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Postgame Notebook, 2-26-08

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Secondary Scoring –
All four of Washington’s Tuesday night tallies came courtesy of a newly cobbled second line of ex-Bears: Brooks Laich between Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann. Laich had a career best night with two goals and four points, and he now has career highs in both goals (13) and points (23) as well. Laich has four goals and six points in his last four games.

Each of the three young forwards on the line was plus-4 on the night, and Fleischmann picked up a pair of assists. Fleischmann now has two goals and six points in his last six games.

Fehr scored his first goal of the season, a goal-scorer’s goal that made the water bottle jump. Fehr’s goal followed a great individual effort in which he controlled the puck in the corner and along the wall before passing off to defenseman Tom Poti and taking Poti’s return feed. After Fehr’s goal, one veteran press observer noted that there were likely only two other Capitals that could have scored on that shot from that spot: Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.

The Caps acquired veteran pivot Sergei Fedorov from Columbus ostensibly to be their second line pivot, but it will be hard for Caps coach Bruce Boudreau to break up the trio of Laich, Fleishmann and Fehr after their performance on Tuesday.

Boudreau had put his three best offensive forwards – Ovechkin, Semin and Nicklas Backstrom – on the same line against Minnesota, but the Wild was able to neutralize that trio. Ovechkin is without a goal in six straight games now, matching the longest such stretch of his career.

Long Time Coming –
Tuesday’s win was Washington’s first that came by a margin of two or more goals since the Caps forged a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center on Jan. 19. Each of Washington’s previous seven wins came by the slimmest of possible margins, a single goal.

The Capitals also lost four games by one goal during that stretch, and dropped two others by two goals after late empty-net tallies doubled what had been a one-goal deficit.

Wild Night – Tuesday’s victory over Minnesota was Washington’s first over the Wild in more than six years, since Feb. 6, 2002. The Caps’ four-goal outburst was the most they’ve ever scored against Minnesota, and it marks only the second time in the eight meetings between the two clubs that the Caps have scored as many as three goals.

29 – Tuesday’s win was the 29th of the season for Washington, matching the most the Caps have managed since 2002-03, the last time they reached the playoffs. The Capitals won 29 games in 2005-06. 

Two Away – Tuesday night’s win was the 298th of Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig’s career. The triumph was Kolzig’s 22nd of the season, matching his total from the 2007-08 campaign.

No Plus For You – Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz picked up an assist on Shaone Morrisonn’s first goal of the season in Tuesday’s game, but Schultz did not get credit for a plus-1 on the play. Schultz dumped the puck deep into the Minnesota zone where Laich collected it, then Schultz and defense partner Steve Eminger went off for a change. Laich spun off his check and fed a pass in front, but Fleischmann fanned on a one-timer attempt.

Not to worry, kids.

The puck went right to Morrisonn, who fired it past Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom. It was Morrisonn’s first goal in 76 games; his last goal came nearly a year ago on Mar. 1, 2007 at Verizon Center against the Lightning.

Morrisonn and defense partner Mike Green hopped over the boards just in time to earn a plus-1 on the goal.

Active D – All four Washington goals featured involvement from the defense, as five of the six defensemen in the lineup collected a point.

Morrisonn scored a goal, and Tom Poti, Schultz, Green and Milan Jurcina each collected an assist on the night.

Our Backstrom’s Better Than Yours – Caps center Backstrom did not find his way onto the scoresheet in Tuesday’s game, but his near-namesake – Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom – gave up two first period strikes and four on the night.

Hall of Famer in the House – Chris Bourque’s parents (his father is Hockey Hall of Famer and legendary defenseman Raymond Bourque) came in from Boston to see him play. Bourque was recalled from Hershey prior to the game, and he was very solid in 9:48 of ice time.

It was Bourque’s first taste of NHL action since Nov. 10 when he played against the Lightning in a game at Verizon Center. The 22-year-old forward has played four games with the Caps this season.

Stand Up Guy – Although still bothered by after effects of the flu that caused him to miss his first game of the season on Sunday, Caps center David Steckel made his presence felt in Tuesday’s tilt with the Wild. He won eight of his nine face-offs, but he also dropped the gloves and fought the Wild’s Aaron Voros, who had taken a run at Bourque.

The fight was Steckel’s second of the season, and it was the first of two scraps for Voros in the night. Matt Bradley went with the Wild winger nine minutes after his scrap with Steckel.

Down on the Farm – The South Carolina Stingrays put a 5-2 hurting on the Augusta Lynx at North Charleston Coliseum on Tuesday night. Chris Chaput scored twice, and Grant McNeil, Paul McIlveen and Trent Campbell also lit the lamp for the Rays. Davis Parley made 27 stops to earn the win.

The Stingrays have clinched an ECHL playoff berth. With 73 points, they occupy second place in the ECHL’s South Division.

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