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game recap

Postgame Notebook: Capitals 4, Devils 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:48 AM

Mike Vogel  - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer

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Postgame Notebook: Capitals 4, Devils 1
New Jersey Devils 1, Washington Capitals 4
Three Is The Key – Tonight marked the fourth time this season the Caps and Devils went head-to-head. It marked the fourth time in those four games that Washington scored the game’s first goal, and it marked the third time in those four games that the Capitals scored the game’s first two goals.

Saturday’s regular season finale between the Caps and Devils also marked the first time in the four games that Washington skated off with the win. The Capitals downed the Devils 4-1 to move a point ahead of New Jersey for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Washington played well for all 60 minutes and played well in all three zones of the ice.

Alex Ovechkin staked the Caps to a 1-0 lead at 4:09 of the first on Saturday, and Matt Bradley’s seventh of the season made it 2-0 for Washington at 13:54. New Jersey’s fourth line halved that lead late in the first when Rod Pelley netted his second of the season, and the Devils had ample opportunity to draw even when they benefited from the game’s first four power play chances beginning with a holding call to Washington’s Shaone Morrisonn in the final minute of the first.

Washington’s penalty killing corps stood tall on this night, stunting a Devils extra-man unit that the entered the game with the circuit’s fourth-best road power play numbers (25.9%).

Nicklas Backstrom’s goal at 9:52 of the second made it 3-1 Caps and afforded the home team some breathing room. It marked the first time in four games with the Devils this season that Washington was able to dent venerable New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur for as many as three goals in a contest.

Mike Green salted it away for good when he netted his eighth of the season in the first minute of the third period.

“I think we played great but in the third period we let them skate and control the puck more,” says Ovechkin. “It was good when we scored the third goal. It was an important goal and Greenie scored right away [in the third] and we just enjoyed our game.”

The victory enabled the Caps to finish their season series against New Jersey with a 1-2-1 mark.

“Last time we played against [them], they outworked us and won 5-2,” recalls Backstrom. “It’s very important at home. It’s always big games at home and we have to keep going. Everyone knows the Devils are a good team and maybe it’s a good thing to show.”

Washington is now 23-2-4 in games in which it scores three or more goals this season. It also knows it can beat the Devils.

“You sure realize,” begins Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau, “after the teams we’ve played, taking nothing away from them, how elite this team [the Devils] was. In the first six minutes, I was going, ‘Whoa, you can’t  make a mistake at all against them.’ They are so fast, they move the puck and they work hard.

“I think we played a complete game. I thought early in the third period we started to sit back a little bit too much, but then we went back at them and took it to them in the last half of the third. I thought it was a great effort on our part.”

Three Straight – With a goal and two assists, Ovechkin notched his third successive three-point night. Ovechkin started the 2009-10 season with three straight three-point efforts.

With a plus-3 on the night, Ovechkin moves to a league-leading plus-21 on the season. He ranks second in the league with 25 goals (one behind the Rangers’ Marian Gaborik) and is tied for third in the league’s scoring race with 47 points (four behind San Jose’s Joe Thornton).

Three In A Row – Rookie Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth started his third game in succession and won his third game in succession, doing both for the first time in his NHL career. Neuvirth made 29 saves in besting Brodeur, whose 36 wins against Washington are the most ever for any netminder against the Caps. Philly’s Ron Hextall is second on that list with 27.

“I’m feeling unbelievable right now,” says Neuvirth. “I just beat the best goalie in the world, so it’s amazing. I used to watch him on TV, so it was something special, but it was just a regular game and obviously I want to win. I want to beat him.”

Neuvirth is now 3-2 on the season with a 2.82 GAA and a .907 save pct.

Three Straight – With a goal and two assists, Ovechkin notched his third successive three-point night. Ovechkin started the 2009-10 season with three straight three-point efforts.

With a plus-3 on the night, Ovechkin moves to a league-leading plus-21 on the season. He ranks second in the league with 25 goals (one behind the Rangers’ Marian Gaborik) and is tied for third in the league’s scoring race with 47 points (four behind San Jose’s Joe Thornton).  

Three Kings – The Caps, the AHL Hershey Bears and the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays all currently own the best records in their respective leagues.

First Blood – The Caps scored two first-period goals for the fifth time in their last six games. Washington has outscored the opposition by a combined 49-19 in the first period of its 38 games this season.

Nine for No. 8 – Ovechkin’s goal opened the scoring in the game, marking the ninth time he has done so this season. He leads the league in scoring the game’s first goal.

Ovechkin now has a dozen first-period goals this season. He also leads the league in that department.

Long Time Coming – Ovechin’s goal against Brodeur was his first against the New Jersey netminder in nearly four years. Ovi’s previous strike against Brodeur came on Dec. 28, 2005, midway through the left wing’s rookie NHL season.

200 Club – With his assist on Ovechkin’s first-period goal, Backstrom recorded the 200th point of his NHL career. Backstrom becomes one of just 11 NHL players to record 200 or more points since the start of the 2007-08 season. He has more points than any other player chosen in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and reached the 200-point plateau before any other 2006 draftee reached 150 career points.

Backstrom added a goal and another helper later on in Saturday’s game. He now has 202 career points in 202 career games, reaching the point-per-game level for the first time since he had two points in the first two games of his NHL career.

White Hot – Backstrom’s goal was his ninth in December. Only Florida’s Stephen Weiss (10) has scored more goals this month. Backstrom has 11 goals and 11 assists in his last 13 games.

