Lunch Buckets – The Caps halted a three-game winless streak with one of their best overall efforts of the season against the Panthers in Florida on Friday. Washington won a 4-1 decision over the Cats; the two teams will play again on Saturday night at Verizon Center.
Washington played nearly 50 minutes of perfect hockey on Friday. It permitted no goals and took no penalties until the 50th minute of the game when Brendan Morrison was whistled for interference. By that time, the Caps had already forged a 3-0 advantage on goals from Tyler Sloan, Morrison and Brian Pothier.
Florida’s Nathan Horton scored while Morrison was in the box to shrink the lead to 3-1. Just over a minute later, Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding, giving the Panthers a golden opportunity to get back in the game against a drastically undermanned Capitals defense and a Washington team that had allowed more goals after the start of the third period than any other team in the league this season.
This time, though, the Capitals kept it together and preserved the victory for goaltender Jose Theodore. Washington’s penalty killers held Florida without as much as a shot on goal for the entire five minutes of the Panthers’ power play. Morrison added his second goal of the night into an empty net, and the Caps winless streak and the Cats’ winning streak (three games) both came to an end.
The two teams meet again on Saturday night in Washington.
Blueline Blues – By game’s end, the Washington blueline corps was battered and beaten. Mike Green, who ranks among the league’s top five in average ice time per night, was injured while attempting to deliver a neutral zone bodycheck early in the game. Green took just four shifts and skated just 2:44 on the night.
Defenseman Jeff Schultz left the game after taking 10 shifts for a total of 7:27. Sloan, who started the game as the left winger on the Caps’ fourth line, was shifted back to his natural defense position after Schultz left the game. But Sloan himself suffered an injury in the third period. He left the bench but came back when Morrisonn was ejected.
With all the injuries to Caps defensemen, others had to step up and fill the breach in terms of ice time. Tom Poti logged 28:42, Pothier skated 25:20 and Milan Jurcina played 23:12. Each of the three rearguards skated his single-game high for the season in Friday’s game.
The last time Jurcina played more than that was on Nov. 28, 2008 when he logged 23:39 against Montreal. The last time Pothier saw more ice was when he played 27:08 against Vancouver on Oct. 26, 2007 in one of Glen Hanlon’s final games as the Caps’ head coach.
Green has an upper body injury. Schultz has a lower body injury. And Morrisonn could be subject to disciplinary review. He was also handed a boarding major and a game misconduct late in the third period of a 3-1 Washington win over the Panthers at Verizon Center on Feb. 7 of this year.
Three for Two – In addition to netting his first goal of the season, Pothier also contributed a pair of helpers for a three-point night. That matched his single-game career best, established on Oct. 7, 2006 when he had three assists in Washington’s home opener against Carolina, his second game as a Capital.
First Alert – For the second straight game, Sloan has opened the game’s scoring with a goal in a road game. All three of his career goals have come on the road.
More than 12 months elapsed between Sloan’s first NHL goal and his second, but only two days passed between his second and third NHL tallies.
Familiar Final – Three of Washington’s best games this season have been 4-1 victories. The Caps beat the Bruins in Boston by that score in the season opener, and they downed San Jose at the Phone Booth by a 4-1 count on Oct. 15.
Eleven of Washington’s 16 games have been decided by a single goal.
Class of ‘04 Ailing – Each of Washington’s top three picks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft is currently ailing to some degree. Alex Ovechkin (first overall) is week-to-week with an upper body injury. Schultz (27th overall) and Green (29th overall) are both day-to-day.
By The Numbers – David Steckel won nine of 11 face-offs (82%) … Morrisonn paced the Caps with five hits.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears continued their busy stretch of hockey when they visited Portland on Friday night, two nights after a 5-2 win at Lowell to begin a stretch of four games in five nights on the road.
The results weren’t nearly as good as they were in Lowell on Wednesday. Hershey absorbed a 5-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Pirates on Friday.
With Jason Bacashihua in goal for the Bears, Portland scored twice on 10 shots in the first and three times on a dozen shots in the third period. Bacashihua stopped 22 of 27 shots on the night. Forwards Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux were both minus-3 on the night for the Bears.
The loss dropped the Bears to 8-5 on the season. Hershey remains in the top spot in the AHL’s East Division. The Bears play in Manchester on Saturday and in Providence on Sunday.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays earned a 2-1 win over the Nailers in Wheeling on Friday. Gregg Johnson and Nikita Kashirsky scored to support Todd Ford in goal. Ford stopped 27 of 28 shots.
The Rays are 4-2-1-1, good for second in the ECHL’s South Division. South Carolina is also playing three games on the road in three nights this weekend. The Stingrays are at Reading on Saturday and Sunday.
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