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The Official Site of the Washington Capitals

Postgame Notebook, 12-26-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Gotta Be Some Kind of Record –
Caps center David Steckel netted the third goal of his NHL career here on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Steckel’s first two goals also came against the Lightning, and they both came in different games against different goaltenders (Marc Denis and Johan Holmqvist, respectively). Tonight’s tally came against a third different goaltender, rookie Karri Ramo.

It’s hard for us to imagine that any other player in NHL history scored his first three goals against the same team but against three different goaltenders in three different games.

Elias Sports Bureau has confirmed that Steckel is the first NHL skater to score his first three goals against different goaltenders on the same team since Edmonton’s Raimo Summanen scored his first three NHL goals against the Los Angeles Kings’ Markus Mattson, Bob Janecyk and Darren Eliot from Mar. 31, 1984 to Oct. 20, 1985. While Summanen’s goals came against three different netminders, they came over the course of only two games, not three as did Steckel’s.

Summanen’s first NHL goal came against fellow Finn Mattson. Finally, during his junior career Summanen and linemates Risto Jalo and Petri Skriko set tournament records (since broken) for goals (22), assists (24) and points (46) in a tournament.

Skriko now works for Washington as a European scout.

Check, Please –
The Caps’ checking unit of Steckel, Matt Bradley and Quintin Laing got the better of Tampa Bay’s top unit of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal. Lecavalier scored both of the Lightning’s goals, but the Steckel trio was not on the ice for either of the league’s leading scorer’s tallies.

Steckel scored the game’s first goal and finished with a goal and two assists for his first multiple-point game in the NHL. Playing in front of his parents, Steckel was named the game’s first star.

Bradley netted the game-winner with just 2:53 left to play and collected an assist on Steckel’s goal. The goal was Bradley’s second of the season. It was his second multiple-point game of the season; he had a goal and two assists in Washington’s 7-1 win at Toronto on Oct. 29. The game-winner was Bradley’s second as a member of the Capitals and his first since Mar. 29, 2006 when he scored twice against the Hurricanes in a 5-1 Washington win at Carolina.

Laing had an assist and was plus-2 on the night. Called up to replace an injured Boyd Gordon late in November, Laing may have played himself out of an “interim” tag. Gordon is set to return to action, but there has been little talk of sending Laing back to AHL Hershey.

The Caps’ checking unit accounted for eight of Washington’s shots on goal while Lecavalier’s line managed only six, five of them from Vinny.

Tighten Up –
Time to dust off the 40-year-old classic of the same name by Archie Bell and the Drells, because the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings did tighten up as a result of Wednesday’s NHL activity.

Ottawa ended Buffalo’s six-game winning streak, and the Senators now lead the East by nine points over second place New Jersey. Only 11 points separate the second place Devils from the last place Capitals in the conference standings, and the Caps now trail the 14th place Lightning by a single point. No more than three points separate any of the teams from 2-15 in the standings, and only one pair of teams (13th place Philadelphia and the Lightning) are separated by as many as three points.

Division Dominance – The Caps went 4-0 against divisional foes in December and are 5-1-1 against Southeast foes under the tenure of Bruce Boudreau. After posting a dismal 1-7-2 record within the division in November, the Caps have won their most recent contest against all four divisional foes and are now 8-7-2 against Southeast opponents on the season.

You Again? – Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba was whistled for slashing Caps sniper Alex Ovechkin in the second period of Wednesday’s game. When the two teams last met in Tampa Bay on Dec. 15, Kuba was issued a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking Ovechkin.

Stick Save and a Beauty – During a Washington power play in the second period, Tampa Bay goaltender Ramo lost his stick and it drifted behind the Lightning net. The rookie goaltender was given a defenseman’s stick to use in the interim.

Ramo’s stick made its way to the front of the net, and it actually stopped an Ovechkin shot during the course of that power play.

One More than Last Year – Returning to the lineup after he missed a game because of a fractured thumb, Caps defenseman Brian Pothier netted his fourth goal of the season on Wednesday against the Lightning. Pothier’s total of four goals in 34 games is one more than he had in his first season with the Capitals. Pothier had three goals in 72 games with Washington in 2006-07.

Junior Achievement – The IIHF World Junior Championship got underway in the Czech Republic today, with the three Capitals participants in the tournament taking the ice in the same game.

Goaltender Michal Neuvirth (Washington’s third choice, second round, 34th overall in the 206 NHL Entry Draft) of the host Czech Republic team was between the pipes for Canada’s 3-0 win this afternoon, and he stopped 27 of 30 shots he faced in a losing effort.  Two of Team Canada’s three goals were power play tallies.

Defensemen Karl Alzner (the Caps’ first choice, fifth overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft) and Josh Godfrey (second choice, 34th overall in 2007) skated for the victorious Team Canada. Alzner, the captain of the Canadian team, did not figure in the scoring. Godfrey was on the ice for all three Canada goals, picking up a pair of assists and registering a plus-1 on the day.

The tournament continues tomorrow. The NHL Network in the U.S. will televise medal round games of the tournament beginning on Jan. 2.

New Blood –
The Caps got their first look at Ramo on Wednesday. The Lightning’s sixth-round choice (191st overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the 21-year-old Ramo is a second-year pro who was summoned to Tampa on Dec. 19. He made two relief appearances with the Lightning last season, and has played well in each of his three starts since being recalled.

Holmqvist was 0-3 with a 6.61 goals against average and an .800 save pct. in his previous four outings, and Denis has just one win in his 10 games this season. The struggles of that duo brought about Ramo’s recall and could keep the kid around for a while.

This Date in NHL History – Ex-Caps defenseman Mark Tinordi potted his first NHL goal on this date in 1987, scoring for the New York Rangers at New Jersey. Hockey Hall of Famer Norm Ullman was born on this date in 1935.

Down on the Farm – The Hershey Bears suffered a 5-4 setback to the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport on Wednesday.

The Bears twice rebounded from two-goal deficits to tie the game, but fell when Bridgeport’s Sean Bentivoglio beat Hershey goaltender Daren Machesney at 18:14 of the third period. The goal was Bentiviglio’s second of the night.

Jason Morgan, Kyle Wilson, Jaime Hunt and Ben Clymer scored for Hershey. The loss dropped the Bears into a tie for fourth place in the AHL’s East Division standings. Hershey now travels to Norfolk where it will face the Admirals on Friday night. The Bears host the Admirals at Giant Center on Saturday and entertain the Philadelphia Phantoms on New Year’s Eve.

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