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Postgame Notebook, 11-10-07

Saturday, 11.10.2007 / 11:20 PM / Features
By Mike Vogel  - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer
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Postgame Notebook, 11-10-07

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Too Much of the Top Three – For the first 20 minutes of Saturday night’s game, the Caps were able to keep the Lightning’s top three scorers – Vincent Lecavalier, Vaclav Prospal and Martin St. Louis in check. Washington limited the Lightning to a mere five shots on goal in the first period, and none of them came from Tampa Bay’s top trio.

That all changed in the second period. The Bolts outshot the Caps 24-7 over a span of 22:27 starting with the opening face-off of the second period, and they took a commanding 3-1 lead in the process. The Lightning poured 18 shots on Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig in the second period, and he stopped 17 of them. Only four of those second period shots came from Lecavalier, Prospal and St. Louis.

In the first 2:27 of the third period, the Lightning trio put four shots on Kolzig, and two of them went in. Prospal and St. Louis scored 58 seconds apart to put the Lightning in control of the contest.

Shutdown Guys Shut Down – Since the Caps acquired Milan Jurcina from Boston on Feb. 1, the Caps have faced the Lightning six times, posting a 2-2-2 record. For most of the first five of those games, the defensive duo of Shaone Morrisonn and Milan Jurcina has been assigned the duty of facing Tampa Bay’s top line, generally the one centered by Lecavalier.

The Caps were 2-1-2 in those first five games, and Morrisonn averaged 22:31 and was a plus-5 while Jurcina averaged 23:41 and was plus-4 in those games.

In Saturday’s game, the checking assignment went mostly to the tandem of Brian Pothier and Jeff Schultz. Morrisonn was minus-6 in his last four games before Saturday’s contest with the Lightning, and Jurcina had been a healthy scratch for the first time in his Washington career in Tuesday’s overtime loss at Atlanta.

Morrisonn logged just 12:37 in Saturday’s loss to the Lightning, the lowest ice time total he has ever registered in his 178 games in a Washington uniform. Jurcina skated just 12:01 against the Lightning, also his lowest figure in his 46 games since joining the Caps.

Home Sick – Washington has lost three straight home games for the first time since it dropped four straight on Verizon Center ice from Dec. 19, 2006-Jan. 1, 2007. The Caps are 2-5 on home ice this season, their worst start on home ice since they opened the 1998-99 campaign with a 1-5-2 mark in their first eight games on the MCI Center surface.

Can’t Stand Prosperity – In calendar 2007, the Capitals have won eight games by a margin of three or more goals. Six of those eight wins ended losing streaks, but Washington has been unable to put together a string of more than four consecutive wins in nearly a year, since Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2006. They are now 2-6 in games immediately following contests they’ve won by a margin of three or more goals.

Missed it by That Much –
Entering Saturday night’s game, Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin had 28 shots on goal in the month of November to lead the NHL during that span. He added half a dozen shots on goal to that total on Saturday, but also missed the net five times to raise his league-leading total of missed shots to 45 in 17 games.

Pending Saturday’s late action, Ovechkin is 14 missed shots ahead of Mike Cammalleri of the Los Angeles Kings, who had missed 31 shots heading into his team’s Saturday night tilt with Dallas. Ovechkin has more than twice as many missed shots as any of his teammates.

The third-year left winger did net his 11th goal of the season on Saturday, his 50th career goal on home ice. He entered the game tied for seventh in the league in goals.

O from the D – In Washington’s last five games prior to Saturday night, Morrisonn was the only Capital defenseman to register a point. With Tom Poti picking up a pair of helpers and Mike Green contributing a brilliant assist on Ovechkin’s goal, Caps blueliners picked up three points on Saturday.

For Poti, it was his first multiple-point game in a Caps uniform and his first in a regular season game since he recorded a goal and an assist for the Islanders against the Flyers on Apr. 7.

Bourque Reassigned – After the game, the Capitals reassigned left wing Chris Bourque to Hershey of the AHL. Bourque played in three games with Washington in his first trip to the NHL. He will re-join his Hershey teammates for their Sunday contest against the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport.

The Caps expect captain Chris Clark to return to the lineup for the team’s next game on Thursday against the Panthers in Florida. Washington is now 4-9-4 in games that Clark has missed since he was acquired from Calgary prior to the start of the 2005-06 season.

Powerless –
Tampa Bay is known for its stinginess in allowing power play opportunities, and Saturday night was no exception. Washington had but two shorthanded opportunities all night. The Lightning is tied for third in NHL with 14 major penalties, but heading into Saturday night’s contest, its 67 minor penalties were tied for fourth fewest in the NHL.

Keeping the Centers at Bay – The Caps kept Vincent Lecavalier from lighting the lamp and the only assist Brad Richards got was on Paul Ranger’s empty netter in the waning seconds of the game. Those two are among the best at what they do and have been for a few years now.

Lecavalier’s 128 goals over the last four seasons are second in the NHL only to Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk’s 149. Brad Richards’ 235 assists over the last five seasons are second only to San Jose’s Joe Thornton (314) during that timespan.

Big Names on the Bottom – Heading into Saturday night’s game with the Capitals at Verizon Center, Tampa Bay netminder ranked in the NHL’s bottom 10 (ninth from the bottom, to be exact) with a save pct. of .891. But he was in good company.

Detroit’s Dominik Hasek was on the bottom at .883 and others between he and Holmqvist included Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff (.884), Chicago’s Nikolai Khabibulin (.885) and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur (.890). By stopping 62 of 64 shots (.969) in his two previous games in goal, Holmqvist had started his move up the ladder.

Sub-Zero Chill – Two Lightning skaters – center Brad Richards and defenseman Brad Lukowich – entered Saturday’s game with identical minus-10 defensive ratings. That tied them for the second worst mark in the league, trailing only Atlanta defenseman Steve McCarthy’s minus-12. Neither Richards nor Lukowich hurt himself on Saturday. Both players finished up even.

On This Day in NHL History – On Hall of Fame weekend, it’s fitting that today is the anniversary of the first NHL goals of a pair of Hall of Famers and another who will be in the Hall shortly after his NHL career comes to a conclusion.

Bob Pulford scored his first NHL goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Chicago Blackhawks on the day in 1956. He spent 14 of his 16 NHL seasons with the Leafs, and has been a Blackhawks coach and/or executive for the last three decades.

Michel Goulet netted the first of his 548 career NHL goals (he also netted 28 in the World Hockey Association) for the Quebec Nordiques against the Rangers on this date in 1979.

Finally, future Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan scored his first NHL goal on this date exactly 20 years ago. Shanahan was skating for the New Jersey Devils at the time, and the goal came against his current team, the New York Rangers.

Shanahan scored his 632nd NHL goal on Saturday night for the Rangers against Toronto, and added the game-deciding shootout tally.
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