Seven/Seven – The Caps scored seven goals against the Islanders in New York on Tuesday in extending their winning streak to seven games. The streak began in Florida two weeks ago when goaltender Jose Theodore came on in relief of starter Michal Neuvirth to earn a 5-4 shootout victory over the Panthers. In Tuesday’s win over the Isles, Neuvirth came on in relief of Theodore.
The Caps scored early and often against the Fishermen, getting the game’s first goal after Brendan Morrison won an offensive zone draw back to defenseman John Erskine. Erskine pump-faked an Islander and skirted around him, creating a man-advantage down low. He then threaded a shot toward the goal, off Morrison’s stick and into the net. The Caps were up 1-0 at the 1:05 mark.
A pair of pretty Alexander Semin strikes – both of them unassisted – were sandwiched around a power play goal for each side in the first. Robbie Schremp scored for the Islanders, and Mike Knuble notched his 15th of the season while the Caps were a man to the good.
Erskine jumped up and converted an Eric Fehr centering feed early in the second, seven minutes before Kyle Okposo scored the Isles’ lone goal of the night on a one-timer from right in front of Theodore. Jason Chimera (in the second period) and Brooks Laich (in the third) both scored for Washington on strong individual efforts. Laich’s goal involved skating through virtually the entire Islanders’ team and flipping a shot over the glove hand of Islanders’ goalie Rick DiPietro, who was on in relief of starter Dwayne Roloson.
Neuvirth came on to start the third period in relief of Theodore, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
The Capitals have outscored the opposition by a combined 35-17 during the life of their winning streak.
House Money – Washington entered Tuesday’s game averaging a league-leading 3.74 goals per game, and averaging exactly four goals per game in its previous 27 contests. The Caps scored four in the first against New York, so they had the last 40 minutes with which to pad those averages.
Biting The Hand – Erskine had a goal (his first since Jan. 19, 2008, a span of 737 days) and an assist against his former employer. It was his first two-point game since he had a pair of assists in a March 17, 2009 game against the Panthers and the first time he’d had a goal and an assist in a game since he did so on Dec. 2, 2006 against Buffalo. That goal against Buffalo was an empty-netter, so Tuesday marked the first time in Erskine’s 306-game NHL career that he had a goal against a goaltender and an assist.
Of course, Erskine’s job is to prevent goals, not score them. He’s been doing quite well in that regard, too. With a plus-3 on Tuesday, Erskine is plus-13 on the season and plus-10 in his last 20 games.
Streak Stopped – Although he was held without a point in the game, putting an end to his nine-game scoring streak (seven goals, 13 assists), Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin was a notable force on the ice throughout the night. He constantly posed problems for the Islanders’ undermanned defense, and he fired 10 shots on goal, missing with another four shot tries.
Only once before in Ovechkin’s five NHL seasons have the Capitals managed to score seven goals in a game without as much as a point from their superstar left wing. That was in a 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center on March 18, 2007.
Sweet Sixteen – Last week, Theodore recorded his 16th career goal against the Penguins, his most against any NHL opponent. Tonight, Theodore raised his career record against the Islanders to 16-9-2. He has a 2.11 career GAA and a .928 save pct. against the Islanders.
During his career at Nassau Coliseum, Theodore is now 5-6-1 with a 2.02 GAA and a .933 save pct.
Sweet Sixteen, Part Deux – The Caps’ win over the Isles was their 16th road win of the season. The Capitals are six wins shy of matching the franchise mark of 22 road wins, set in 1983-84. Washington has 13 road games remaining in 2009-10.
Half A Dozen – Washington’s Tuesday outburst marked the 10th time in 52 games this season they’ve netted half a dozen goals in a game. Last season, the Capitals had five such outings in 82 games.
Match For Mo – With a goal and an assist against the Islanders, Morrison now has 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 52 games in this, his first season with the Capitals. That total matches his total of 31 (16 goals, 15 assists) in 81 games last season with Anaheim and Dallas.
Multiple Men – Semin’s multiple-goal game was the 36th produced by nine different Caps in 52 games this season. Semin had the Caps’ 16th multiple-goal period this season. There are 22 NHL teams that don’t have that many multiple-goal games.
Four Spot – Washington’s four-goal first period was its first of the season. The Capitals have had three goals in the first period three times this season, doing so once in the home opener vs. Toronto on Oct. 3 and in road games at Philadelphia on Dec. 5 and Atlanta on Jan. 9.
Killing Disparity – Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Caps had allowed the Islanders a total of eight power play chances in the three games played between the two teams this season. Washington faced five New York power plays in Tuesday’s game while enjoying just two power plays of its own.
During the life of the Capitals’ current seven-game winning streak, they’ve had the benefit of 22 power play chances to 35 for the opposition.
Home Boys – Washington has now played 28 of its 41 road games this season. With five more road games between now and the start of the NHL’s Olympic break on Feb. 13, the Caps will have just eight road games remaining when they return from the break.
The Capitals have played 24 home games this season, fewer than any team in the Eastern Conference. Among all NHL teams, only the Colorado Avalanche (23) has played fewer home games than Washington.
Tough Night – Noted Cap killer Jon Sim was minus-3 in just 10 shifts in the first 40 minutes of Tuesday’s game. Isles defenseman Freddy Meyer made him feel better by going minus-3 in nine shifts over the same span.
Sim finished at minus-4 in 16 shifts covering 12:44. Meyer was minus-3 in 14:32, and Bruno Gervais absorbed a minus-4 while skating 23:02.
Happy Birthday – To the Great One. Wayne Gretzky celebrated birthday No. 49 on Tuesday.
By The Numbers – The Caps were credited with 10 takeaways and debited with 10 giveaways in the first period of Tuesday’s game … Fehr and Chimera were both plus-3 on the night despite skating barely more than 10 minutes each … Jeff Schultz blocked four shots to pace the Caps. Erskine, Mike Green and Tom Poti each had three … David Steckel paced the Caps with four hits in 11:50 … Shaone Morrisonn led the Caps with 5:55 in shorthanded ice time. The Capitals were shorthanded for 8:52 on the night … New York’s Richard Park was 10-for-11 (91%) in the face-off circle on the night.
Down On The Farm – The ECHL South Carolina Stingrays were also in action on Tuesday, hosting the Wheeling Nailers at North Charleston Coliseum. The Stingrays fell 3-1 to Wheeling. Wheeling also beat South Carolina on Sunday. The two losses ended the Stingrays’ home ice winning streak at five.
At 30-11-2-4, the Stingrays still boast the best record in the ECHL. South Carolina’s 66 points are 10 more than any other team in the league and 16 more than Florida, the second-place team in the ECHL’s South Division.