Postgame Notebook, 10-29
Including a 5-1 win over the Leafs at Verizon Center on Mar. 16, the Caps have now outscored Toronto 12-1 in the last two meetings between the two teams.
Multiple-Point Men – A six-pack of players recorded multiple-point games in Monday’s win. Matt Bradley (goal, two assists) and Michael Nylander (three assists) led the way with three points. Alex Ovechkin (two goals), Boyd Gordon (goal, assist), Matt Pettinger (goal, assist) and Viktor Kozlov (two assists) each had a pair of points.
For Bradley, the three points represents a single-game career high. He has had two points in a game on a dozen occasions, most recently on Dec. 6, 2006 vs. Ottawa. For Nylander, it was his second three-assist game in a Caps uniform. The first was on Nov. 27, 2002 in a 4-2 win over Calgary. That game was less than a month after he was obtained in a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. For Ovechkin, it was his first multiple-goal game in a dozen contests. His last one came on Apr. 4 at Atlanta.
Gordon notched two points in a game for the seventh time and Pettinger for the 10th time in their respective NHL careers.
First Strike – Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz joined center David Steckel as the second member of the Capitals to record his first NHL goal this season. Steckel’s first marker came in Washington’s previous win, last Wednesday’s 5-3 triumph over Tampa Bay at Verizon Center. Both Schultz and Steckel were members of the 2006 Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears.
Schultz netted his first NHL goal in his 44th NHL contest. His first AHL goal came in his first AHL game, a Calder Cup playoff contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on May 7, 2006.
Zero Heroes – In addition to Ovechkin’s pair of goals, five different Caps netted their first goals of the season on Monday night. Gordon, Pettinger, Schultz, Bradley and Brian Sutherby all netted their first goals of the 2007-08 season in Monday’s win.
Shots Down – The Caps came into Monday’s match allowing 34.4 shots per game in road games this season, the highest average in the league. That total was skewed by a small sample size of five road games and a 53-shot barrage Washington faced in Buffalo on Oct. 13. In allowing only 33 shots to the Leafs on Monday, that average went down.
So they’ve got that going for them. Which is nice.
Days of October – The Caps finished October with a 5-6 record, going 3-3 on the road. The last time Washington won as many as five games in the season’s first month was in 2001-02 when they posted a 5-6-1-0 mark in October. The last time the Caps recorded as many as three road victories in October was in 2002-03 when they were 3-4-1 on an eight-game October road trip.
Lettermen – With team captain Chris Clark on the sidelines for a second straight contest, the Caps had three alternate captains in the lineup on Monday. On Saturday in St. Louis, Viktor Kozlov, Alex Ovechkin and Donald Brashear wore the alternate captain’s “A.” For Monday’s tilt with Toronto, it was Ovechkin, Brashear and Brian Sutherby who sported the letters.
Long Time Coming – Back on Mar. 18 at Verizon Center, the Capitals put a 7-1 pasting on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, Washington won a total of six games prior to Monday’s win over the Leafs. Three of those victories came by two goals, and the other three came by a single goal.
Special Delivery – Special teams were problematic for Washington throughout much of the season’s first 10 games. The Caps had some good games, particularly in the panelty killing department, but came into Monday’s game ranked 22nd in power play success and 24th in shorthanded efficiency. The Caps were solid on both special teams in Monday’s win, going 5-for-5 in the penalty killing department and 2-for-5 on the power play.
Not Any More – Entering Monday night’s game against the Leafs, Caps defenseman John Erskine was the only Washington player who had recorded a career point against Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala. Erskine has recorded one assist against Toskala.
First Shot Blues – For the third straight game, Washington surrendered a goal on its opponent’s first shot on goal. Vacnouver’s Daniel Sedin scored on the Canucks’ first shot on goal of the game in Friday’s 3-2 Vancouver win over the Caps at the Verizon Center. The Blues’ Brad Boyes scored on his team’s first shot on goal of the game on Saturday when St. Louis edged the Caps 4-3.
The difference on Monday is that the Caps were already up 1-0 by the time the Leafs tallied on their first shot. Washington also regained the lead just 1:36 later.
On Monday, it was Toronto’s Alexei Ponikarovsky who netted a Toronto goal on the Leafs’ first shot of the game. Ponikarovsky also scored his first NHL goal against Washington netminder Olie Kolzig on Feb. 1, 2001.
It Shouldn’t Be That Way – In the first period, Leafs captain tripped Caps winger Bradley. Bradley had the puck on his stick at the time, and in the process of being hauled down he ended up firing the puck over the glass, thereby incurring a delay of game minor himself.
This Day in NHL History – On this date in 1980, ex-Capitals captain Dale Hunter netted his first NHL goal while playing for the Quebec Nordiques against the Vancouver Canucks.
Your Cousin Jeffrey – Toronto’s in-game entertainment is right up there with the best in the NHL. Among our favorite items: Actor Len Lesser (better known as Jerry Seinfeld’s Uncle Leo on “Seinfeld”) exhorting the crowd to chant “Go Leafs!”
Other in-game entertainment highlights included the hilarious bit from the movie “Slapshot” in which goaltender Denny Lemieux demonstrates the commission of several penalties on television. Another was a take-off on the David Letterman Top 10 lists, a list that detailed the 10 oldest players ever to play for the Leafs.
Also, Toronto does a great job of incorporating its alumni into the game experience. Ex-Leaf Danny Lewicki was shown on the scoreboard screen and received a nice ovation. Former Leaf Pat Boutette was brought in on the between periods games on the ice. And heralded Leaf Lanny McDonald was also shown on the scoreboard.
In the time before the game, Leafs TV aired a live interview with Caps GM George McPhee. Leafs TV anchor Mark Osborne, a former teammate of McPhee’s with the New York Rangers, waxed on about how McPhee was the toughest player in the league, pound-for-pound. To which McPhee replied, “I was 170 pounds, so I don’t know what that says. I was a toy goon.”
You Must Be Tripping – All five Toronto minor penalties whistled in the first two periods were tripping violations.
A Second 7-1 Southeast Spanking – Monday’s loss dropped the Leafs to 3-4-2 on home ice. The 7-1 loss was the second the Leafs have absorbed on home ice to a Southeast Division opponent this month. Carolina came in and dropped a 7-1 bomb on Toronto on Oct. 9.