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Postgame Notebook, 2-10-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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700 Club – Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig played in his 700th game in a Caps sweater on Sunday. He becomes the first Washington goaltender to achieve the feat and joins seven other Caps – Calle Johansson, Peter Bondra, Kelly Miller, Dale Hunter, Michal Pivonka, Mike Gartner and Rod Langway – in that distinct group.

More important than the milestone was Kolzig’s play. He was stellar from start to finish, turning in a vintage Kolzig performance and making several big stops to ensure that Washington gained at least a point on this day. The Capitals spent 12 minutes of the game playing a man short and Kolzig made nine of his 31 saves while the Rangers were on the power play.

Kolzig was named the game’s first star on Sunday for his efforts. It marks the first time Kolzig was the No. 1 star of a contest since he earned that designation in back-to-back contests on Oct. 6 and 8 against Carolina and the Islanders, respectively.

Finally, Sunday’s win was the 296th of Kolzig’s NHL career, tying him with former Flyers great Ron Hextall for 23rd place on the NHL’s all-time wins ledger. Next up on Kolzig’s hit parade: former Ranger Mike Richter. Richter currently sits in 22nd place with 301 career victories. When the 2007-08 NHL season got underway, Kolzig was in 28th place on the league’s wins list.

Gord’s Gold(en Goal) – Boyd Gordon notched his fifth goal of the season in the waning seconds of the second period. The goal was also the 13th of Gordon’s NHL career and his first in the last 15 games. You’d be hard-pressed to recall a bigger goal from Gordon at this level.

Given the implications of Sunday’s game and the timing of Gordon’s goal, it ranks right up there among the biggest goals of the season.

The Caps were trailing 2-1 at the time, and Washington entered the game with a record of 0-22-1 when trailing after two periods this season.

Going into Sunday’s game, the Caps were tied for third place in the NHL’s Southeast Division, one point behind Carolina and Atlanta. Washington also held two games in hand on both the Hurricanes and the Thrashers.

As the old saw goes, games in hand are useless unless you win them. With both Carolina and Atlanta idle on Sunday, the Caps made maximum use of a game in hand on Sunday with a win. Gordon’s goal had a lot to do with those two points.

Record Breaker – Sunday’s game-winner in overtime was the third of its kind for Caps defenseman Mike Green this season. With three career game-winners in overtime, he has more than any other defenseman in Caps history. Calle Johansson had two overtime game-winners during the course of his 983 games in a Capitals sweater.

Green has all three of his overtime goals in 2007-08, a single-season franchise record for the most overtime game-winners in franchise history.

Washington has defeated the Rangers twice in overtime at Verizon Center this season, with Green supplying the game-winner in both. His other overtime strike came in Montreal on Jan. 5.

The Caps have won six games in overtime this season, matching the franchise record for most victories in overtime in a single season.

Green’s goal was his 15th of the season and his first in 11 games. He leads all NHL defensemen in that category.

Eight Update – Alex Ovechkin notched his 47th goal of the season on Sunday in Washington’s 57th game of the campaign. Last season, Ovechkin totaled 46 goals in 82 games. With three points on the day, Ovechkin regained sole possession of the NHL scoring lead with 76 points.

Ovechkin’s first period goal came on the power play, and it was his first power play tally since Jan. 21 at Pittsburgh. Since scoring that power play goal against the Pens, Ovechkin had netted nine straight even-strength strikes, the longest run of goals without a power play goal in his career.

With 17 power play goals on the season, Ovechkin leads the NHL in that category and is just five shy of Peter Bondra’s single-season franchise best of 22, set in 2000-01.

Special Delivery – Washington’s special teams performance accounted for the difference in Sunday’s game. The Caps scored the game’s first goal and the ultimate game-winner on the power play, and were 2-for-3 with the extra man on the afternoon. The two power play goals ended an 0-for-18 extra-man skid over the last six games.

The Caps successfully snuffed all six New York power plays on the afternoon. Washington penalty killers have been successful in all 11 of their missions in the team’s last two games.

RPM – Here’s a classic Ron Weber note for you. The longtime Caps radio play-by-play man noted recently that the Caps are a third of a century old as of Saturday. Washington played its first-ever game on Oct. 9, 1974 against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. As of Saturday, the Caps are 33 and one-third years old.