Back In The Fold – Washington announced that it has re-signed winger Alexander Semin to a one-year contract extension for the 2010-11 season. That extension will take the 25-year-old Semin through the final year of his restricted free agent status.

Streaking – Washington’s win extended its home winning streak to five straight games – its longest home ice winning streak of the season – and ended the Devils’ road winning streak at four. It also snapped New Jersey’s overall winning streak at five games.

Junior Achievement – Washington is well represented at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship. Four Capitals prospects from four different countries are playing in the tournament, which opened today in Regina and Saskatoon.

All four found their way onto the scoresheet in Saturday’s tournament-opening action.

Two of the Caps’ participants are from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and two are from the 2009 draft. From the class of 2008, defenseman John Carlson is serving as an alternate captain for Team USA. He recorded a goal and an assist in Team USA’s 7-3 win over Slovakia. Also from the class of 2008 is forward Stefan Della Rovere from Team Canada. Della Rovere chipped in with a pair of assists in Team Canada’s 16-0 rout of Latvia on Saturday.

From the 2009 group, first-rounder Marcus Johansson is serving as captain of the Team Sweden entry. He earned an assist in his team’s 10-1 pummeling of the Czech Republic on Saturday. Second-rounder Dmitry Orlov picked up a pair of assists for Team Russia in his team’s 6-2 win over Austria in the first day of the WJC tournament.

This Date In NHL History – Ex-Caps defenseman Mark Tinordi notched the first goal of his NHL career on this day in 1987 while playing for the New York Rangers at New Jersey.

Happy Birthday – To Hockey Hall of Famer Norm Ullman, born on this day in 1935.

By The Numbers – David Steckel was a perfect 8-for-8 in the face-off circle in the first period of play … Quintin Laing led the Caps with three first-period hits. He delivered those body blows in 3:43 of ice time scattered over five shifts … The Caps fired 33 shots on Brodeur in the first two periods. Coming into Saturday’s game, New Jersey was the second stingiest team in the league, allowing an average of just 27.1 shots per game … John Erskine paced the Caps with four blocked shots on the night.

Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears opened the weekend with a Saturday night skirmish against the Syracuse Crunch at Giant Center. Like the parent Capitals, Hershey earned a 4-1 home ice win.

After a scoreless first, Kyle Wilson scored his 10th of the season at 4:20 of the second to stake Hershey to a 1-0 lead. Boyd Gordon – spending the weekend in Hershey on an injury rehab assignment – and Zach Miskovic supplied the assists. Mathieu Perreault scored his third of the campaign late in the middle frame to push the lead to 2-0. Chris Bourque and Francois Bouchard collected the helpers.

Bouchard netted his ninth of the season from Bourque and Perreault at 7:30 of the third to widen the margin to 3-0. With help from Patrick McNeill and Wilson, Perreault scored his second of the night on a Bears power play at 15:55 of the third.

Bears goaltender Braden Holtby lost his shutout bid when Syracuse’s Trevor Frischmon scored with 3:06 remaining. Holtby made 33 saves on the night and was named the game’s No. 1 star. Holtby is now 6-1-1 with a 1.24 GAA and a .955 save pct. with the Bears this season.

The victory was the Bears’ fifth in a row. With the win, the Bears have opened up a seven-point lead in the AHL’s East Division standings.

Hershey hosts Norfolk at Giant Center on Sunday afternoon.

Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays started their weekend on the road, facing the Gwinnett Gladiators on Saturday night.

South Carolina spotted the home-standing Gladiators a 3-0 lead in the first 34 minutes of the game, but the Stingrays then roared back to score four unanswered goals in taking a 4-3 decision over Gwinnett.

Matt Fornataro scored twice and Spencer Carbery and Trent Campbell added single tallies for the Stingrays to support the 35-save efforts of Todd Ford (16-5-0-1) in the South Carolina nets.

The victory moves the Stingrays 16 points ahead of second-place Charlotte and Florida in the ECHL’s South Division standings.

The Stingrays return home on Sunday when they will host the Charlotte Checkers at North Charleston Coliseum.
scoring summary
1st Period
04:09
WSH
Alex Ovechkin (25) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (29)
1 - 0 WSH
13:54
WSH
Matt Bradley (7) ASST: David Steckel (3), Karl Alzner (4)
2 - 0 WSH
17:18
NJD
Rod Pelley (2) ASST: Ilkka Pikkarainen (3)
2 - 1 WSH
2nd Period
09:52
WSH
Nicklas Backstrom (15) ASST: Alexander Semin (18), Alex Ovechkin (21)
3 - 1 WSH
3rd Period
00:39
WSH
Mike Green (8) ASST: Alex Ovechkin (22), Nicklas Backstrom (30)
4 - 1 WSH
penalty summary
1st Period
19:05
WSH
Shaone Morrisonn  Holding against  Dean McAmmond
2nd Period
02:51
WSH
Jeff Schultz  Tripping against  Brian Rolston
11:42
WSH
Milan Jurcina  Holding against  Vladimir Zharkov
14:17
WSH
Alexander Semin  Hooking against  Colin White
17:31
NJD
Jamie Langenbrunner  Tripping against  Alex Ovechkin
18:31
NJD
Andy Greene  Hooking against  Mike Green
3rd Period
NONE
goalie stats
Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur
23-9-1
SA: 40TOI: 60:00
Saves: 36EV: 27 - 31
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .900SH: 5 - 5
Michal Neuvirth
SA: 30TOI: 59:37
Saves: 29EV: 24 - 25
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 5
SV%: .967SH: 0 - 0