Postseason Notebook -- March
The sixth in a seven-part series that looks back on the Caps' '07-08 season
Kolzig’s first NHL win came at USAir Arena on Jan. 27, 1995, shortly after the start of the lockout shortened 1994-95 NHL campaign. He defeated the New York Islanders in a game that was also notable for ex-Cap center Jason Allison’s first NHL goal.
“It was against the Islanders at the old USAir Arena,” Kolzig replied, when asked to recount his memories of his first NHL victory. “I think I was 0-8, I can’t remember how I started out. I didn’t see 300 coming, that’s for sure. A 5-2 win. I was ecstatic.
“Other than to win Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals against Buffalo, it was probably the biggest win for me.”
Kolzig notched the milestone win in his first try; he defeated the Sabres in Buffalo a week earlier in his previous start to record win No. 299. Kolzig became the first NHL netminder to reach 300 wins since Dominik Hasek did so on Oct. 15, 2005 against Boston.
Stingy in the First – Calgary’s Jarome Iginla scored with just 45 seconds left in the first period of the Mar. 12 game, marking the first time since Feb. 23 that the Caps had allowed a goal in the first period of a game.
The Hurricanes’ Matt Cullen victimized Kolzig on Feb. 23 in Carolina. Both Cullen and Iginla scored on the power play. The last time the Caps allowed an even-strength goal in the first period of a game was on Feb. 15 at Florida when the Panthers’ Rostislav Olesz beat Washington’s Brent Johnson.
Capitals goaltenders had stopped 84 consecutive first period shots between Cullen’s goal and Iginla’s 5-on-3 strike.
Double Trouble – Brooks Laich did not have a multiple-goal game in the first 214 games of his NHL career, but he has had three two-goal games in a span of nine contests after he potted a pair against the Thrashers on Mar. 14.
Laich had scored 10 goals in his last 12 games at that stage, doing so by going to the net, camping in front, creating screens, deflecting pucks, banging home rebounds and generally getting his nose dirty.
He eloquently summed up his goal-scoring philosophy thusly after the game: “If you want money, go to the bank. If you want bread, go to the bakery. If you want goals, go to the net.”
Coming Up Short – Matt Cooke’s shorthanded goal in the second period of the Mar. 14 game against Atlanta was the first shorty by a Capital in 48 games, since Boyd Gordon scored while the Caps were down a man on Nov. 24 against Carolina. Gordon’s shorthanded goal that night was an empty-netter.
Prior to Cooke’s goal, the Caps’ last shorthanded strike with a goaltender in the opposing net was on Nov. 19 against Florida when Laich beat the Panthers’ Tomas Vokoun.
Cooke’s shorthanded goal was the Caps’ fourth of the season. Four different scorers authored those goals. In addition to Cooke, Gordon and Laich, Matt Bradley had a shorthanded goal (Oct. 29 at Toronto) for the Caps in 2007-08.
Cooke’s shorthanded goal against the Thrashers was his first since he netted one with Vancouver against Colorado on Dec. 29, 2003.
Sustained Stinginess – The Caps’ defense was a much-maligned unit early in the season, but it put together a tremendous streak of stinginess when it mattered most.
After downing the Predators 4-2 in Nashville on Mar. 18, the Caps had surrendered just 49 opposition goals in their previous 22 games, an average of just 2.23 goals per game. Over the season’s first 52 games, the Caps allowed an average of 3.12 goals per game.
Excluding empty-net goals, Washington had limited its opponent to three or fewer goals in 21 of the last 22 games.
Century City – Alex Ovechkin recorded his 100th point of the season with his first period assist on Alexander Semin’s power play goal on Mar. 18 in Nashville. In doing so, Ovechkin became the first Capital ever to record multiple 100-point seasons. Ovechkin amassed 106 points as a rookie in 2005-06.
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 became the fastest NHLer to 300 since Peter Forsberg reached the milestone in his 229th NHL game on Dec. 23, 1997.
Plus Side – With its plus-2 goal differential in its Mar. 18 win at Nashville, Washington had more goals scored (213) than goals against (211) for the 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 – The victory over the Predators put 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 the victory at Nashville, netting three goals in the first period and keeping the Predators off the board in the first 20 minutes. In a span of 14 games concluding with that win in Nashville, the Capitals had outscored opponents in the first period by a staggering combined total of 21-3.
Power Play Prowess – The Nashville game marked the sixth straight game in which Washington tallied at least one power play goal. It was the first time the Caps had notched a power play goal in as many as six straight games since a six-game run from Jan. 1-13, 2007.
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