Spark Plug – Mathieu Perreault had just four shifts totaling 2:02 in the second period of Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers. So when he took the ice for his first shift of the third period, he was fresh.
“I had a lot of energy when I stepped on the ice,” says the rookie Caps pivot. “I felt I had a lot of legs because I was on the bench for a little while. So it was good, I felt good on the ice in the third period.”
Perreault was pesky behind the Florida net, preventing the Panthers from making a play to get the puck out of their end. He chipped the puck away, bounced it off the back of the cage, retrieved it and reached around to the front and tried to jam the puck through Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen.
That unassisted goal – the first of Perreault’s NHL career – evened the score at 3-3 just 2:21 into the final frame, and sparked a five-goal third period outburst (five goals in a span of 11:17) that propelled Washington to a 7-4 win over the Panthers.
In addition to his first NHL goal, Perreault was the recipient of the hardhat given to the player whose work ethic was exemplary and instrumental in a Washington win. He also got a lavish shaving cream pie in the locker room after the game.
In his first three NHL games, Perreault has picked up a goal and two assists and is plus-3 while skating just 11:24 a night.
Fast Firsts – The Caps led 1-0 after the first period of Saturday’s game, and they have now outscored the opposition by a combined 20-6 in the first period of their 17 games this season.
Only Calgary (22) has scored more first-period goals than the Caps this season and only Philadelphia (five) has surrendered fewer in the first frame than Washington in 2009-10.
It Takes A Village – The Caps are now 2-1 in three games since superstar left wing Alex Ovechkin was sidelined with an upper body strain. Several players have stepped up to contribute in Ovechkin’s absence.
Eight different players have scored for Washington in the three games and eight different players have recorded at least three points in that span.
Getting Better Without the Best – The Caps went 1-3 and were outscored by a combined total of 15-7 in the four games Ovechkin missed during the first four seasons of his NHL career.
Ovi has missed three games this season during which the Caps are 2-1. Washington has outscored the opposition by a combined 13-8 in those games.
Knuble’s multiple-goal game is the 15th by a Capital in 17 games. Ovechkin leads the way with six. Laich, Semin and Fleischmann each have two while Backstrom, Morrison and Knuble each have one.
Scoring Spread – Only five of Washington’s 18 skaters failed to record a point in Saturday’s game and only two forwards (Semin and David Steckel) were held off the scoresheet.
“Matty [Mathieu Perreault] got us going with a big goal in the third period,” says Laich of Saturday’s win. “And then [Quintin] Laing follows it up. I thought the Bradley-[David] Steckel-Laing line was due to score the way they played all night, just getting pucks to the net. Stecks was around the net all night. They just kept going and got another big goal. It’s a cliché, but it was a good team effort and it’s nice to see the scoring spread around.”
Like Old Times – Knuble’s first goal of the night has his first this season that included an assist from Morrison, his old college linemate at University of Michigan. Knuble and Morrison also played together for Linkoping in the Swedish elite League during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
4-on-4 Woes – The Caps allowed another 4-on-4 goal in Saturday’s game, the fifth such goal Washington has allowed this season. The Capitals are being outscored 5-1 in 4-on-4 situations this season.
Washington only allowed eight 4-on-4 goals in the entire 2008-09 season.
Young Guns Depleted – Saturday’s game against the Panthers marked the first time since Apr. 4, 2004 that both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green were not in the lineup for Washington. That game was the season finale of the 2003-04 campaign, and it was played nearly three months before the Caps chose both Ovechkin and Green in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, one or both of Ovechkin and Green had been in the Caps lineup every night, until tonight.
Tough Start – Clemmensen entered Saturday night’s game with a 4.25 GAA, fourth highest in NHL. His .866 save pct. was fifth worst. After getting raked for seven goals on 32 shots in Saturday’s game, Clemmensen’s GAA has risen to 5.13 and his save pct. has plummeted to .838.
Bonanza in the Second – Heading into Saturday night’s game with the Capitals, the Panthers had been outscored 15-8 in the second period of games this season. The Cats started to reverse that tide against Washington, outscoring the hosts 3-1 in the middle frame of Saturday’s game.
Florida Firsts – Nineteen-year-old defenseman Dmitry Kulikov scored the first goal of his NHL career in Saturday’s game, beating goalie Jose Theodore. Florida rookies Victor Oreskovich and Kenndal McArdle picked up their first-ever NHL assists in Saturday’s game.
On This Date in NHL History – Hockey Hall of Famer Alex Delvecchio notched the first goal of his long and illustrious NHL career on this date in 1951 for the Detroit Red Wings against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
And future Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer scored his first NHL goal on this date in 1992 for the New Jersey Devils in a game against the Sharks in San Jose.
By The Numbers – Saturday’s seven-goal output was the most by Washington this season. The Caps had two seven-goal efforts last season, both times in 7-4 victories … The two clubs combined for 64 hits (34 for Washington and 30 for Florida) … Laing had four shots on goal and four hits in 12:24 of work … Tom Poti (24:34) was the only Capital to skate more than 20 minutes in Saturday night’s game … Perreault’s 10:30 was at the other end of the ice time spectrum … The Caps had 32 shots on goal and 35 bids that did not reach their target. The Panthers blocked 23 Washington shot tries and the Caps missed the net a dozen times.
Down On The Farm – Hershey’s busy week (four games in five nights) and weekend (three games in three nights) continued when the Bears visited the Monarchs in Manchester on Saturday. A night after a 5-0 loss in Portland, Hershey rebounded for a 4-1 win over the Monarchs.
The Bears drew first blood when defenseman Zach Miscovic netted his first professional goal at 14:54 of the first with help from Keith Aucoin and Boyd Kane.
Jay Beagle scored his second of the season at 2:30 of the middle frame to push the Bears’ advantage to 2-0, with Oskar Osala collecting the lone assist. Osala notched a goal of his own – his fourth of the season – at 14:28 of the second with Darren Reid and Sean Collins assisting.
Francois Bouchard tallied his fourth of the season at 4:26 of the third to give the Bears a commanding 4-0 lead. Andrew Gordon and Kyle Wilson collected assists on that one.
Manchester’s Oscar Moller spoiled the shutout bid of Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth, but the Bears goalie made 28 saves to earn the win.
Osala was the game’s first star, Miskovic the second and Neuvirth the third.
With a 9-5 mark, the Bears hold a three-point advantage over Albany in the AHL’s East Division standings. Hershey concludes its busy run tomorrow when it visits the Baby Bruins in Providence.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays are also playing three games in three nights this weekend. One night after taking a 2-1 decision from the Nailers in Wheeling, the Stingrays journeyed to Reading for the first of two games in two nights against the Royals. The Rays made it a clean sweep Saturday night for the Caps organization with a 3-1 win in Reading.
Matt Scherer, Zach Tarkir and Gregg Johnson supplied the offense to support Braden Holtby’s 27-save efforts in the South Carolina nets. Holtby is now 2-1-1 with South Carolina this year. He was 2-1 in an earlier stint with Hershey this season.