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Coyotes at Capitals In-Game Blog: 11-21-2011


Pregame Preview:

The Caps return to the Verizon Center tonight to begin a three-game homestand against the Phoenix Coyotes. Since starting out the season red hot with a 7-0 record, Washington has gone 3-7-1 since and are currently on a four game losing streak. In the last three games, the Caps have been anemic on offense and defense and were outscored 14-3, including a 7-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is continuing to alter the lineup, this time recalling defenseman Dmitry Orlov from Hershey to make his NHL debut. The addition of the 20-year old to the roster is in the hope of improving a team who has given up almost five times as many goals as they have scored in the past six days.

The Coyotes, however, are hot as of late, posting a record 6-2-1 in their last nine contests to put them at 10-5-3 on the season. They currently trail San Jose by two points for the Pacific division lead.

Boyd Gordon makes his return to D.C. after signing with the Coyotes as a free agent this past July. In 60 games during the 2010-2011 season, Gordon posted 9 points and averaged just over 13 minutes on the ice per game as a Capital. In 18 games this season, he already matched last season’s point total and averages over 16 minutes of ice time per game.

The Caps lead the all-time series against the Phoenix franchise with a record of 28-25-12-1. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rangers at Capitals In-Game Blog: 01-24-2011


Pregame Preview:

What should not to be lost in the midst of Alex Ovechkin’s 10th career hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night is the performance of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. The rookie, who started and won the last two games in place of injured Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, has been very impressive, only allowing one goal in each contest and making acrobatic saves when needed. It will be very interesting to see how he performs against a Rangers team that ranks much higher in the Eastern Conference than the Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

The Capitals, who are accustomed to being in the upper echelon of the league in offense, rank 14th in the league in goals forced and are hoping Ovechkin’s hat trick will jump-start an offensive resurgence for an otherwise slow season for the two-time NHL MVP.

Nicklas Backstrom, who has also been in an offensive slump as of late, hopes his goal against the Islanders on Thursday night, his first in his previous 22 games played, will return him to regular form. With 33 games left, he is currently 21 goals shy of his total from last season.

1st Period Overview:

The Capitals had plenty of scoring chances early on in the period such as Jay Beagle’s decision to skate wide left and not shooting instead of crashing the net. Through the first half of the period, both teams combined for only two shots.

To no one’s surprise, Sean Avery exchanged words with Mike Knuble behind the Capitals net around the eight minute mark. There was nothing to come of it but it will be interesting to see if Matt Hendricks or D.J. King take issue with Avery as the night goes on.

Avery and Beagle also exchanged words as the period ended and both teams were leaving the ice.

Both teams had one power play opportunity and were obviously unable to score on both chances. This game has been all defense so far.

Faceoffs Won: NYR – 7 WAS – 11
Hits: NYR – 9 WAS – 12
Shots on Goal: NYR – 7 WAS – 5
Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 0

2nd Period Overview:

Matt Hendricks notched his 7th goal of the season by tapping in the assist from Marcus Johansson and Scott Hannan over Martin Biron’s right shoulder. 1-0 Caps after 1:27 into the second period.

Both teams are more aggressive crashing the net this period with Holtby seeing most of the action early on. The Caps offense turned up the heat as the period went on but appeared very indecisive with the puck at time, especially during their second power play of the game in the 15th minute.

The Capitals announced tonight’s game as the 87th consecutive sellout.

Faceoffs Won: NYR – 6 WAS – 9
Hits: NYR – 7 WAS – 10
Shots on Goal: NYR – 11 WAS – 6
Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 1

3rd Period Overview:

The refs are not making themselves popular with the Verizon Center crowd tonight. First, a couple of questionable penalties were not called on the Rangers early on in the game. Then, Ovechkin was called for a two-minute diving penalty when it appeared he was held, eliciting a barrage of boos from the home crowd. After that, the fans didn’t let up on the refs after one official unintentionally stopped the progress of a Capital trying to move the puck.

With 6:41 left, the Rangers got on the scoreboard with Marian Gaborik’s 16th goal of the season. The goal was under review as it had touched Gaborik’s glove before entering the net. When it was ruled a goal, the call endeared the refs to the fans even less.

