Two Points – For the 26th time in as many games, the Capitals enjoyed a lead in Saturday night’s game against the Canadiens at Bell Centre. They also led for the 25th time in 26 games in the second period or later. And although they coughed up a 2-0 lead for the fourth time this season, the Caps managed to put on their work boots and get two points out of this one when it was all said and done.
Washington downed the Habs in the shootout, 4-3.
The Caps scored twice on their first three shots of the game to take an early 2-0 lead. Canadiens coach Jacques Martin spent his timeout midway through the first after Alex Ovechkin’s 18th goal gave the Caps a 2-0 advantage. Montreal settled down nicely thereafter.
The Canadiens clawed their way back, getting two goals in the second and another early in the third – two of the three on the power play – to take a 3-2 lead. The Habs continually stifled the Caps, getting some key saves from goalie Carey Price, some strong defensive play and some timely shot blocks.
“They obviously played well,” says Caps winger Matt Bradley, “but we started strong in the first. For whatever reason, we’re not playing a full 60 minutes. Against any team you can’t do that. They played a great game, especially in the second half, and we were lucky to get out of it with the win.
Eight days ago, the Canadiens managed to nurse a third-period lead to a 3-2 win over the Caps at Verizon Center. They were unable to do so tonight. Often skating with four forwards on the ice in an effort to get the equalizer, the Caps came to life late, and they evened the score on Eric Fehr’s power play goal in the waning seconds of regulation.
The goal, Fehr’s second of the night, came while Caps goaltender Semyon Varlamov was on the bench in favor of an extra skater and while Montreal defenseman Paul Mara was in the penalty box for high-sticking Brooks Laich. Washington needed less than four seconds after Mara was seated to score its 6-on-4 goal.
“We just started being cute after the 10-minute mark [of the first period],” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “We get the puck in the zone and we tried to make three passes before we shot the puck. What I was screaming at the most was, ‘Let’s get shots on the net and let’s go to the net.’ That opens up the plays.
“In the overtime you saw we were going to the net and then all of a sudden that opened up [Tomas] Fleischmann for a one-timer with Mike Green and he just missed the net, or the game was over. But the shot is the thing that opens everything up. It’s the same on the power play. You shoot the puck, then it opens up plays.”
The Caps are now 2-1-1 in the games in which they’ve given up a 2-0 lead. Both of those victories have come via the shootout route.
“We got two points on the road and you can’t be disappointed in that,” says Fehr of Saturday’s win. “But at the same time, we’ve got to be a little bit better and make sure we play a full 60 minutes, which we haven’t done in a while.”
Two Guys – Ovechkin and Fehr have scored all of Washington’s five goals in the team’s last two games, both victories. With a goal and an assist in Saturday’s game against the Habs, Ovechkin notched his first multiple-point game since Oct. 30 against the New York Islanders.
Fehr now has six goals and nine points in his last dozen games. He notched the first two-goal game of his NHL career and scored his first power play goal since Dec. 4, 2008 against the Islanders. It was the second power-play goal of Fehr’s NHL career. Fehr’s most recent two-goal game came on Jan. 6, 2007 as a member of the AHL’s Hershey Bears against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Fehr skated 17:13 on Saturday, the most ice he has seen in any of the 124 games of his NHL career.
Fast Firsts – Once again, the Caps outscored the opposition in the first. Washington ended the first stanza of Saturday’s game with a 2-0 lead. The Caps have now outscored the opposition by a 32-12 margin in the first period of their 26 games this season.
Bunches – From the time they took a two-goal lead in the game midway through the first until there were less than two minutes remaining in regulation, the Capitals managed just 10 shots on Montreal goaltender Carey Price in a span of 48:21. The Caps had several strong chances during that span, but were unable to finish.
Washington had 10 more shots in the final 1:39 of regulation and overtime combined, a span of just 6:39.
Sub 30 – The Caps have managed fewer than 30 shots on goal in three straight games. It has been more than a year since the last time that happened. Washington had fewer than 30 shots on goal in three straight games from Nov. 20-24, 2008.
Taking It Easy – Saturday’s game marked the 11th straight game in which Washington has had four or fewer power plays and has faced four or fewer power plays in a game.
First One On is In – Ovechkin started the game by misfiring on his first five attempts. Three were blocked and two more missed the net. The sixth try might have been headed wide, but Price attempted to make the save and it clicked in off his blocker.
Minute Men – Montreal had eight players (four forwards and four defensemen) and Washington had six (three forwards and three defensemen) who logged more than 20 minutes for their respective, injury-riddled teams on Saturday.
Mike Cammalleri paced Habs forwards with 26:17 in ice time and Roman Hamrlik (25:07) led the Canadiens’ blueliners. Ovechkin’s 25:32 was the most among Washington forwards while Green’s 27:37 led the defense.
