|FLA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|WSH||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
Serial Killers -- Washington came into Saturday night’s game on the heels of one of its worst performances of the season in a 5-4 loss to the Kings at Verizon Center on Thursday night. The Caps also dragged a dubious 13-game streak in which they had allowed at least one power play goal into Saturday night’s Southeast Division skirmish with the Florida Panthers.
The Caps wove together an impressive defensive effort as a team to down the Panthers 3-1 at Verizon Center. More impressively and more importantly, they got the penalty killing monkey off their back with an exclamation point.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the late stages of the third period, the Caps went down a man when Sergei Fedorov was whistled for holding at 14:04 of the third. Less than a minute later, Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn plowed Panthers forward Cory Stillman into the boards from behind in the Washington zone. Morrisonn was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
As a result of Morrisonn’s miscue, the Caps were looking at a two-man advantage for 1:05 and a full 3:55 of shorthanded time afterwards. It marked the fifth straight game in which the Capitals have been faced with a two-man disadvantage. It was the 10th two-man disadvantage situation the Caps had faced in their last 14 games.
Given the state of Washington’s recent penalty killing résumé, the last five minutes of tonight’s game looked like a daunting task.
“Tonight, we were down on a five on three and then [shorthanded] almost [four] minutes and were able to play really well and get a goal,” said Caps goaltender Jose Theodore. “I think the PK did a great job today. You know you’re going to have to come up with one or two big saves.”
Tonight, it was just one. The Panthers had only one shot on goal in the game’s final five minutes. The main reason for that was Washington’s shot-blocking excellence on the extended penalty kill. The Capitals blocked 19 shots on the night, seven of them during the extended penalty kill at game’s end. David Steckel and Tom Poti blocked two each. Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner and Green each got in the way of a Florida shot.
The Caps had two shots on goal of their own during the same span. Panthers coach Pet DeBoer pulled goaltender Tomas Vokoun for an extra attacker with 1:48 remaining, so the Caps were down six skaters to four at that point. But they were also able to take free shots at the vacant Florida cage without fear of an icing call, and Mike Green lofted a 168-footer into the net to remove any more drama with 1:13 left.
Six Pack – Green’s power play goal in the first minute of the third period gave him at least one goal in six straight games, extending the club record for defensemen he established when he scored against the Kings on Thursday.
Green’s streak is the longest by any NHL defenseman since Anaheim’s Fredrik Olausson netted a goal in five straight games from Jan. 8-18, 1999.
Green is now one game shy of matching the NHL record for most consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman. That record was established by Boston’s Mike O’Connell who tallied in seven straight games for the Bruins in January of 1984. O’Connell netted a career-high 18 goals that season.
O’Connell was chosen one pick after Caps coach Bruce Boudreau in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft. Both players went in the third round, Boudreau with the 42nd overall pick to Toronto and O’Connell to Chicago with the 43rd choice. O’Connell was the first Chicago-born player ever to suit up for the Blackhawks.
Green’s power play goal was his 18th goal of the season, matching his single-season career high established in 2007-08. He later set a single-season best when he potted an empty-netter for his 19th of the season late in the third. Green needed 82 games to score 18 goals last season, but he has 19 goals in just 41 goals thus far in 2008-09.
With 14 power play goals, Green is two shy of Scott Stevens’ single-season team record for defensemen. Stevens had 16 power play goals in 1984-85.
Green’s empty-netter was the first shorthanded goal of his NHL career. He earned the hardhat for his efforts on this night.
Early Thunder – For the second game in a row, the Caps scored a goal in the game’s first minute. Alexander Semin scored 15 seconds into Thursday’s loss to the Kings, and Eric Fehr tallied just 33 seconds into tonight’s tilt with the Panthers.
20 For 60 – Theodore’s win over the Panthers was his 20th of the season. He has now won 20 or more games six times in his NHL career.
Shooting Gallery – The Panthers came into Saturday’s game having allowed an average of 33.6 shots per game, the highest figure in the NHL. That number nudged upwards on Saturday when Washington launched 39 shots on the Panthers’ Tomas Vokoun.
Alex Ovechkin poured a dozen shots on goal, adding to his league-leading total which now stands at 345.
Unsung Hero – With a plus-2 rating, an assist, four blocked shots and a 7-for-11 (64%) performance in the face-off circle tonight, Steckel earned the second star designation. His assist was his eighth of the season, a new single-season career high for the big pivot.
|Eric Fehr (6) ASST: Tomas Fleischmann (11), Mike Green (28)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Keith Ballard (5) ASST: Richard Zednik (12), Cory Stillman (18)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Mike Green (18) ASST: Alex Ovechkin (32), Alexander Semin (26)|
2 - 1 WSH
|SHG - EN - Mike Green (19) ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 WSH
|Stephen Weiss Hi stick - double minor against Brooks Laich|
|Mike Green Tripping against Radek Dvorak|
|Jassen Cullimore Holding against Brooks Laich|
|Alex Ovechkin Hi-sticking against Michael Frolik|
|Stephen Weiss Holding against Mike Green|
|Eric Fehr Interference against Michael Frolik|
|Sergei Fedorov Holding against Cory Stillman|
|Shaone Morrisonn Boarding (maj) against Cory Stillman|
|Shaone Morrisonn Game misconduct against Cory Stillman|