Faceoffs Won: NYR – 8 WAS – 11
Hits: NYR – 6 WAS – 7
Shots on Goal: NYR – 10 WAS – 6
Goals: NYR – 1 WAS – 0

Overtime Overview:

Faceoffs Won: NYR – 3 WAS – 1
Hits: NYR – 1 WAS – 1
Shots on Goal: NYR – 1 WAS – 6
Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 0

Shooutout Overview:

- Shootout attempt by Alex Ovechkin SAVED by Martin Biron
- Shootout GOAL scored by Wojtek Wolski on Braden Holtby
- Shootout GOAL scored by Matt Hendricks on Martin Biron
- Shootout GOAL scored by Mats Zuccarello on Braden Holtby
- Shootout GOAL scored by Nicklas Backstrom on Martin Biron
- Shootout attempt by Brian Boyle MISSES wide of net
- Shootout attempt by Marcus Johansson SAVED by Martin Biron
- Shootout GOAL scored by Artem Anisimov on Braden Holtby

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Caps Recap 1/18/10


What a busy week for the Caps; they played four games and went 3-1-0 this past week. Washington has now scored 4 or more goals in it’s last seven straight games and are 6-1-0 during that stretch. This week saw the re-emergence of Jose Theodore, as Michal Neuvirth’s confidence seems to have left him. The Caps have also regained their position as #1 atop the Eastern Conference, ahead of New Jersey by 1-point. The Caps are having arguably their best season, and this is the latest in the season that the Caps have ever held the top spot in the Conference. Read the rest of this entry »

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Flyers @ Capitals: 01-17-2010


The Flyers come to downtown D.C. today having won four of its last five games, with their only loss in that span coming as a 4-0 shutout on Thursday against the team the Capitals defeated handily the night after to the tune of 6-1, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Today’s matchup will mark the fourth and final contest between these two teams during the regular season. In the previous three contest, the Capitals have scored 17 points, which was padded due to an 8-2 Capitals victory in Wachovia Center on Dec. 5th.

The Caps have won 10 out of the last 15 contest against the Flyers since the 2006-2007 season began.

1st Period Overview:

Despite thousands of empty seats, presumably due to the NFL’s Divisional playoff games, the energy filling the Verizon Center matches that of a full house.

The period can be summed up as a chess match for both teams, with each team going tit-for-tat with two goals apiece. The Flyers struck first with a Jeff Carter goal but the Capitals retaliated with a quick goal from former Flyer Mike Knuble. The chess match continued when Flyers left winger James Van Riemsdyk put the Flyers up 2-1. That lead didn’t last long when Brooks Laich scored his 12th goal of the season and evened the contest out at 2-2 with 6:32 left in the opening period.

It has been a very entertaining matchup so far in a game featuring two local rivals. Considering the fans of both teams feeding off of each other’s energy, it only looks to become more enticing as the day goes on.

Goals: PHI – 2 WAS – 2
Shots: PHI – 9 WAS – 8
Blocked Shots: PHI – 9 WAS – 6
Faceoffs Won: PHI – 10 – WAS – 11

2nd Period Overview:

Defense was the name of the game in the second period, with the only score coming seven minutes in.

Both the Capitals and the Flyers had just returned their fifth men on the ice following a 4-on-4 stretch with Washington’s Tyler Sloan and Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell in their respective penalty boxes when Jeff Carter gave the Caps a 5-on-4 advantage by holding Sloan shortly after he left the box. Just seven seconds after Carter’s penalty, Alexander Semin gave the Caps a 3-2 lead with his 20th goal on the year.

The Capitals tightened up their defense, helping keep traffic away from Jose Theodore when he wasn’t making clutch saves. Washington was able to clear the puck at the right times and also increased their physicality, making their presence known to the Flyers on their own as opposed to just responding to the hits that Philadelphia was giving them.

Goals: PHI – 0 WAS – 1
Shots: PHI – 12 WAS – 9
Blocked Shots: PHI – 6 WAS – 6
Faceoffs Won: PHI – 10 – WAS – 13

3rd Period Overview (most of it):

Brooks Laich scored his second goal of the night on a beautiful backhanded shot to give the Caps a 4-2 lead 4:56 into the final period, giving the team much-needed momentum to close out the Flyers.

The score remains 4-2 with five minutes remaining.

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Caps Recap 10/5/09


It’s Monday, it’s a new Hockey season, that means it’s time to break out the Caps Recap!

