Postgame Notebook 3-18-08
Ovechkin later added another assist and then bagged an empty-net goal – his 58th of the season – in the closing seconds of the game. That goal was also the 300th point of Ovechkin’s NHL career. He reached 300 in his 237th career NHL game. He is the fastest NHLer to 300 since Peter Forsberg reached the milestone in his 229th NHL game on Dec. 23, 1997.
Ovechkin is two goals shy of becoming the second Capital ever to score 60 in a season. Dennis Maruk netted 60 in 1981-82 and it has stood as the club record ever since. Ovechkin is one power play goal shy of matching Peter Bondra’s single-season franchise mark of 22, set in 2000-01.
Plus Side – With its plus-2 goal differential in Tuesday’s win at Nashville, Washington now has more goals scored (213) than goals against (211) this season. The last time the Capitals were on the plus side of the goals for/goals against ledger was after the fourth game of the season when they had outscored the opposition by a combined 8-5.
Six Up – Tuesday’s win puts the Capitals six games above the NHL’s break-even point for the first time since the end of the 2002-03 regular season. The Caps finished ’02-03 with a record of 39-29-8-6.
Super Starters – The Caps started swiftly in Tuesday’s triumph at Nashville, netting three goals in the first period and keeping the Predators off the board in the first 20 minutes. Swift starts have been the pattern of late for Washington. In their last 15 games, the Capitals have outscored opponents by a staggering combined total of 22-3.
Power Play Prowess – Tuesday marked the sixth straight game in which Washington tallied at least one power play goal. It’s the first time the Caps have notched a power play goal in as many as six straight games since a six-game run from Jan. 1-13, 2007.
Lucky Charm – Matt Bradley’s first period goal proved to be the game-winner. Washington is now 10-0-1 in games when Bradley records a point.
Eight-Year Itch – Washington’s win in Music City on Tuesday was its second ever in Nashville and its first in this city since a 4-2 victory on Feb. 12, 2000. Sergei Gonchar and Adam Oates scored for the Caps in that game, and Chris Simon paced the attack with a pair of goals and an assist. Olie Kolzig made 29 saves for the win.
Thirty – Tuesday’s win was Bruce Boudreau’s 30th as Washington’s head coach. Since Boudreau took over the team’s reins on Nov. 22, the Capitals are 30-16-7.
Shots Down -- Washington managed only 21 shots on goal against the Predators, the fewest it has recorded in its last 24 games. The last time the Caps were limited to fewer shots on goal was on Jan. 24 when the Maple Leafs held the Caps to 20 shots on goal. Washington won that game, 2-1.
Searching For Bobby Fischer – No, he’s not dead. He’s here in Nashville, up in the press box. One of the guys on press row had his laptop open and was playing chess on his computer during the first period of the game here tonight. The only reason I noticed was that his laptop lid was blocking my view of the ice.
The Chase – Washington’s win enabled it to keep pace with the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. Philadelphia downed Atlanta 3-1 and the Rangers coasted to a 5-2 win over the Penguins, so the Caps remain two points behind the Flyers for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington did hope over idle Buffalo into ninth place in the conference standings.
Most importantly, the Caps’ win on Tuesday came in its “game in hand” with Carolina. Both the Capitals and the Hurricanes have eight games remaining now, including two against each other. Washington trails Carolina by three points for the lead in the Southeast Division.
Home Woes – Tuesday night’s loss extended Nashville’s home ice winless streak to five games. The last time the Predators went winless in as many as five straight games on home ice was Mar. 1-27, 2004 when they were 0-2-2-1 in five games.
The Predators are normally quite effective in their own bard. Nashville has 80 wins on its home ice over the last three seasons. Only Detroit (81) has more among all NHL clubs during the same span.
Trouble in the Third – The Preds have been strong of late in the game’s final frame. Nashville has outscored its opposition 23-14 in the third period of its last 18 games.
On This Date in NHL History – Ex-Cap forward Blair Stewart netted his first NHL goal playing for the Capitals in the team’s inaugural season on this date in 1975. Stewart’s goal came against the Philadelphia Flyers.