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Postgame Notebook, 12-15-07

Sunday, 12.16.2007 / 4:02 AM / Features
By Mike Vogel  - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer
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Postgame Notebook, 12-15-07
Saturday Night Johnny – Brent Johnson’s win over the Lightning was his second straight and his second straight in a Saturday night start. Although Johnson is 2-3 in his Saturday night outings this season, he has earned 29 of his 95 career victories in Saturday night games.

Johnson is now 29-14-2 with four shutouts, a 2.36 goals against average and a .915 save pct. lifetime on Saturday nights. His only shutout as a Capital came on a Saturday night, on Apr. 1, 2006 in a 1-0 Washington win at Ottawa.

He is 66-70-20 lifetime with nine shutouts, a 2.69 goals against average and an .898 save pct. on the other six days of the week combined.

Rewards Program –
Before Saturday night’s game with the Lightning, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau was remarking about how well his checking unit of Dave Steckel, Quintin Laing and Matt Bradley has been playing, and how deserving they were of some reward for their efforts.

“I wish they’d score a couple because they deserve to score a couple,” said Boudreau. “They work so hard, they have puck possession so much and yet they’re not getting rewarded for it. They’re certainly good at being an energy line.”

They didn’t get a couple, but they got one. Steckel netted his second of the season just eight seconds into the second period, a goal that gave Washington a 2-1 lead at the time. Steckel’s line was instrumental in Washington’s win, pinning the Lighting in its own end for long stretches of time on more than one occasion.

Steckel’s ice time (16:45) was his third highest total in his 33 games this season and the most he has logged since skating 20:04 in Ottawa on Nov. 8. Laing logged 15:11 against the Lightning, the most he has skated in any game with the Caps since his Nov. 30 recall from AHL Hershey. Bradley’s 11:21 on Saturday is his second highest ice time total this season. 

Comeback Kids – Tonight marked Washington’s third consecutive victory in which it came from behind. It was also Washington’s third straight win in which it gave up the game’s first goal, this after going 0-12-2 in the previous 14 games in which it surrendered the first goal of the contest. Saturday’s win over the Lightning marked the first time the Caps have surrendered the game’s first goal and come back to win in a road game since Oct. 8.

Scoring Spread – Washington has won four of its last five games, and one of the main reasons for its success during that span is the depth of contributions from the entire roster. Twenty different Capitals have registered at least a point during those five games.

Lightning Lamp-Lighter –
Steckel’s first career NHL goal came against the Lightning on Oct. 24 at Verizon Center. That goal came against Tampa Bay netminder Marc Denis. Tonight’s tally – Steckel’s second career NHL goal – came against the Lightning’s Johan Holmqvist. The only preseason goal Steckel has scored in an NHL uniform also came against the Lightning, at St. Pete Times Forum on Sept. 22.

Quick Strike –
Steckel’s goal was the fastest at the start of a period by any Capital this season. The last time a Cap scored a quicker goal at the start of a period was exactly one year ago tonight when Alex Ovechkin completed a hat trick with a goal six seconds into overtime in Washington’s 3-2 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta.

Pothier Power – Brian Pothier’s third period power play goal was his first extra man tally since Mar. 3, 2007 in a 6-2 loss to the Islanders at Verizon Center.

Pothier’s goal against the Lightning proved to be the game-winner. It is Pothier’s first game-winning goal in the NHL since Jan. 17, 2004 when he scored the game’s first goal while with the Ottawa Senators in a 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins.

Flash and Dash –
Tomas Fleischmann was re-inserted into the lineup on Saturday after being a healthy scratch on Friday night. He netted Washington’s first goal of the game. It was Fleischmann’s fifth goal of the season, a career high. Fleischmann added an assist on Pothier’s game-winner.

Fleischmann has made a career of lighting up the Lightning. Tonight’s tally was his first goal in 14 games; his previous goal also came at the Lightning’s expense on Nov. 10 at Verizon Center. He now has four goals and eight points in nine career games against the Bolts, accounting for nearly half his career totals of nine goals and 20 points in 73 games.

Mirror Man – Going into Saturday night’s game with the Lightning, Fleischmann’s numbers this season were virtually identical to those he posted in 2006-07 with the Capitals.

In 29 games with Washington last season, Fleischmann totaled four goals, four assists, eight points and was a minus-6. Through his first 29 games of this season, all of those numbers were identical. The only difference: Fleischmann had eight PIM in 29 games last season and only six in his first 29 games of 2007-08.

Power Struggle – Washington was the beneficiary of a lengthy (1:13) two-man advantage on Saturday night and also enjoyed a four-minute power play late in the second period after Bolts blueliner Filip Kuba was sent off for high-sticking Alex Ovechkin. Washington was unable to capitalize on either of those prime opportunities but it did get the game-winner on Pothier’s power play goal. Pothier struck with just 17 seconds left on a Shane O’Brien high-sticking minor in the third.

The Caps have not scored a goal with the two-man advantage since Chris Clark did so against Florida on Mar. 30 of last season.

South-Least – With Saturday night’s win, the Caps keep pace with the Carolina Hurricanes, the first place team in the Southeast Division. Washington trails Carolina by nine points.

A Southeast Division club currently occupies each of the bottom four slots in the Eastern Conference standings, and only three points separate those four teams. Tampa Bay is 12th in the East with 31 points. The Lightning is followed by Florida with 30 points, Atlanta with 29 and the Capitals with 28.

Back-to-Back, Jack – Saturday night’s win marked the fourth straight time in which Washington has won the second of games on back-to-back nights. All four wins in the second half of back-to-back tilts have come since Boudreau took over behind the Washington bench on Nov. 22. The Caps are now 5-5 in the second game of back-to-back tilts.

Washington played 10 sets of back-to-back games in its first 33 contests and has just eight more over the final 49 games of the season. Over the next 38 days, the Caps will play just one pair of back-to-back games, on Dec. 26-27 against Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, respectively. During the previous span of 41 days, the Capitals played six pairs of games on back-to-back nights.

Streak Stoppers –
Ovechkin’s seven-game point streak and Viktor Kozlov’s four-game assist streak were both halted on Saturday night in Tampa Bay.

Holm Cooking – Lightning goaltender Johan Holmqvist has been much better at home this season than on the road. Even after getting torched for four goals on six shots in Thursday’s 9-6 loss to Calgary, Holmqvist came into Saturday night’s game with an 11-3-2 record, a 2.33 goals against average and a .909 save pct. at the St. Pete Times Forum this season. He is 2-7-1 with a 3.99 goals against average and a dismal .862 save pct. on the road in 2007-08.

Finding the Range –
Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger scored the Bolts’ first goal of the game on Saturday. It was his sixth goal of the season, and his fourth against Washington. The Caps and Lightning have met on four occasions this season, and Ranger has scored in each one of those games.

Down on the Farm – A night after a 5-1 road win over the Admirals in Norfolk, the Hershey Bears returned home to Giant Center to host the Toronto Marlies. Hershey fell, 3-1.

Ex-Cap Bates Battaglia staked Toronto to a 1-0 lead, and it was the first of three unanswered Marlies tallies in the first 35 minutes of the game.  The Bears didn’t get on the board until Jay Beagle scored his ninth of the season on a Hershey power play at 5:14 of the third period with help from Chris Bourque and Sami Lepisto.

Frederic Cassivi stopped 39 of the 42 shots he faced but lost in a duel with Toronto goaltender Scott Clemmensen. The loss dropped Hershey’s record to 14-9-0-2.
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