Wild One – In a contest that threatened to be longer than an American League baseball game, the Caps forged a 5-4 shootout win over the plucky New York Islanders. The win was Washington’s third in succession, and it was the third straight overtime game between Washington and New York, the fifth in the last six meetings between the two teams.
The fireworks started early in this one.
Washington’s Alexander Semin struck just eight seconds in, taking a feed from Brendan Morrison and beating Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson high to the glove side. But the Caps’ early lead lasted less than a minute.
Matt Moulson scored at 1:02 of the first as both teams lit the red light with their first shots of the night. The Isles followed with two more in fairly short order, chasing Washington starter Jose Theodore to the bench at 6:54 of the first. New York had dented Theodore for three goals on just five shots in taking a 3-1 lead.
“I don’t like to do that,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of pulling Theodore, “especially so early. He looked a little rattled and he looked a little down. It’s not like pulling him when the game is out of reach, we had so much time left. The last time he was pulled [Semyon Varlamov] came in and shut the door, so I thought he could do it again.
“Theo has played so well for us and he had a rough outing and he’ll come back this week and play another game and he’ll be great for us.”
With Varlamov on in relief of Theodore, he Caps fought back gamely, getting a first-period power play goal from Tomas Fleischmann, his sixth strike in seven games.
Semin notched his second of the game on a power play at 5:35 of the second, and Eric Fehr put the Caps ahead late in the middle frame when his attempted backhand centering pass for Mathieu Perreault found the back of the net instead.
Fehr became the 10th different Capital to score at least one goal in the four games since left wing Alex Ovechkin has been sidelined with an upper body injury.
Washington played penalty-free hockey for the first 40 minutes, but was whistled for three minors in the third period. The Caps killed the first two, but Milan Jurcina’s questionable boarding call at 17:14 came just four seconds after the Capitals had completed the kill of David Steckel’s holding violation.
New York’s Trent Hunter – returning to action after missing 15 games with a torn pectoral muscle – drew the Isles even with a laser of a shot that blazed past Varlamov’s glove hand.
A five-minute overtime failed to settle matters, so a long, drawn out, sad and somewhat comical shootout followed. For a while, it looked like the Islanders might miss their flight out of town, but Caps captain Chris Clark finally put an end to the mess when he tucked one under the crossbar.
Eighteen – Tonight’s game marked the 18th straight game in which Washington has scored two or more goals in a game. It is the Capitals’ longest such streak since the team ended the 1993-94 season by scoring two or more times in 24 straight contests.
Hardhat – Varlamov was adorned with the hardhat after the game, a well-deserved token of his night’s work. He stopped 25 of 26 shots he faced during regulation and overtime, and came within 2:08 of backstopping the Caps to a regulation triumph. Varlamov then stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced during the one-on-one competition.
Entering tonight’s game, Varlamov sported an unsightly 5.04 third-period GAA for the season, fifth highest among all NHL goaltenders. He stopped nine of 10 in the third tonight, and it took a hell of a shot from Hunter to beat him.
Helping Hands – In addition to wiring a rocket of a wrist shot for the deciding goal in the shootout – the first shootout goal of his NHL career – Clark collected an assist on Eric Fehr’s third-period goal. The helper gives Clark a four-game assist streak, the longest such run of his NHL career. Clark has five assists in his last six games.
Two Down – Entering Wednesday’s game, the Caps had trailed by two goals only three times all season and for a combined time span of just 7:10. Tonight, the Caps trailed by two for a total of 6:48 before Fleischmann’s goal brought them to within one.
First Faults – Coming into tonight’s game against the Islanders, the Caps had outscored the opposition by a combined 20-6 in the first period of their first 17 games of the season. At plus-14, the Capitals held the biggest first-period goal differential in the league.
Washington got off to a swift start on Semin’s early goal, but then got nicked for three first period goals in a span of just 5:52. After giving up six goals in 340 first-period minutes this season, the Caps have up half that amount in a span of just 6:54 to the Islanders on Wednesday.
Quick Strike – The Caps have scored the game’s first goal in 15 of 18 games this season and they’ve done so in each of the last seven contests. Washington has scored at least one goal in the first period in 15 of 18 games.
Multiple Men – Semin had his third two-goal game of the season and his first since Oct. 6 at Philadelphia.
Seven different Capitals have combined for 16 multiple-goal games in the season’s first 18 contests. Ovechkin leads the way with six. Semin has three. Brooks Laich and Fleischmann each have two while Nicklas Backstrom, Brendan Morrison and Mike Knuble each have one.
Quick Start – Semin’s goal at the eight-second mark matched the franchise record for fastest goal at the start of a game, established by the late Gaetan Duchesne on March 14, 1987 against the St. Louis Blues.
Not Tonight – Theodore entered tonight’s game with a 1.98 career goals against average against the Islanders, second only to Martin Biron (1.93) among active netminders against the Fishermen. Theodore’s 15 career wins are third among actives, trailing only Martin Brodeur (41) and Biron (20).
First To Four – The Caps became the first team in the last 10 games to score more than three goals in a game against the Islanders.
Happy Birthday – To Hockey Hall of Famer Harry Lumley, born on this date in 1926. And happy birthday to Colorado Avalanche assistant coach and former Capital Steve Konowalchuk, born on this date in 1972.
By The Numbers – Semin led Washington with 11 shots on goal … Quintin Laing and Mathieu Perreault were the only Washington skaters not to record a shot on goal in the game … The Caps scored multiple power play goals for the fourth time this season. They are 3-0-1 in games in which they score more than one goal with the extra man.
Down On The Farm – The ECHL South Carolina Stingrays spotted the home-standing Trenton Devils a 2-0 first period lead before roaring back for six unanswered strikes – including four in the second frame – on Wednesday night. The Rays rolled to a 6-3 win.
Gregg Johnson scored twice and Caps blueline prospect Josh Godfrey had an assist and was plus-2. Todd Ford made 23 saves in the South Carolina goal to earn the win.
At 7-2-1-2, the Stingrays are in first place in the ECHL’s South Division.
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI
3 - 1 NYI
3 - 2 NYI
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 WSH