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The Official Site of the Washington Capitals

Postgame Notebook, 12-8-07

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
First Response Unit – In Friday night’s loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Caps scored a pair of goals, only to respond poorly on the game’s next shift after each of their own tallies.

After Alexander Semin’s goal in the third period cut the New Jersey lead to 2-1, the Caps surrendered a goal on the very next shift as the Devils regained their two-goal advantage. After Brooks Laich’s goal late in the third period cut the deficit to a single goal again, the Caps’ Mike Green committed a hooking penalty with a minute remaining in the game, short-circuiting any chance the Caps may have had of getting the equalizer.

Tonight, the Capitals played the same role the Devils played against them on Friday, sucking the life out of the Thrashers at the key point in Saturday’s 6-3 Washington triumph.

With the Caps enjoying a 3-0 lead in the middle of the second period, Atlanta found itself with a two-man advantage for 1:47. A goal or two for the Thrashers could have turned the tide in this tilt at that stage. Todd White managed to bang home his seventh of the season during the 5-on-3, but the Caps were able to kill off the rest of the 5-on-4 man advantage.

Better yet, they were able to restore the three-goal lead within the next 95 seconds. Better still, the Capitals were able to extend their lead to four goals just 69 seconds after that.

“It was a great way to answer back,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “That’s probably the most impressive thing we did because in the past, from what I’ve seen since I’ve been here, if they score, they drop their heads a little big and the next five minutes it’s more ‘hang on’ time. This was more of a determination. They went right back at them and scored. That’s the way you have to be if you want to be successful.”

Home Cooking – Nicklas Backstrom’s first period goal was his third of the season and the third of his NHL career, but it was his first NHL regular season goal in front of the home folks at Verizon Center.

Exactly a minute after Backstrom’s goal, Jeff Schultz scored his second goal of the season, the second goal of his NHL career, and his first ever goal on Verizon Center ice.

Got his Number –
Ovechkin’s second period goal against Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen was the 12th of his career against the Thrashers netminder. Ovechkin has scored more goals against Lehtonen than he has against any other goaltender in the National Hockey League.

Ovechkin also added an assist, giving him eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last four games. His goal against Atlanta on Saturday is his 21st of the season and it came in the Caps’ 29th game of the season. In 2005-06, Ovechkin netted his 21st goal of the season in the team’s 34th game. Last season, he bagged his 21st goal in Washington’s 31st game of the campaign.

Century City – With his assist on Schultz’s first period goal, Alexander Semin recorded the 100th point of his NHL career. He has 50 goals and 50 assists in his 141 NHL games. Semin now has three points in his last four contests.

Magic Number – When the Caps score three or more goals in a game, they’re 7-4. The problem is, they’ve scored two or fewer goals in 18 of their 29 games this season. Washington is just 3-13-2 when it does not score as many as three goals in a game thus far in 2007-08.

O from the D – Mike Green notched his second two-goal game of the season and was named the game’s No. 1 star as a result. It is just the fourth time this season that a Washington blueliner was named one of the game’s three stars and the second time Green has been so honored.

Defensemen were in on four of the Caps’ six goals on the night, and four of the six Washington blueliners picked up a point in the game.

No Power Needed – All six Washington goals came at even strength on Saturday, marking the first time the Caps scored six even strength goals in a game since Mar. 18, 2007 when they downed the Lightning by a 7-1 count at Verizon Center.

First Blood – Washington has not played well from behind this season, so Backstrom putting the Caps ahead 1-0 in the first was likely as important as any goal in the game. The Caps have dropped 14 straight games in which the opposition has scored first, going 0-12-2 since eking out a 2-1 win over the Islanders after giving up the game’s first goal on Oct. 8.

The Caps are 9-5 when they get on the board first.

Two-Man Trouble – Atlanta notched a goal with the two-man advantage on Saturday, marking the fourth time this season the Caps have surrendered a goal while down two men. Washington opponents are now 4-for-13 in two-man advantage situations this season while the Caps themselves are 0-for-9 when they’re two men to the good.

The Capitals have now gone 33 games without scoring a goal on the two-man advantage, dating back to Chris Clark’s goal against Florida last Mar. 28.

About Time – Last season, Semin was second among all Capitals in goals scored and Matt Pettinger was fourth. This season, Semin scored his second goal of the season in the team’s 28th game and Pettinger notched his second of the campaign in the Caps’ 29th game.

The 800 Club – Congratulations to Caps play-by-play man Steve Kolbe, who called his 800th game behind the microphone in Saturday’s contest against Atlanta. Kolbe started his NHL broadcasting career when he called the season opener of the 1997-98 season against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Oct. 1, 1997.

Ex Marks The Spot – Saturday wasn’t one of Garnet Exelby’s best nights. Sure, he was credited with five hits and four blocked shots to pace the Thrashers in both categories, but he was also a minus-4 on the night, the worst mark of anyone on the ice. It is the worst single-game defensive mark of Exelby’s 246-game NHL career.

Sorry, Wrong Netminder –
Thrashers center Jim Slater is one of the league’s more notorious netminder crashers. Tonight, he took out his own goaltender and it helped enable Pettinger to beat a prone Lehtonen for the Caps’ third goal of the evening.

Down on the Farm – A night after it drubbed the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-2 on the road, Hershey suffered a 3-2 home ice setback to the Philadelphia Phantoms on Saturday. The Bears spotted the Phantoms a 3-0 lead before making it close on power play goals by Louis Robitaille and Jonathan Paiement. Paiement was making his Bears debut on Saturday.

Blueliner Sami Lepisto had two assists and goaltender Frederic Cassivi made 26 stops in a losing effort. The Bears host the Albany River Rats at Giant Center on Sunday.

At 13-9-0-1, the Bears are third in the AHL’s East Division standings, eight points behind Philadelphia and a single point in back of Albany.

Matt Reid scored twice and Davis Parley made 28 saves to help pace the South Carolina Stingrays to a 5-2 win over the Johnstown Chiefs at North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday night. Matt Scherer, Steve Pinizzotto and Travis Morin also scored for the Stingrays and defenseman T.J. McElroy chipped in with three assists.

The contest marked Reid’s second straight two-goal game; he tallied twice in the Stingrays’ 4-1 road win over the Augusta Lynx on Friday night.

South Carolina hosts Johnstown again on Sunday. The Stingrays are now 12-9-1-0 and are in fifth place in the ECHL’s South Division. Saturday’s win was South Carolina’s fifth in succession.

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