Fast Response – The Caps twice answered a Lightning goal with a strike of their own within a matter of seconds in Thursday’s game.
Ryan Malone’s goal early in the second period pulled the Bolts to within one at 3-2, but Matt Bradley’s fourth of the season came just 11 seconds later and it restored Washington’s two-goal cushion.
The Lightning’s Mark Recchi again pulled the Lightning within a goal midway through the third period, but Caps captain Chris Clark came back to score and push the margin back to two just 25 seconds later.
Hard Hat – Clark was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist and a fight), a feat he has achieved more than once in his NHL career. The Caps’ captain has been playing much better since returning to the lineup on Dec. 26 after he missed a month with a fractured forearm, but he was still looking for his first goal of the season until Thursday.
Prior to Thursday, Clark’s previous goal had come on Nov. 28, 2007 against Florida. He had gone 24 games without lighting the red lamp.
Gordo’s Gold – With a goal and an assist on Thursday, Boyd Gordon now has three goals and four points in his last four games. He has five goals and a dozen points on the season, and is two goals shy of matching his single-season career best. Gordon scored seven goals in each of the last two seasons.
Gordon’s goal against the Lightning is the second game-winner of his NHL career and his second this season. He supplied the game-winner in Washington’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Oct. 16.
Fast Firsts – Washington got off to a quick start in Thursday’s game, firing three first period goals past Lightning netminder Mike Smith. Fast starts in the first have been a home ice trademark for the Capitals this season. The Caps have now outscored opponents 25-9 in the first period of their 18 home games in 2008-09.
Five Spot – Thursday’s win was Washington’s fifth in a row and its 10th in the last 11 games. The Caps have had three five-game winning streaks this season.
Here’s Johnny – After missing two games because of injury and backing up Jose Theodore on Tuesday night in Buffalo, Caps goaltender Brent Johnson was back between the pipes on Thursday against the Lightning, making his first start since suffering a 7-1 setback to the Flyers on Dec. 20 in Philadelphia.
Johnson is now 11-5-2 on the season and he has won six of his last seven starts overall.
Penalty Shot – Johnson stopped the Lightning’s Adam Hall on a penalty shot midway through the second period. Johnson has allowed one goal in four career penalty shot attempts against him. He has stopped both penalty shot bids he has faced this season. The first was against the New York Rangers’ Chris Drury at Verizon Center on Nov. 8, 2008.
Nicky and Ovi --Alex Ovechkin recorded his 15th multiple-point goal of the season (one goal, two assists). He now has 12 goals and 17 points in his last 11 games, and 47 points in his last 30 games (24g-23a). The Capitals are 26-1-1 in the last 28 games when Ovechkin has scored a goal (16-1-1 this season). It marks the second year in a row that Ovechkin recorded his 50th point of the season on New Year’s Day.
Ovechkin has now scored a goal in each of the Caps’ last seven home games, lighting the lamp nine times in that stretch. The Capitals are 7-0 in those games.
Nicklas Backstrom recorded his 10th multiple-point game of the season tonight (two assists) and his third multiple-point game in a row. It also extends his current point streak to five games (one goal, nine assists).
New Year’s Day – With Thursday’s win the Capitals have pushed their all-time New Year’s Day record to 14-5-3-1. The 7-4 win over the Lightning was the highest scoring New Year’s Day affair since the Caps put a 9-2 hurting on the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 1, 1993. The only New Year’s Day game that featured more goals by both teams combined was Washington’s 8-5 win over the New York Islanders on Jan. 1, 1992.
No. 1 For No. 62 – For the second consecutive game and for the fourth time this season, a Capital scored his first NHL goal on Thursday. Caps defenseman Sean Collins notched his first NHL tally against the Lightning’s Mike Smith, a game after Chris Bourque turned the trick against the Buffalo Sabres.
Bourque and Collins join Tyler Sloan (Oct. 25 at Dallas) and Karl Alzner (Dec. 6 at Buffalo) on the list of Caps who’ve tallied for the first time in the NHL in 2008-09. Collins is the first of the four to do so at home. The Caps are 4-0 in games when a player scores his first NHL goal this season.
Defensive partner Shaone Morrisonn assisted on Collins’ goal. Morrisonn’s assist came on the fifth anniversary of his own first NHL goal. Mo scored for the first time while with Boston on Jan. 1, 2004 against Toronto’s Eddie Belfour.
