Nick at Night – Coming into Thursday night’s game in Washington, Ottawa had one win in games it trailed after the second period. That victory came at the Capitals’ expense in Ottawa on Nov. 23.
Ottawa heads back home after Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Caps still owning just one win in games in which it has trailed after two this season.
After the Caps roared out to a 2-0 first-period lead, the Sens drew to within a goal with a late strike in the second. Heading into the game’s final frame, the Senators were poised to draw even and improve upon their road record, the second-worst in the NHL.
Backstrom fired a shot from the goal line that squeezed through Ottawa netminder Pascal Leclaire just 26 seconds into the third, and that tally proved to be the game-winner.
“He showed a lot of leadership,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of Backstrom, “because I thought we were floundering in the second period when it was 2-1 and then he comes out in the third period and gets two goals. He was just determined and that’s what is making him one of the best.”
Backstrom added his second of the night later in the period on a nifty wraparound tally at 10:45 to all but wrap it up for Washington at 4-1.
“We gave up the two early ones,” laments Sens defenseman Chris Phillips. “Then we contained them and got one back. At the end of the [second] period there, we played in their zone a lot. Obviously we wanted to carry that over to the third and they came out and got a quick one. We just got down a little after that and sat back and watched them for the rest of the game.”
With 17 goals and 49 points in 43 games this season, Backstrom now stands alone in eighth place in the NHL scoring race. Backstrom has nine goals in his last 11 games and 13 goals in his last 17 contests.
Home Boys – The Capitals are 14-3-3 at Verizon Center this season, and they have won seven straight contests over the Senators on District ice. Washington has scored four or more goals in each of those seven consecutive wins over the Sens.
Washington hits the road now for a three-game road trip, but when it returns to face Toronto on Jan. 15, it will have played the fewest home games of any team in the NHL. The Capitals will play 21 of their final 36 games at home.
Fearsome Foe – Caps netminder Jose Theodore came up with a solid performance in goal to snap a personal two-game losing streak. His win over Ottawa was his first against the Sens since Oct. 19, 2006 when he made 26 saves in a 2-1 Colorado win at Scotiabank Place.
“I didn’t play a lot in the last couple of weeks,” says Theodore, “but I worked hard in practice and Bruce [Boudreau] held two really good practices with a lot of shooting to get me ready. Tonight right off the bat I felt like I controlled it, controlled the game and controlled my rebounds, which is something I have been working on.”
Coming into Thursday night’s win over the Sens, Thoedore sported a 7-13-3 career mark against Ottawa along with a 3.20 GAA and an .899 save pct.
Chinatown Killers – In 20 home games this season, Washington has had 62 successful penalty killing missions in its 71 time shorthanded for a sparkling kill rate of 87.3%. The Caps feature the league’s sixth-best penalty killing corps on home ice, but Washington is 29th in the league in penalty killing on the road (74.4%).
Multiple Men – Backstrom’s two-goal night was his fifth such effort of the season. Nine different Capitals have now combined for 29 two-goal games in the team’s 43 games this season, but no Cap has managed a hat trick yet. No other NHL team has more than 20 multiple-goal games.
Climbing – Ovechkin snapped a two-game pointless run with a goal and two assists against the Sens. He regained his customary spot atop the NHL’s leader board in shots on goal and tied for the league lead in plus/minus at plus-22.
With 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists) on the season, Ovechkin is now just five points off the league scoring lead.
Helping Hands – Washington defensemen had a hand in each of the team’s last four goals in Thursday’s game. Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Tom Poti and Shaone Morrisonn each collected an assist, running the total assists garnered by Washington blueliners this season to 73. Last season, Caps defensemen combined for 106 assists on the season.
Streaking – Poti’s assist was his fourth in as many games and his 11th of the season. He has had one helper in each of the last four games and now has one more assist than he recorded all of last season.
Welcome Back – To Caps defenseman Brian Pothier, back in the lineup after nearly a month-long absence because of a rib injury. Washington is just 7-6-1 in games in which Pothier has not played this season.
Gord’s Gold –Boyd Gordon’s first-period goal was his first in 36 games and his first since he struck against the Tampa Bay Lightning back on Jan. 1, 2009.
First Things First – Gordon’s goal was Washington’s 50th in the first period of their 43 games this season, but it was the first time the Caps had scored a first-period goal since their 4-1 win over New Jersey on Dec. 26.
All-Star Stuff – The Hershey Bears will be well represented at the 2010 Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic later this month on Portland, Maine. Five Hershey players are slated to suit up for the game, and the Bears are also represented by four staff members.
The 2010 Canadian All-Star Team features Bears forwards Alexandre Giroux and Andrew Gordon. Giroux, who was the AHL MVP for 2008-09, is a starter on the team.
Bears head coach Mark French, assistant coach Troy Mann, athletic trainer Dan “Beaker” Stuck and equipment manager Justin Kullman will also represent the Canadian All-Star Team.
Additionally, a pair of ex-Caps will serve as captains of the respective squads. Former Caps blueliner Nolan Baumgartner will sport the “C” for the Canadian All-Star Team while ex-Caps winger Graham Mink will lead the Planet USA All-Star Team.
Happy Birthday – To a trio of ex-Caps: former Washington goaltender Mike Liut was born on this day in 1956, ex-Caps left wing Randy Burridge was born on this day in 1966 and recent vintage ex-Capital Donald Brashear celebrates birthday No. 37 today.
By The Numbers – In his second game at center, Tomas Fleischmann won 6 of 7 (86%) first-period draws. He finished the night with 12 wins in 15 draws (80%) … The Caps were charged with nine giveaways to Ottawa’s three in the first period and six giveaways to none by the Sens in the second frame … Held pointless in each of the two previous games, Ovechkin fired 10 shots on in Thursday’s game … Washington was unusually accurate on the night, firing 38 shots on goal while missing the mark with six and getting 11 shots blocked by the Senators.
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