Fourteen – The No. 14 was prominent for the Capitals in their first home game of calendar 2010 and their first game of the second half of the 2009-10. On the night in which Alex Ovechkin was named the 14th captain in franchise history, No. 14 Tomas Fleischmann led the way offensively in his first night at a new position.
The results were positive. The Caps came away with a 4-2 win.
For the first time in the last four games, the Caps came out and played a solid first period of hockey. Not coincidentally, they also won for the first time in the last four games.
Washington dominated territorially in a scoreless first frame, outshooting the Habs 11-3. Fleischmann got the Caps’ offense started with his 15th goal of the season on a power play at 5:14 of the second. Montreal tied it up on a Josh Gorges floater from the point that deflected past Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth at 14:03 of the middle frame, but the score would not remain knotted for long.
Eric Fehr caromed a shot off the boot blade of Habs defender Hal Gill to regain the lead for Washington at 15:45, and then Alexander Semin struck for his 15th of the season just 36 seconds after Fehr’s goal.
Montreal pulled to within one on Benoit Pouliot’s power play goal in the third, but Fleischmann and Semin combined on a late insurance tally to give the Caps some breathing room. Their initial try on a 2-on-1 break failed to produce fruit, but Fleischmann recovered the puck and fed it to Semin, who rifled home one of his patented snapshots from the slot.
Special Stuff – Montreal came into tonight’s contest with the league’s top-ranked power play at 24.8%. Washington stood second in the league’s extra-man standings with a 23.5% efficiency rate.
Both teams helped their percentages tonight as the Habs went 1-for-3 and the Caps 1-for-4 with the extra man.
Tonight’s game was won at even-strength, where Washington outshot Montreal 36-19 and outscored the Habs 3-1.
Halt – Washington’s three-game losing streak came to a stop tonight. The Caps have never lost more than three straight regulation games in the 185 games since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the Washington bench on Nov. 22, 2007.
“Always nice to win,” says Boudreau, “makes you feel so much better. It’s easier to talk to you guys [the media]. You go home and you sleep better, that’s for sure.”
Middle Man – Fleischmann was outstanding in his first NHL game as a pivot. He had a goal and two helpers, was a plus-2, had three takeaways and a blocked shot and was 6-for-9 (67%) in the face-off circle. It’s safe to say you’ll see him in the middle on Thursday night when the Ottawa Senators come calling to Verizon Center.
“I thought he played a really good game,” says Boudreau of Fleischmann. “Whether it was on the wing or in the middle, I thought he competed so hard tonight. His positioning was really good, I thought, for a guy that hadn’t played center.”
Double Digit Dudes – Eric Fehr’s goal late in the second period of Tuesday’s game was his 10th of the season, making him the eighth Cap to reach the double-digit level in goals this season. The Capitals have more players with 10 or more goals than every other team in the league.
Fehr has four goals in three games against Montreal this season.
Multiple Men – Semin’s two-goal night was his sixth such effort of the season. Nine different Capitals have now combined for 28 two-goal games in the team’s 42 games this season, but no Cap has managed a hat trick yet.
Neuvy’s Night – Starting for the sixth time in the last seven games, Neuvirth made 24 saves to earn the win. He has now allowed two or fewer goals in five of his last six starts.
Where’s My Forty? – The Caps registered a single-game high 43 shots in Tuesday’s win over the Canadiens. It is the eighth time this season the Caps have notched 40 or more shots in a game. Washington is 7-0-1 when it gets 40 ore more shots on goal.
Goose Eggs – Washington was held scoreless in the first period of tonight’s game, marking the fourth consecutive contest in which the Caps failed to find the scoreboard in the first frame. It is the first time this season the Capitals have gone as many as four straight games without a first-period tally.
In another goose egg note, Ovechkin was held without a point for a second straight game for the first time in nearly a year. The last time No. 8 did not notch a point in consecutive contests was Jan. 6-9, 2009.
“They have a lot of different options,” says Montreal goaltender Carey Price. “Ovi is not the only player who can put the puck in the net. They’ve got a lot of players up front, but they've got Greener [Mike Green] on the back side. But, they have a lot of offense on this team.”
Stingy – The Caps allowed just three shots on goal in the first period of Tuesday’s tilt with the Canadiens. Including that frame and dating back to their final two periods of their previous game in Los Angeles, the Caps allowed just 11 shots on goal in a three-period span.
“We made a conscious effort in the last few games to tighten it up in the neutral zone,” says Caps defenseman Tom Poti. “When we do that, we’re better off in our defensive zone.”
Draw Demon – Caps center David Steckel entered the game just a shade behind Buffalos’ Paul Gaustad for the NHL lead in face-off prowess and even with San Jose’s Manny Malhotra. Gaustad was at 61.6% and Steckel and Malhotra were at 61.5% at the night’s outset.
Steckel moved into the league lead by winning 10 of 12 face-offs (83%) on the night. He won all seven draws he took in the first two periods. Gaustad and Malhotra are both idle on Tuesday.
Junior Achivement – Congrats to Caps blueline prospect John Carlson who scored two goals – including the game-winner in overtime – to propel Team USA to victory in Tuesday’s gold medal deciding game at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatoon and Regina.
Loss Leader – With tonight’s setback, Price suffered his 15th regulation loss, tops among all goaltenders in the NHL.
Happy Birthday – A pair of notable ex-Caps and a young Caps hopeful are all celebrating birthdays today. Ex-Caps center Joé Juneau – author of the biggest goal in franchise history – turns 42 today. Former Capitals winger and current Sabre Mike Grier is 35 today. And Mathieu Perreault, who has two goals and seven points in 18 games with Washington this season, celebrates his 22nd birthday today. Perreault is currently skating with the AHL Hershey Bears.
By The Numbers – The Caps had 11 shots on goal in the first, but had nine more bids that missed the net altogether … Ovechkin logged 8:50 in first-period ice time, easily the top figure among all forwards on both sides … After two periods, Washington had outshot Montreal 28-13 and had outhit the Habs 20-11 … The Caps finished with a 30-13 lead in hits. Ovechkin led the way with six … Semin led all skaters from both sides with eight shots on goal. Semin’s single-game career high is 10 shots on goal. He fired 10 shots at Atlanta’s Pasi Nurminen on Oct. 31, 2003, the same night in which he notched his first NHL goal … Poti recorded an assist for the third straight game.
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 WSH