Alarm Clock – While discussing Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Red Wings with the assembled media after the game, Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin casually mentioned that he wasn’t at peak alertness for today’s 12:30 tilt.
“I think in the first two periods I did not have a lot of chances and I was still kind of sleepy,” admitted Ovechkin.
Ovi’s alarm clock went off in time for him to score a pair of third period goals -- the first one a show-stopper -- to help the Caps to a rare win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. The league’s best third period player administered some 2:30 thunder instead of his usual 9:00 thunder.
With today’s two third period tallies, Ovechkin now has 17 third period goals, accounting for more than half of his season total of 33 which leads the NHL. Ovi’s 17 third-period strikes are also the most in the NHL.
The two goals came in a span of just 1:16 and broke a 2-2 deadlock in a terrific hockey game witnessed by another sellout crowd at Verizon Center.
Moving On Up – Ovechkin now has 196 goals in three-plus NHL seasons, tying him with Bengt Gustafsson for fourth place on the Capitals’ all-time ledger.
Welcome Back – To Caps defenseman Tom Poti who returned to the lineup after missing the last 15 games because of a groin ailment. He made his presence felt immediately.
On a first period shift, Poti’s stick came up large three times in three different zones. First, his diving pokecheck on a backcheck knocked the puck off the stick of a Wing who was headed toward the Washington goal on an odd-man break.
Seconds later, he used his stick to thwart a Detroit player who was attempting to skate the puck out of his own end of the ice. Poti poked the puck back into the attack zone.
Finally, he got a stick on an indirect Detroit pass in the neutral zone, keeping the Wings from entering the Caps’ zone cleanly.
Poti finished with 20:38 and five blocked shots, most of any player on either team.
Let ’Em Play – There was a tremendous amount of flow and pace to today’s game, and there were several instances where play went on for a few minutes without being broken up by whistles. Generally speaking, most NHL games average about a face-off per minute. Today’s game had just 47 face-offs.
Four times this afternoon – once in the first and third periods and twice in the second – play went on uninterrupted by a whistle for a span of more than four minutes. There were no icing calls on either team until the first two minutes of the third period when both teams were guilty of icing the puck within 18 seconds of one another.
First Response – Detroit took a first period lead on Saturday, only to see Washington respond with the tying goal just 57 seconds later. The Caps went up 2-1 late in the second, but the Wings responded with a goal in the final minute of the frame, just 111 seconds after Washington had taken the lead.
Ovechkin’s first goal gave the Caps another one-goal lead at 3-2 in the third, but before Detroit could respond Ovechkin did so himself. He followed his first goal with another just 76 seconds later.
Even Up –Mike Green’s goal on Saturday was his 14th of the season and just his fourth at even-strength this season. Green has now scored an even-strength goal in consecutive games. He netted three of his four even-strength goals in the month of January.
Double Sawbuck – Washington’s win over the Wings was its 20th of the season on home ice. The Caps are now 20-3-1 at Verizon Center this season.
Four In A Row – The Caps went 7-4-1 in January, marking their fourth straight month with a winning record this season. It’s the first time in franchise history that Washington has opened the season with four consecutive winning months.
Long Time Coming – The Caps’ Saturday win over the Wings snapped Detroit’s three-game winning streak over Washington. The Caps last defeated the Wings on Nov. 24, 2003. That 4-1 victory at Joe Louis Arena stands as the only victory in the NHL career of Caps goalie Rastislav Stana.
Today’s win over the Wings was Washington’s first in the District since a 6-2 drubbing of Detroit on Oct. 31, 2000.
And Then There Was One – Saturday’s win over the Detroit leaves San Jose as the only team the Capitals have not beaten during Ovechkin’s NHL career.
Streak Stopper – The Caps managed just 27 shots on goal on Saturday, snapping a streak of 12 straight games with at least 30 shots on goal. That streak was Washington’s longest since it fired 30 or more shots in each of the final 15 games of the 1983-84 season.
Back In The Saddle – Caps forwards Viktor Kozlov and Nicklas Backstrom both entered Saturday’s game having been held off the scoresheet in seven of their previous eight games. Both players rebounded with multiple-point efforts on Saturday.
Kozlov scored Washington’s first goal of the day and made a crisp saucer pass to Ovechkin for the eventual game-winner. Backstrom had a pair of primary assists, including one on which he hooked a pass to Green while lying prone on the ice.
It’s Been A While – Detroit’s previous visit to Verizon Center came on Dec. 9, 2005. The Wings came away with a 4-3 win that night. It’s interesting to look at the two teams that took the ice that night and compare them to the two teams that skated here on Saturday afternoon.
The rebuilding Caps fell to 9-17-2 on the season with that loss. Today, only six members of the team that took on the Wings that night are still wearing Caps sweaters: Alex Ovechkin, Chris Clark, Matt Bradley, Brooks Laich, Shaone Morrisonn and Brent Johnson.
Since that night more than three years ago, Detroit has lost two future Hall of Famers from its roster: Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan. Amazingly, the Wings still have 16 of the 20 players who suited up for that game more than three years ago: Chris Chelios, Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Kris Draper, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Jirir Hudler, Brett Lebda, Nicklas Lidstrom, Andreas Lilja, Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Zetterberg.
Road Kill – The Wings came into Saturday’s game with the league’s most anemic penalty killing unit on the road. Detroit had successfully snuffed just 73.6% of the opposition’s manpower advantage situations this season heading into today’s game. That woeful number will erode further after Washington clicked on one of its three extra-man chances in Saturday’s game.
Powerful – Johan Franzen scored a power platy goal for the Wings late in the second period. Today marked the eighth straight game in which the Wings tallied at least one power play goal in the contest. Detroit has had at least one power play goal in 14 of its last 15 games.
Skidding – Saturday’s loss drops the Wings’ record to 0-4-1 in its last four games. It’s the Wings’ longest losing streak since an 0-5-1 skid from Feb. 7-17, 2008.
Giving It Up – Detroit has surrendered 23 goals during the life of its five-game losing streak. The Wings have allowed four or more goals in four of the five games.
Welcome To The Show – Red Wings center Ville Leino made his NHL debut here today at Verizon Center, and he made it memorable by scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot on goal in the league. Late in the first period, Leino gained the zone and carved his way toward the middle of the ice. The 25-year-old Finn slowly spun his 6-foot-0, 182-pound frame in order to protect the puck. Coasting toward the top of the crease in mid-spin, he neatly tucked a backhander past Caps goalie Jose Theodore.
The Red Wings have a reputation for finding plenty of talent in Europe, and Leino might be the latest in that line of imports. He led Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League with 77 points (28 goals, 49 assists) last season and was second in the league in scoring. He won MVP honors in that league in 2007-08.
Getting his first taste of North American pro hockey in 2008-09, Leino had 11 goals and 37 points in 44 games with AHL Grand Rapids prior to his recall earlier this week.
1 - 0 DET
1 - 1 Tie