showed the Sabres had seven skaters on the ice, two more than are allowed.

The second time the Caps were called for the penalty, they had six skaters in the offensive zone. Shortly after killing that penalty, the Caps again had too many men on the ice but the violation went undetected.

Opposite Ends of the One-Goal Spectrum – With Jochen Hecht’s empty-netter late in the contest, tonight’s game ended up being a two-goal game. These two teams came into Friday night’s game at the opposite end of the spectrum in one-goal games.

Washington is 5-8-1 in one-goal games, tied for fourth-worst in the league while Buffalo is 5-0-3, the second best mark in the circuit.

To the Third Power – Alex Ovechkin’s 10 third period goals are tied for second in the league, just two behind Ilya Kovalchuk of Atlanta. Ovechkin trails Kovalchuk in overall goals by just one (24 to 23).

Back in the Middle – Caps center Michael Nylander returned to the lineup on Friday after missing four games with an injury. Washington was 1-for-15 on the power play in his absence. The Caps scored on their second power play of Friday’s game and were 1-for-4 with the extra man on the night. Nylander picked up an assist on the Caps’ power play tally.

Magic Number –
Friday marked the fourth straight game in which Washington netted three or more goals in a game. The last time the Caps registered three or more goals in as many as four consecutive contests was Jan. 4-13, 2007 when they notched three of more goals in five straight games.

Seventeen different Capital players have recorded at least a point in the team’s last four games.

Streaking – Ovechkin extended his scoring streak to seven straight games (six goals, five assists). Viktor Kozlov now has an assist in four straight games, matching the longest such streak of his NHL career.

Happy Birthday –
To ex-Caps goaltender Bill Ranford who celebrated his 41st birthday on Friday.

Down on the Farm --  The Hershey Bears blasted the Norfolk Admirals 5-1 at Norfolk on Friday night. The Bears scored four third period goals to make a winner of Daren Machesney, who made 19 stops in the Hershey nets.

Andrew Joudrey scored twice while Kyle Wilson and Grant Potulny both chipped in with a goal and two assists to pace the Hershey attack. Scott Barney had a goal and an assist while Sami Lepisto contributed two helpers.

Hershey is tied with Binghamton for third place in the AHL’s East Division. The Bears trail Philadelphia by seven points and Albany by four. Hershey hosts Toronto on Saturday and Binghamton on Sunday.

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