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Postgame Notebook, 9-28

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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It Ain’t Over – Daniel Briere’s second goal of the game gave Philadelphia a 4-1 lead with 5:43 remaining in the second period of Friday night’s preseason game between the Flyers and the Caps at Verizon Center. Thirty-seven seconds later, Alex Ovechkin pulled the Caps within two with a trademark goal coming down the left side on the rush.

Simon Gagne’s goal at 4:01 of the third restored the Flyers’ three-goal lead, but it did not cause the Caps to go gently into that good night. Within three minutes, Matt Pettinger converted a terrific feed from Boyd Gordon to pull the Caps within a pair. Twenty-three seconds after that, Ovechkin made a perfect pass to Viktor Kozlov in the slot. Kozlov ripped it home to pull the Caps within a goal.

It was a game again.

Ovechkin evened it at 5-5 with his second goal of the game at 17:11 of the third, and then he set up Tomas Fleischmann for the game-winner 61 seconds later. The Caps then pinned Philly in its own end for the final seconds of the game, making it impossible for the team to remove goaltender Antero Niittymaki for an extra skater.

Dave Steckel – who had another strong game – put the coda on the proceedings with his second goal of the night, an empty-netter at 1:58. The Caps had finished with a flourish, netting five unanswered goals in a span of 13:15 in the third period.

It's only preseason, but it's comforting to know that this Caps team has the firepower to come back from a three-goal third period hole.

Fired Up? – It may have been coincidence, but Ovechkin seemed to get revved up by a cheesy boarding call that came at 12:13 of the second period. That call, and a subsequent questionable holding call on Chris Clark led to Briere’s second goal, the one that gave Philly a 4-1 lead.

Forty-one seconds after he exited the penalty box for the boarding infraction, Ovechkin scored his first goal. He added another and two assists. Ovechkin collected all four of his points in a span of 23:18, all after the boarding call.

Stingy With the Shots – For the third time in the last four games, Washington limited its opponent to 20 or fewer shots on goal. The Flyers had just 19 shots on goal in Friday’s 7-5 loss to the Flyers.

Big When It Mattered Most – There was a definite sense in the building during the third period that the Caps were on the comeback horse and that they could muster enough of a late charge to win this game. But it took a pair of string saves from goaltender Olie Kolzig in the third period to help seal the deal.

Less than two minutes after Kozlov’s goal pulled the Caps within one of the Flyers, Kolzig made a terrific pad save on Gagne, who had skated in on a semi-breakaway. Kolzig also stopped the rebound. Those stops kept the Caps close and allowed the home team to retain its momentum at a crucial point in the game.

Scoresh[ee]t – Media types around the league have been less than impressed (being kind here) with the NHL’s seemingly pointless decision to “fix” the official game scoresheets. Apparently, the new system is not without its glitches, either.

For the second night in a row, we were told that computer issues prevented a full scoresheet with full stats at game’s end, or at the end of periods for that matter. If the league were to go back to the same scoresheet from the last two seasons with the same data, no one I know would complain about it.

Numbers Madness – This “glitch” likely relates to the one noted above. If you take the totals from the five “official” individual games prior to tonight’s, and you add up the special teams totals of those five games, the Capitals went into Friday’s game 33-for-36 in penalty killing during the preseason to date and 5-for-39 on the power play.

However, if you looked at the league’s official stats package prior to Friday night’s game, it would have you believe that the Caps are 31-for-35 on the penalty kill and 5-for-36 on the power play. It’s preseason for all of us, but let’s hope the league can get its statistical house in order before opening night.

I wonder who’s going to be tracking this stuff in London tomorrow and Sunday for the Ducks-Kings games.

No Shows – Not a single member of the Philadelphia hockey media was in the press box at Verizon Center on Friday. Very few Philly fans were spotted in the stands, too.  Probably stayed home to watch the Phillies.

The Kid is Alright – Alexander Semin sustained an injury midway through the second period when he got tangled up with a Flyer behind the Philadelphia net. He returned briefly in the second period, but did not skate in the third. His injury is not serious, and is not expected to keep him out of the lineup, according to a team spokesperson.
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