The Caps had two games last week facing the Northeast Division Champion Boston Bruins in their season opener followed up by the familiar face of Ron Wilson and his Toronto Maple Leafs in their home opener. The Caps came out of the gate swinging scoring 10 goals in their first two games. Alex Ovechkin having three goals in his first two games is hardly a surprise, but for him to be tied with Brooks Laich certainly may raise some eyebrows.

The race for the cup starts here, so lets get to some recapping! Read the rest of this entry »

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Maple Leafs @ Washington Capitals 10/03/09


1st period Overview:

The Capitals opened up the season against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night where they left off the 2008-2009 season with a 4-1 victory. Their fire didn’t stop during their home opener tonight against the Maple Leafs as reigning back-to-back NHL MVP Alexander Ovechkin ignited the raucous Verizon Center crowd with his third goal of the season just 1:17 into the contest. Chants of MVP quickly ensued from the home fans. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cujo Trumps Ovechkin


In an evening that Alexander Ovechkin had prophesized that he would score four goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he came up three short and was outshone by Curtis Joseph. 

On the strength of a magnificent performance from Cujo, the Leafs handed the Washington Capitals a 3-2 defeat. The veteran netminder was forced into action late in the game, and for overtime. He stopped nine shots, and earned the game’s first star, despite less than six minutes of work. 

Martin Gerber started the game for the Leafs and played 59:04 of it, but was then ejected with less than a minute to go. There was a goal-mouth scramble and Brooks Laich managed to slap the puck into the net, and Gerber along with it, to even the game at 2-2. Gerber went ballistic and not only grabbed referee Mike Leggo, but shot a puck in his direction as well. 

Joseph may have come into the game cold, but he was on fire. His first save was on a wide open Ovechkin with 12 seconds to go, to keep the game tied and force the extra period. The 41-year-old then stopped eight shots in overtime, and managed to stymie Nicholas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and finally Ovechkin in the shootout. 

At times, the game was dull, but it was very evenly contested for most of the night. The Leafs came out quickly and dominated the first five minutes of play, only to have Washington control most of the rest of the first period. The shots finished up 10-6 in favor of the Capitals, and the Leafs had a stretch of fourteen minutes where they did not get a shot at Jose Theodore. Perhaps the only real highlight of the period was a textbook bodycheck from Ovechkin on Matt Stajan.

The second period was a little more entertaining. Leaf Rookie Phil Oreskovic scored the game’s first goal, and the first of his NHL career at 9:04 of the second. The big defenseman beat Theodore with a shot from the point that appeared to bounce off of a Caps player in front of the net. 

Ovechkin evened the score at 1-1 in the final minute of the period. After crossing over to his off-wing in the neutral ice, the Russian superstar took a pass from Backstrom as he came around the right side. He blew past Luke Schenn and cut in on Gerber on his forehand – he pulled the puck across the front of the Leafs goalie, and backhanded his league-leading 51st goal of the season into the open net. 

The score stayed tied until Pavel Kubina scored a power-play goal with just over two minutes to go in the game. It looked as though it might hold up as the game winner, but for the second Caps / Leafs game in a row, Washington managed to send the game into overtime with a goal in the final minute of regulation. Despite the subsequent Gerber meltdown, and a review of the play, the goal stood and Laich had his 19th goal of the season.

With Joseph stopping all three penalty shots, the goal from Leaf Jeff Hamilton on the first shot of the shootout, proved to be the game winner. The Leafs’ victory gave them 75 points on the season – eight points back of the Montreal Canadiens and the final playoff spot, with just eight games remaining.

With the point, the Capitals sit comfortably in second in the Eastern Conference with 97 points, tied with the New Jersey Devils. The extra point would have been valuable, and obviously moved the Caps past the Devils, who now have two games in-hand. Washington head back home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Verizon Center on Friday night.

 

Notes:

The assist on Ovechkin’s goal was Backstrom’s 58th – good enough for fourth overall in the NHL – behind only Evgeni Malkin (72), Sidney Crosby (67), and Pavel Datsyuk (59).

Ovechkin was credited with four bodychecks in the game, that was as close to the four goals that he had ‘promised’ to score. His best hit of the night was on Leaf tough guy Brad May. 

Oreskovic was the SIXTH Toronto Maple Leaf to score their first NHL goal in 2008/2009 – Luke Schenn, John Mitchell, Nikolai Kulemin, Tim Stapleton, and Jonas Frogren are the other five.

