Heading Home – The Caps came home to Washington shortly after a 4-1 setback at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Saturday night. Washington departed for a four-game trip a week ago, and it returns with a 2-1 mark in those four games. Including a couple of road games last week and an upcoming visit to Toronto on Tuesday, the Capitals are in the midst of a stretch in which they play seven of eight games on the road. Washington has posted a very respectable 5-2 record in the first seven of those eight games.
After a strong first period in which the Caps killed a couple of penalties and outshot the Canes 10-4, Washington fell into a bit of a lull in the second. Jussi Jokinen was allowed to dig a puck out of the corner uncontested and had plenty of time to slide it in front to veteran center Rod Brind’Amour, who had all the time and space he needed to beat Caps goalie Jose Theodore on the blocker side for a 1-0 Carolina lead at 3:53 of the second period.
The Caps rallied to tie the score in the final minute of the middle frame, but were undone by poor coverage in front of their own net in the third period. Carolina bagged a pair of rebound goals – both by defensemen marching unmolested near the paint of the Washington crease. Blueliner Joe Corvo chopped a 200-foot amepty-netter just inside the post to close out the scoring.
The Caps now have eight regular season games remaining in 2008-09, four at home and four on the road. All eight are against teams currently on the outside of the NHL’s playoff picture.
Raleigh Reunion – Saturday night’s game took place at the site of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the RBC Center in Raleigh. For the first time since the ’04 Draft, each of Washington’s top four choices in that draft took the ice together for a game at RBC Center.
Washington recalled left wing Chris Bourque (second round, 33rd overall in 2004) from AHL Hershey on Saturday, and he joined the Caps three first-rounders – Alex Ovechkin (first overall), Jeff Schultz (27th) and Mike Green (29th) – in the Capitals lineup tonight.
Although Bourque had played at RBC Center previously in preseason action, tonight marked his first time on the ice in a regular season NHL game in Raleigh.
Green is Red Hot – Green scored Washington’s only goal, doing so in the final minute of the second period. It marked the second straight game in which Green scored a goal in the final minute of a frame; he tallied in the final 60 seconds of the first period of Thursday’s 5-2 win over Tampa Bay.
Green now has 28 goals on the season, the most by any NHL defenseman since Hockey Hall of Famer Al MacInnis scored 28 for the St. Louis Blues in 1993-94.
Green, who set an NHL record for defensemen by scoring at least one goal in eight straight games earlier this season, is now halfway to matching that mark. He has goals in four straight games, with five tallies and an assist during that stretch.
Not Quite There Yet – Caps goaltender Jose Theodore would have reached the .500 mark for his NHL career with a win over Carolina on Saturday, instead he bounces back to two games under at 211-213-44.
The last time Theodore was at .500 for his NHL career was Nov. 9, 1998 when he was 8-8-2 lifetime. The last time Theodore’s NHL record was above .500 was on Feb. 17, 1997 when he ran his record to 5-4-2.
We’re Not Tired – Carolina’s win over Washington came in its second of back-to-back games; the Canes won a 5-4 decision over the New York Islanders on Friday night at RBC Center. The Canes are now 11-3 in the second half of back-to-back games this season.
Happy Birthday – To ex-Caps blueline blaster Al Iafrate, born Mar. 21, 1966. And birthday greetings to Caps defenseman Tom Poti, who turns 32 on Sunday.
This Date in NHL History – Caps winger Viktor Kozlov scored the first goal of his NHL career for the San Jose Sharks against the Chicago Blackhawks’ Eddie Belfour on this date in 1995.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears continued a weekend tour through New England with a Saturday night stop in Portland. The Bears authored a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Pirates.
Oskar Osala started the scoring for the Bears with his 22nd of the season with help from fellow rookies Mathieu Perreault and Francois Bouchard at 2:15 of the first period. Portland then reeled off four unanswered goals in a span of 16:21 to take a 4-1 second period lead.
With 3:18 remaining in the middle frame, Hershey’s Kyle Wilson netted his 25th of the season with an assist from Sami Lepisto.
Down 4-2 going into the third, the Bears got busy early and late. Alexandre Giroux scored his 48th of the season on a power play from Staffan Kronwall and Sami Lepisto just 36 seconds into the frame. Groux then scored the equalizer with just 1:27 left in regulation, Perreault and Karl Alzner assisting. With just 39 seconds left in the game, Kronwall scored from Giroux and Graham Mink to get the Bears out of town with two points in a thrilling comeback victory.
Daren Machesney made 22 saves to run his record to 19-9-1 on the season. The win brought the Bears to within a point of the first-place Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL’s East Division. Hershey, which has two games in hand on Bridgeport, visits Manchester on Sunday.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays hosted the Mississippi Sea Wolves on Saturday. Keith Johnson scored twice and Mick Berge supplied the game-winner in overtime as the Stingrays downed the Wolves, 3-2. Goaltender James Reimer made 30 saves to run his record to 14-7-2-1, including a perfect 4-0 with South Carolina.
The Stingrays host Mississippi once again on Sunday.
South Carolina has already clinched an ECHL playoff berth. The Rays are 6-0-0-1 in their last seven and are in second place in the ECHL’s South Division, 11 points behind the Florida Everblades.
1 - 0 CAR
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 CAR
3 - 1 CAR
SHG - EN -
4 - 1 CAR