Sixty-Eight Eighty-Sixed – Ex-Cap Jaromir Jagr has fallen on hard times this season (tissue, please). The Caps held Jagr off the scoresheet on Sunday and he is now without a goal in nine straight and without a point in seven straight games.  The pointless streak is Jagr’s longest since he joined the Rangers in Jan. 2004.

Jagr is on pace to record just 21 goals and 65 points this season. The only time in Jagr’s NHL career that he netted fewer than 30 goals in a season was his rookie year of 1990-91. The only time he has had fewer than 65 points was also in 1990-91 when he registered 57.

No Shutout For You – Rangers backup goaltender Steve Valiquette came into today’s game having authored shutouts in each of his last two starts, both against the Philadelphia Flyers. Valiquette stopped all 31 shots he saw on Saturday in Philly to lead the Rangers to a 2-0 win over their Atlantic Division rivals. He also whitewashed the Flyers in Philadelphia on Jan. 31.

With New York off for the next five days, it seemed an odd spot to give Valiquette his ninth start in the Rangers’ 59 games this season, but that’s what New York coach Tom Renney did.

Valiquette was vying to become the first ever Rangers goaltender to record three consecutive shutouts, but Ovechkin ended that bid just 2:28 into the first period of Sunday’s game.

Things That Make You Go, “Hmmm.” –
Rangers agitator Ryan Hollweg went into Sunday’s game with an average of just 8:44 per contest in ice time. He ranked 13th among all New York forwards with as many as 25 games played this season in that department.

Hollweg came into Sunday’s game with a minus-7 defensive rating, third worst on the team. So we found it a bit curious that Hollweg was out on the ice in the waning seconds of the second period in a one-goal game when Gordon authored his tying goal. Ovechkin and Alexander Semin set up that goal, for what it’s worth.

We found it even more curious that Hollweg would be out on the ice in the final minute of a tie game while the Caps had Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Viktor Kozlov, Green and Tom Poti out on the ice. Hollweg ended up tripping Green with 34 seconds left in regulation, an infraction that led to Washington’s game-winner on the power play just 23 seconds into overtime.

For what it’s worth, fellow agitator Sean Avery was out on the ice in both instances, too. Maybe Rangers coach Tom Renney was opting for intimidation over defense.  Whatever the case, it didn’t work.

On This Date – Ex-Cap Kip Miller netted the first goal of his NHL career on this day in 1991. Miller was playing for the Quebec Nordiques in those days, skating in a game against the Boston Bruins.

Down on the Farm – The Hershey Bears notched a huge 5-3 win over the Baby Pens in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night, pulling to within a point of the second place Pens in the AHL’s East Division in the process. Chris Bourque scored twice and added an assist, Andrew Gordon recorded a second straight three-point (one goal, two assists) game,

Hershey made a clean sweep of the weekend’s action with a 6-4 win over the Worcester Sharks at Giant Center on Sunday. Joe Motzko and Jay Beagle led the way with a pair of goals each to support Machesney’s 26-save performance in the Hershey cage. Scott Barney also scored forr the Bears and Ben Clymer added a late empty-netter.

Defenseman Sami Lepisto had another strong game, recording three assists and a plus-2. He now has two goals and 29 points and is plus-25 in just 37 games.  Lepisto’s blueline partner Josef Boumedienne has two goals and 19 points and is plus-8 in 28 games. Boumedienne now has a 10-game scoring streak (one goal, 13 assists) in the works.

Hershey gained sole possession of second place in the AHL's East DIvision, nine points behind Philadelphia.

The ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays suffered a 4-2 home ice setback at the hands of the league’s top team – the Texas Wildcatters – on Saturday night. Travis Morin and Pierre-Luc O’Brien scored for South Carolina in a losing cause.

The Stingrays took down the Wheeling Nailers by a 3-1 score at North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, gaining sole possession of second place in the ECHL’s South Division in the process. Morin, Marty Guerin and Matt Scherer supplied the offense to make a winner of goaltender Josh Johnson. Johnson made 31 saves.

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