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The Official Site of the Washington Capitals

Postgame Notebook, 2-20-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Can’t Break a Deuce –
Coming into Wednesday’s game, New York goaltender Rick DiPietro’s 1.99 career goals against average against Washington was the second best among all active goaltenders against the Caps. Only Detroit’s Dominik Hasek (1.86) has a lower career GAA against Washington.

And coming into Wednesday’s game the Caps had not netted more than two goals in a game against the Islanders in any of the last eight meetings between the two teams, a streak that dates back to a 5-2 Washington win over the Fishermen on Mar. 6, 2006. Isles defenseman Brendan Witt played his last game as a Capital that night, Olie Kolzig notched the 250th win of his NHL career, and Garth Snow – now the Islanders’ general manager – was in goal for New York.

When the Caps found the back of the net behind DiPietro twice in 13:37 and six shots in the first period of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that trend might finally turn for Washington. But DiPietro and his mates clamped down and held the Caps off the board the rest of the way.

Josef Vasicek’s fluke goal – he bounced it in off the backside of Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig on a shot from below the goal line – enabled the Isles to push the game to overtime and they won it in the shootout.

Vasicek’s goal marked the third time in as many games that the Caps have surrendered a third-period goal to an opposing player taking a shot from below the Washington goal line. Florida’s Kamil Kreps bagged the game-winner from that spot on Friday and Tampa Bay’s Vinny Prospal scored from that location on Saturday. All three games ended with 3-2 final scores.

Washington moved past idle Atlanta into second place in the Southeast Division standings, two points behind the front-running Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina hosts Atlanta on Thursday and entertains the Caps on Saturday.

Capital Killers – The Caps have not permitted a power play goal in any of their last six games (22-for-22 on the penalty kill). That’s Washington’s longest streak without getting nicked for an extra-man tally since the lockout.

Double Nickel Down – For the second time in the last four games, the Caps lost a defenseman to injury in the first period of a game. Blueliner Jeff Schultz went off with a strained knee in the first period of Wednesday’s game. A week ago in Atlanta, Tom Poti was lost in the first frame because of a lower body injury. Poti returned to action for the first time since that game against the Thrashers on Wednesday against New York.

With Schultz on the sidelines, Mike Green again assumed a single-game career high in ice time, skating 33:59 on the night. He has logged more than 30 minutes in consecutive games and in four of his last six.

In each of the games the Caps have lost a defenseman in the first period, the game has gone to overtime and Washington has lost in the shootout.

Schultz is listed as day-to-day.

Minute Man – Heading into Wednesday night’s game, Green was averaging 27:37 per game in ice time, second in the NHL for that time period. Boston’s Dennis Wideman (27:47) leads the league in average ice time per game in the month of February. Green surpassed Wideman on that list after Wednesday.

Zero for Eight – Ovechkin is without a goal in three straight games for the first time this season, and is also without a point in three straight games for the first time this season. He fired 11 shots on Wednesday, but only one found its way to DiPietro. Four of his bids were blocked out in front and six more missed the cage altogether.

Helper for 37 –
Kolzig collected an assist on Brooks Laich’s first period power play goal. The assist was Kolzig’s first of the season and the 16th of his career. He is the Caps’ all-time leader among goaltenders in that department.

Lead Losers --
For the first time this season, Washington coughed up a two-goal lead and lost a game. The Caps gave up a two-goal advantage late in the third period on Saturday night in Tampa Bay, but came back to win.

Blackhawks Alumni Association – Upstairs in the press box during the second intermission, an impromptu meeting of former members of the Chicago Blackhawks was called to order. The three old Hawks chatted, breaking up the confab only when the third stanza was set to start. Those present at roll call: Peter Bondra, Joe Reekie and Chris Simon.

Coincidentally, each of those players also donned a Caps sweater at some point during their respective NHL careers.

Five Spot – The Islanders ran their winning streak to five in a row with Wednesday’s win. It marks the first time since December, 2003 that the Fishermen have won five straight games.

The Caps have the league’s longest drought between five-game winning streaks. Washington last won five in a row from Mar. 3-11, 2001. Washington has now gone 40 straight games without suffering successive setbacks in regulation (22-12-6), its longest such streak since it closed out the 1999-00 campaign with a 49-game run (32-9-7-1).

Fast Freddy – Islanders defenseman Freddy Meyer made his NHL debut at Verizon Center with the Flyers on Mar 6. 2004. Tonight, he played his 154th NHL game, again against the Caps at Verizon Center. With four of New York’s defensemen on the sidelines, Meyer was slotted alongside Radek Martinek and given the task of shutting down the Caps’ top line of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann.

Meyer skated 27:49 – the most he has ever logged in an NHL game – blocked five shots, recorded three hits and registered two takeaways. He was a plus-1 on the night. Coming into Wednesday’s game, he had two goals, an assist and was plus-5 in his last three games.

That’s not bad for a guy who has been claimed off waivers twice this season.

Could it Be … Satan?? – New York’s Miroslav Satan scored a second period goal against Washington on Wednesday, but that’s not big news. Satan has long been a pitchfork in the Caps’ side. His goal on Wednesday was the 28th of his career against the Capitals, fifth most among all active players in that category.

Only Mark Recchi (46), Rod Brind’Amour (38), Daniel Alfredsson (29) and Jaromir Jagr (29) have scored more goals against the Caps among all active NHL players.

Low Production – New York came into Wednesday’s game tied for the fewest goals in the NHL (148) and with the fewest (32) in the first period. The Isles got two against the Caps, and it was enough to get them to the shootout where they got another point. New York managed only two shots on goal after Josef Vasicek’s tying goal at 11:09 of the third period, a span of 13:51.

Taking the Bad With the Good –
Going into Wednesday’s game, DiPietro was tied for third in the NHL with 71 turnovers, the only goaltender in the top five in that department. The Isles netminder added a pair of giveaways to that total against the Caps.

With 12 career assists, DiPietro is tied with Hockey Hall of Famer Billy Smith for the all-time franchise lead among goaltenders. While Smith needed 680 games to amass his dozen career helpers, DiPietro has 12 assists in just 260 NHL games.

Happy Birthday – To former Caps coach Glen Hanlon, born on this day in 1957 … and to former Caps defenseman Brendan Witt, born on this day in 1975. And to former Caps defenseman Rick Green, born on this day in 1956. And finally, to Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito, born on this day in 1942.

Down on the Farm – Eric Fehr’s third-period power play goal evened the game at 2-2 and earned the Hershey Bears a point, but the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins prevailed 3-2 on Tim Brent’s goal at the 12-second mark of the extra session.

Kyle Wilson scored Hershey’s first goal, and netminder Daren Machesney made 19 stops in a losing effort. The loss bumped the Bears back to third place in the AHL’s East Division standings, one point behind second-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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