Postgame Notebook. 9-25-07
Nick at Night – In his first ever game at Verizon Center, 19-year-old Nicklas Backstrom supplied the game-winning overtime goal to give Washington a 3-2 win over Carolina. Backstrom has two goals in his four preseason games, and both have come against Carolina.
Despite netting the deciding goal in front of the home crowd, Backstrom holds himself to a higher standard.
“It was very fun to score in overtime but it was the only right thing I do today,” says Backstrom. “But I’m glad the team won, that’s the most important.”
Get Me Re-Write – For the third time in four preseason games, Washington gained a two-goal lead only to watch it evaporate. This time, the Caps were able to close the deal.
Blank No More – Carolina goaltender Cam Ward entered the game with a spotless preseason record, but he was nicked for a Mike Green goal just over five minutes into Tuesday night’s contest.
Ward faced only eight shots in 30:30 of work against Washington, stopping seven. Michael Leighton came on in relief midway through the second period, and he faced 18 shots in his 33:02 between the pipes. Leighton stopped 16 of 18.
The Killers – Washington killed off all six Carolina power play chances on Tuesday. The Caps are now 28-for-31 (90.3%) on the penalty kill during the preseason, The Caps are 20-for-21 (95.3%) on the penalty kill in their last three games.
Green Streak – Green had a two-point night, extending his preseason scoring streak to four games (two goals, four assists). With two goals in the four preseason games to date, Green has equaled his total from 70 NHL games last season. His six preseason points represent half of the dozen he totaled during the 2006-07 regular season.
Free Agent Firsts – Summertime free agent acquisitions Tom Poti and Viktor Kozlov made their debut in a Caps sweater here on Tuesday. Poti picked up an assist and led all Caps with 27:21 in ice time. Kozlov scored a power play goal. The Caps’ other significant free agent acquisition, center Michael Nylander, played a previous stint in a Caps uniform a few seasons back.
First Blood – Washington has scored the first goal in all four of its 2007 preseason games.
Money’s Worth – Brooks Laich skated 10:06 in Tuesday’s game, but he got his money’s worth and made his presence felt. Laich had three shots on goal, was credited with three hits (tied with Steve Eminger for the team lead on the night), blocked a shot and won five of his six face-offs (83%).
Back on the Blueline – Tuesday night marked the first preseason action for Eminger. A minor lower body ailment kept him out of preseason activity, although he has been skating and practicing since virtually the start of camp. He did not look rusty against Carolina.
“He looks fine,” says Hanlon. “I didn’t see that he was in any trouble and that [Carolina] is a quick team, a good hockey team. They were missing some key players, but they’re a good hockey team and Stevie handled it well.”
Paired with Shaone Morrisonn, Eminger skated 17:32 and was a plus-1 defensively.
Lettermen – With Caps captain Chris Clark sitting this one out, Washington had three players wearing the alternate captain’s “A” on their sweaters. Defenseman Brian Pothier and forwards Alex Ovechkin and Matt Pettinger were the lettermen for Tuesday’s tilt with the Hurricanes.
In the House – New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Brent Sutter were in attendance here on Tuesday night. Sutter’s son Brandon skated 8:52 for the Hurricanes in the game against the Caps.
Reunited – Centers Boyd Gordon and Dave Steckel were dominant on a checking line for the 2006 Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears during that team’s championship run. Along with Matt Pettinger, Gordon and Steckel formed a formidable checking line Tuesday against the Canes.
“They played together for a long time and they do a lot of things naturally,” says Hanlon of the Gordon-Steckel duo. “They sort of read off each other. Sometimes when things are all going goofy on turnovers and running amuck, it’s nice to put them on the ice.”
Steckel was 12-for-17 (71%) in the face-off circle on Tuesday. He is 35-for-54 (65%) on the draw in his three preseason games.
One More for the Road – Washington closes out its preseason road schedule with a visit to Philadelphia tomorrow. After they return from the City of Brotherly Love, the Caps will be home for a week before they depart for Atlanta to open the 2007-08 regular season against the Thrashers on Oct. 5.