Century City – Bench boss Bruce Boudreau coached his 100th NHL game on Thursday. He is now 62-28-10, and he is now 7-0 against the Lightning. Boudreau is 37-9-4 at home since taking over behind the Washington bench on Nov. 22, 2007.
200 Club – Caps defenseman Mike Green played in the 200th game of his NHL career against the Lightning on Thursday. He had a goal and an assist and was plus-2 in the game. For his career, Green now has 30 goals and 66 assists for 96 points. He is plus-1 overall.
Halfway There – Green’s goal against the Lightning was his ninth of the season and it came in his 26th game of the campaign. Last season, Green scored 18 goals in 82 games.
He Owns Them –David Steckel’s first period goal was his fifth of the season – matching his single-season career best – and the 10th of his career. He has now scored exactly half of his career NHL goals against the Lightning, and he has now victimized four different goaltenders.
Steckel’s first three NHL goals all came at the Lightning’s expense, all in different games and all against different goaltenders. Steckel scored against the Lightning’s Marc Denis, Johan Holmqvist and Karri Ramo in that order last season, and later scored on Holmqvist for a second time.
Juice on the Loose – Milan Jurcina’s first period assist on Steckel’s goal gives him seven helpers and 10 points on the season. He is now one assist and one point shy of matching his single-season career bests in both of those categories.
Jurcina is the only Caps defenseman who has played in all 39 Washington games this season, and he is now tied for second (with Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz) among all Caps blueliners in assists. Jurcina has three assists and is plus-3 in his last four games.
Cooking at Home – Washington has won seven straight games on home ice and is 16-1-1 at the Verizon Center this season. The Capitals have outscored the opposition 71-37 on home ice this season, and they have a 25-9 first period edge over opponents at the Phone Booth in 2008-09.
Heward Hurt -- Ex-Caps defenseman Jamie Heward, who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent last summer, was carried off on a stretcher in the seventh minute of the third period. Heward went into the corner after a loose puck and absorbed a hit from Ovechkin, who was not penalized on the play.
According to postgame reports, Heward has a concussion and he will stay overnight at Sibley Memorial Hospital for observation.
"He was moving his arms," said Lightning coach Rick Tocchet. "He was unconscious for about a minute and a half. So we made sure that we called his wife. I don't know for sure, but it seems that it's hopefully positive. We'll keep him overnight."
Déjà Vu – For the second time in as many visits to Verizon Center this season, the Lightning dug itself a 3-0 first period hole on Thursday. When Tampa Bay first came to town on Nov. 10, the Caps nicked former Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig for three first period goals on their way to a 4-2 triumph.
“They took it to us early on,” said Lightning winger Martin St. Louis, who had three assists on the night, “but I thought we battled back. We stayed with it and tried to climb out of the hole. It’s just hard when you dig a hole.”
TB Shots – The Lightning allowed 30 or more shots on goal in 23 of its first 24 games this season. Coming into Thursday night’s game with the Caps, Tampa Bay had allowed fewer than 30 shots on goal in seven of its last 14 games, and four straight. The Lightning was 3-0-1 in those four previous contests.
The Caps fired 15 shots on goal in the first period and launched their 30th of the game in first minute of third. Seven of the 35 pucks they fired at Smith found their way into the net. Prior to Thursday’s loss in Washington, Smith had a 1.94 GAA and a .922 save pct. in his previous four starts.
Recching Ball – For the Capitals, there is no stopping and no containing of Lightning winger Mark Recchi. Whether he’s wearing a Penguins, Flyers, Canadiens, Hurricanes or Lightning sweater, Recchi has long been a notorious Cap killer.
It was no surprise to see him pump a wrister past Johnson in the third period of Thursday’s game, his 47th career goal against Washington. No other active player has scored more against the Caps; Recchi has scored nine more goals than Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour (38) has against Washington. Recchi now has 108 career points against the Capitals, tied with Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for the most points ever against the team since Washington entered the NHL in 1974-75.
On This Date in NHL History – Collins and Morrisonn have some good company as far as defensemen who scored their first NHL goals on this date. Back in 1947, Bill Gadsby netted his first NHL tally for the Chicago Blackhawks in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. And on this date in 1953, Leo Boivin scored his first NHL goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game against the Boston Bruins.
Both Gadsby and Boivin went on to gain enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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