Cold Cujo – It’s not often you see a goaltender come into a game cold from the bench in the final minute of regulation time in a regular season game and earn the game’s first star designation.
Maple Leafs netminder Curtis Joseph has been in the league a long time, 19 seasons to be exact. He has won 453 NHL games. But we’re willing to bet that none of them was anything like the 3-2 shootout win – NHL victory No. 453 – he authored over the Capitals in Toronto on Tuesday.
Trailing 2-1 as the final minute of regulation approached, the Capitals pulled goaltender Jose Theodore in favor of an extra attacker. As the clock began to count down the final minute of regulation, a goalmouth scramble ensued in front of Toronto goaltender Martin Gerber.
Caps center Brooks Laich – never one to shy away from the high-traffic areas – was parked in the blue paint, and he began to whack ferociously at the loose puck. In the process, he managed to pound the disc – and an incensed Gerber – into the net, tying the game 2-2 in the process.
Gerber went ballistic, initiating body contact with the officials, and earning himself a game misconduct. Enter Joseph, whose last action came in a start against Ottawa on
The Capitals opened fire on CuJo early and often. The veteran netminder faced nine shots in less than six minutes of work, most of them high-quality shots from the Caps’ top snipers. Joseph started by turning aside an Alex Ovechkin one-timer from the circle to the goaltender’s right. That save came with just 12 seconds remaining in regulation time.
Joseph finished the night by thwarting Nicklas Backstrom, Semin and Ovechkin in the shootout. Despite playing just 5:57 of the game, he earned the win and was – deservedly so – named the game’s first star.
"I'm pretty impressed," Caps goalie Jose Theodore said. "I've got to tell you that you guys don't know how hard it is just to step in when you're not playing and then in the last minute, when it's a tie game like that.”
Tough Twenty – Watching the first period of Tuesday’s tilt was only slightly more exciting that watching paint dry. The stanza was crammed with icing and offside calls, there was very little flow and not much at all in the way of scoring chances. The Leafs went more than 10 minutes without a shot on goal at one point, and one of the league’s most lively and energetic barns had the feel of a library at closing time.
“I thought that was a boring 20 minutes, I’ll tell you,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “The fans weren’t in it. The players weren’t into it. We were trying to get them into it between periods. There was no energy in the building at that point. There was no energy on the ice. Everybody was playing not to win. It was pretty boring.”
Last Minute Heroics – Both of Washington’s goals in Tuesday’s game against Toronto were scored in the final minute of a period. The Caps have had at least one goal in the final-minute of a period in each of their last three games.
Each of Washington’s last three goals overall has come in the final minute of a period.
Old 97 – In picking up a single standings point against the Leafs on Tuesday, the Caps pushed their season’s total to 97, the fifth highest total ever attained in franchise history.
The club record is 107 by the 1985-86 team. The 1999-00 Capitals totaled 102 points, followed closely by the 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams, both of which amassed 101 points. The 1991-92 Capitals finished up with 98 points.
Blueline Bomber – Green fired 10 shots on goal in Tuesday’s game, a single-game career high for him. Although none of them found the back of the net and Green’s goal-scoring streak was stopped at four straight games, he did collect a point with an assist on Ovechkin’s 51st goal of the season. Green has now picked up at least a point in each of his last five games (five goals, two assists).
Green leads all NHL defensemen in goals (28), points (65) and shots on goal (253).
Blueline, Red Light – Each of the last five goals the Caps have surrendered over their last two games have been scored by opposing defensemen. Carolina blueliners Anton Babchuk, Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo closed out the scoring with third period goals against the Caps in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes.
On Tuesday in Toronto, Leafs blueliners Phil Oreskovic and Pavel Kubina found the back of the net. For Oreskovic, the goal was the first of his NHL career.
Unlucky Number – The Capitals are now 5-6-1 in games in which they total 40 or more shots on goal. The Caps had a total of 45 shots against Gerber and Joseph on Tuesday.
Shooting Star – Ovechkin had seven shots on goal in Tuesday’s game, bringing his season total to 475. He is 75 shots shy of matching Phil Esposito’s league record of 550. Ovechkin would need to average nearly 11 shots on goal per contest over Washington’s final seven games of the season in order to reach Esposito. Ovechkin has missed three games this season.
Picking Up A Point – With his assist on Laich’s last-minute goal, Caps left win Alexander Semin ended a two-game drought without a point. Semin has not gone more than two games without a point all season.
Economy – Although the Maple Leafs managed to score just six goals in their four games against Washington this season, Toronto still managed to win two of the four meetings between the two teams in 2008-09.
Dating back to last season, the Caps have allowed just 14 goals in their last eight meetings with the Maple Leafs.
Happy Birthday – To ex-Caps center and all-time NHL iron man (964 consecutive games played) Doug Jarvis, born on March 24, 1955.