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Random Thoughts From Verizon – 03/05/2009


The crowd at the Verizon Center is spread out and more docile then normal tonight. Some might blame this on the fact that the Capitals have been outscored 12-3 in their last two games. I’m not some. I’ll blame tonight’s turnout and calmness on the fact that it’s a weeknight. Oh, and of course the small fact that that the Leafs are in town. (Sorry Mark Solway).

Here are a few thoughts from tonight’s festivities to this point…

Alexander Ovechkin isn’t in uniform tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead the NHL’s leading goal scorer is wearing a suit. I saw him get off the elevator on the sixth-level of the Verizon Center just before the National Anthem. He’s likely going to take the majority of the game in from General Manger George McPhee’s box.

The Capitals and Flyers are scoreless midway through the second period. The game’s most intense moment to this point came at the 8:27 mark of the opening period, when Ben Ondrus and Matt Bradley dropped the gloves for a center-ice fight. No huge punches were landed during the bout, but if you were to go to the cards Bradley would have probably won narrowly by decision.

Toronto defenseman Jeff Finger was helped off the ice early on in the second-period. Finger took an errant John Erskine pass to the face before collapsing to the ice. There was a brief stoppage in the game while the Verizon cleanup crew tried to clean the blood off the ice from where Finger had fallen down. Tonight marked the defenseman’s 49th game of the season.

The Washington Capitals entered Thursday night’s game without the services of their best player. Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, missed the game after taking a puck to the foot during practice on Wednesday.

The Capitals knew that they weren’t going to have Ovechkin’s offensive wizardry and theatrics before the game began. The team did not know, however, that it would also be without its most stout defender – Tom Poti – who re-aggravated a groin injury and skated off the ice less then 10 seconds into the game.

Ovechkin watched the game from the General Manager’s suite. He couldn’t have liked what he saw, a 2-1 loss at the hands of a Toronto Maple Leafs club that entered the night ranked 11th out of 15 Eastern Conference teams.

“It was tough being out there without those guys,” said right wing Eric Fehr, who was one of several Capitals who spent most of the evening out of position. “We know what kind of players both of them are, but you’ve got to try to not miss a beat.”

That’s easier said then done. Ovechkin and Poti are Washington’s only players at their positions who log more than 20-minutes of ice time a game.

Being out-numbered didn’t keep the Capitals from playing a more sound game on Thursday than the team had in its previous two outings, though.

Coming off of back-to-back losses in which Washington had been outscored 12-3, the Capitals were able to keep Toronto off the board for more than 46 minutes. The problem for the gentleman in red was that they weren’t able to light the lamp until the game’s final minutes.

“It seemed like we had our chances,” said 23-year-old defenseman Jeff Schultz. “It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t finish.”

Not until it was too late, anyways.

Alexander Semin gave Washington it’s only siren-sounder when he beat Martin Gerber with only 39 seconds remaining. Semin’s 27th goal of the season extended his goal-streak to five games. Nicklas Backstrom registered his 52nd assist on the even-strength strike.

The goal cut Toronto’s two-goal advantage in half and quieted an outbreak of late-game boos from the 18,277 on-hand at the Verizon Center. But it proved trivial in the end.

The Capitals are now 0-3 in the month of March. Washington will get two days off to think about its recent struggles before it welcomes the Pittsburgh Penguins for a nationally-televised meeting on Sunday afternoon.

When he met with the media this evening, Ovechkin wasn’t yet sure about his status for Sunday.

“We’ll have to see,” Ovechkin said when asked if he was going to be ready to help his teammates try to sweep the Penguins in the season series. Then he paused for a moment and cracked a smile as he added one final word to his answer. “Probably,” he said.

There isn’t a team in the NHL Ovechkin likes playing – and performing well – against than Pittsburgh. The last time the two teams met, almost two weeks ago in DC, Ovechkin and fellow superstar Sidney Crosby got tangled up in front of the Washington bench while each of the player’s was skating off the ice at the end of their shifts.

Because it’s the Penguins, you can expect to see Ovechkin on the ice this weekend. He’ll be doing his best to irritate Crosby, and to score his 47th-goal of the season. I’d be surprised to see Poti back in the lineup, though.

“Sunday is going to be big for us,” Fehr said. “We’re struggling right now but this is something that every team is going to go through during the season. We’ve got to find a way to break out of this.”

Getting Ovechkin back out of a suit and back on the ice would be a step in the right direction.

-gp

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