Dynamic Duo – Whomever is in charge of choosing the Czech Republic entry for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver may want to give some thought to taking veteran Habs defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Roman Hamrlik as a tandem. That twosome has been effective at neutralizing Ovechkin and his linemates in the last two meetings between the Capitals and Canadiens.
In two games against the Caps this season, the tandem of Spacek and Hamrlik has combined for a goal, four assists, a whopping 17 blocked shots and a plus-2 defensive rating.
Russian Royalty – Legendary Russian goaltender and Hockey Hall of Famer Vladislav Tretiak was in attendance at Saturday’s game. Tretiak is among those tasked with choosing the Russian team for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Although he never played in the NHL or in North America during his long and distinguished playing career, Tretiak was a seventh round (138th overall) choice of Montreal’s in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. Turns out the Habs didn’t have mush use for Tretiak, who was in his thirties when drafted. The Canadiens drafted a fellow by the name of Patrick Roy in third round (51st overall) in the draft the following summer.
This Day In NHL History – Two Hockey Hall of Famers and a longtime NHL blueliner who was – ever so briefly – a Capital scored their first NHL goals on this date.
Longtime Montreal Canadiens great Yvan Cournoyer notched the first of his 428 career goals, scoring against the Red Wings in Detroit on this day in 1963. Fellow Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler netted the first of his 484 career goals on this day in 1970, scoring for Toronto against Detroit at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Defenseman Rod Seiling played 979 games in the league from 1962-79, toiling for five different teams. He played one of those games with the Capitals during the team’s inaugural 1974-75 season. Seling scored the first of his 62 career NHL goals on this day in 1964 while playing for the Rangers at Toronto.
By The Numbers – Ovechkin registered Washington’s only blocked shot of the first period. The Caps blocked nine shots in the second. Backstrom led the way with three … The Caps had four first-period shots on goal; eight more tries were blocked and five missed the mark altogether. Ovechkin accounted for seven of those 17 shot tries … On the night, Ovechkin took almost a third (17 of 57) of Washington’s shot tries. Eight went on goal, eight were blocked and one missed the mark … Alexandre Giroux logged 14:36 on Saturday night, the most ice he has seen in his 26-game NHL career.
Down On The Farm – A night after a 5-2 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls, N.Y., the Hershey Bears and the Phantoms bused back to central Pennsylvania for a Saturday night rematch. The Phantoms took this one in a shootout, 5-4.
Hershey’s Michael Dubuc got the Bears started on the right foot. He scored his second AHL goal and his second in as many nights at the 58-second mark of the first period with a single assist from defenseman Zach Miskovic.
Adirondack’s Stefan Legein evened things up a few minutes later, but Darren Reid’s power-play goal at 11:22 of the first – his sixth goal of the season – restored the Bears’ one-goal advantage. Miskovic and Dubuc earned the assists.
The Phantoms scored the game’s next two goals to take a 3-2 lead, but Kyle Wilson’s sixth of the season evened things up early in the third. Miskovic picked up his third primary helper of the night, and Francois Bouchard also assisted. The Bears went back in front on Andrew Gordon’s 10th goal of the season at 5:08 of the final frame. Patrick McNeill collected the lone assist.
The Bears were unable to hold on to that slim advantage. Adirondack’s David Laliberte scored with 36 seconds left to force overtime. Bouchard scored the only Bears’ goal in the shootout, and Hershey’s record fell to
Jason Bacashihua made 25 saves for the Bears in a losing effort.
The Bears host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday at Giant Center. It will be Hershey’s fourth game in five nights. At 14-6-0-2 on the season, the Bears hold a five-point advantage on second-place Binghamton and Albany in the AHL’s East Division standings.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays spent their Saturday night facing the Walleye in Toledo. Things did not start well for the defending Kelly Cup champs.
Toledo scored the game’s first three goals to take a 3-0 lead by 3:41 of the second period. But South Carolina responded quickly after that third Toledo tally. Just six seconds after Toledo’s third goal, the Rays’ Dain Prewitt scored with help from Nate Kiser and Jake Hauswirth.
The Stingrays went into the third trailing by a pair, but they struck quickly. Rob Ricci scored his eighth of the season at 2:07 and Matt Fornatero also scored his eighth of the campaign just 53 seconds later to even it up at 3-3.
Caps blueline prospect Josh Godfrey scored South Carolina’s fourth goal in succession at 13:44 of the third, a power play marker that put the Stingrays ahead for the first time. Spencer Carbery finished the scoring with an empty-netter as South Carolina came back for an impressive 5-3 win. Todd Ford made 36 saves to earn the win.
The Stingrays will stay in town to take on Toledo again on Sunday.
At 12-6-1-3, the Stingrays boast the best record in the ECHL’s American Conference. South Carolina holds a five-point lead in the South Division over the Florida Everblades.