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Features

Postgame Notebook 03-19-08

Thursday, 03.20.2008 / 6:05 AM / Features
By Mike Vogel  - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer
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Postgame Notebook 03-19-08
Chicago Blues – A night after the Caps stormed the Nashville Predators with a three-goal outburst in the first period, the host Chicago Blackhawks turned the tables on the Capitals. Chicago scored first on Jason Williams’ goal at 1:22 of the first period, and that would prove to be all the offense the Hawks would need. Chicago added three more first-period markers and another in the second and rode a 25-save effort from goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to a 5-0 win over the Caps.

On Tuesday in Nashville, the Predators rebounded and gave the Caps all they could handle for the game’s final 40 minutes. The Caps were able to quell Chicago’s attack for the final 40 on Wednesday, but were unable to muster much offense of their own. Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin’s third period scoring chances were Washington’s best on the night, but Khabibulin denied both with flashy glove saves.

On Semin’s bid, Khabibulin dived to his left like a shortstop leaping for a line drive up the middle, snaring Semin’s shot just as it was about to enter a seemingly empty net.

Washington was held without a power play goal for the first time in seven games.

No Fast First – Coming into Wednesday’s game with the Hawks, the Caps had allowed only three first-period goals in their previous 15 games, outscoring opponents 22-3 in the process. The Hawks managed more goals (four) in 17:54 than Caps opponents had combined to score in the previous 300 minutes of first period time.

Road Woes and Os – The Caps have been whitewashed six times this season, five times on the road.

SBF 53 –
Quintin Laing was re-inserted into the Washington lineup for Wednesday’s game and he blocked a pair of shots in his 12:34 of action on the night. He now has 51 blocked shots in 38 games and is tied for 17th among all NHL forwards in that department. Among his fellow Caps forwards, only Brooks Laich (52) has more blocked shots than Laing.

Norfolk North –
Two years ago when the Hershey Bears won the AHL’s Calder Cup championship, they swept the Norfolk Admirals – then the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in four straight games in the first round of those playoffs. From his years in Hershey coaching the Bears, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau became familiar with many of the young Hawk players.

“I’ve seen a lot of these guys,” he said before Wednesday’s game. “A lot of them. It could be almost revisited tonight; Norfolk and Hershey of two years ago. You look at the guys, [Dustin] Byfuglien, [Adam] Burish. [James] Wisniewski played there, [Dave] Bolland last year and you can go down the list of the defensemen. Jordan Hendry is still up. There are a lot of them, and obviously we have an awful lot of guys that played there as well.”

Familiar Town – Boudreau played his final NHL games as a member of the Blackhawks in 1985-86, scoring one goal in seven games for Chicago that season. Several of Boudreau’s hawks teammates from that season were in the house here on Wednesday: Denis Savard (Hawks coach), Eddie Olczyk (Hawks TV), Troy Murray (Hawks radio) and Rick Paterson.

Boudreau reminisced about that season before the game.

“The one shift I got in Vancouver, I scored,” he recalled. “And then we played the next night and I got one shift again, drew a penalty, and we scored the winning goal. That was the last game of the trip and then I came home. On Monday, [then-Hawks coach Bob Pulford] says, ‘You played really good, but I’m going to you down anyway.’”

The Chase – This was not a good night for the chase. The Caps lost two points to Carolina, which defeated Atlanta 5-3. Washington now trails the Hurricanes by five points in the race for the Southeast Division crown with seven games remaining.

Buffalo came back from a 4-1 third period deficit to score six unanswered goals in the third and stun the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-4. A night after the Caps had gone a point ahead of the Sabres, the Sabres hopped back to a point in front of Washington.

The sixth place Rangers won over New Jersey and are now seven points ahead of the Capitals.

Brothers in Arms – Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was one of several Chicago players to shine brightly on this night. He logged 26:57 in ice time, picked up an assist and was plus-2 on the evening.

Seabrook is the older brother of Keith Seabrook, the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) defenseman chosen by Washington with the Caps’ second-round choice (52nd overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Tony O Night –
The Blackhawks had a sellout crowd in the house to witness a stirring tribute to longtime Hawks goalie and Hockey Hall of Famer Tony Esposito. The Chicago organization did itself proud all night long, and longtime Hawk followers were visibly moved and very appreciative of the gesture. Several of Esposito’s former Hawks teammates were on hand, and the team surprised Esposito by bringing in his brother Phil for the ceremony.

Almost a Thousand – Esposito dropped the puck for a ceremonial face-off between goaltenders Olie Kolzig of the Caps and Khabibulin. Between the three longtime NHL netminders, they have nearly a thousand victories in the league. Esposito has 423, Kolzig 301 and Khabibulin 269 for a grand total of nearly a grand: 993.

By The Dozen – Twelve different Hawks picked up at least a point on the scoresheet in Chicago’s win, and only two (Williams and ex-Cap Robert Lang) had more than one. Williams had a goal and an assist and Lang had a pair of helpers.

35 on 35’s Night –
Hawks winger Patrick Sharp scored his 35th goal of the season on Wendesday night as the Blackhawks honored Esposito, whose No. 35 sweater was retired and has been hanging in the rafters for nearly two decades.

On This Date in NHL History – Ex-Hawks winger Kenny Wharram – best known as a member of the famed “Scooter Line” during his days here in Chicago – scored his first NHL goal for the Blackhawks against the Boston Bruins on this date in 1954.

Happy Birthday –
To hockey legend Bobby Orr, who turns 60 on Thursday. Orr was born Mar. 20, 1948.
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