Eight Straight – Heading into the third period of Wednesday’s struggle with the Anaheim Ducks, the Caps were in a 1-1 draw. Both teams had played the night before, Washington winning and the Ducks losing. Both teams had produced strong scoring chances and both had gotten excellent goaltending. The Caps were seeking their eighth straight win, and the Ducks were desperately seeking points to sustain their bid for one of the final playoff berths in the Western Conference.
In other words, this one had a lot of drama going into the final 20 minutes. But not for long. The Caps won going away, 5-1. With the win, the Caps have their longest winning streak in nearly 21 years and have matched the second longest spree in franchise history.
Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth stopped the Ducks’ Corey Perry’s bid for the go-ahead goal early in the third, and the Capitals began raining shots on Anaheim netminder J-S Giguere, who had stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced in his first start in more than three weeks.
Washington finally solved Giguere, denting him for three goals in the first three shots it fired in his direction in a span of just 2:30 of the third period. Alexander Semin added his second of the night on a 5-on-3 power play after the Ducks got into penalty trouble later, and Washington skated off a winner for the eighth time in a row.
In the end, the Caps seemed to have more in the tank – and in their legs – in the game’s final 20 minutes.
“We’re in great shape,” says Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, whose first goal of the season at 1:45 of the third proved to be the game-winner. “It’s a 60-minute game, we know it and they’re playing hard playoff hockey. We came to play tonight we worked hard in the third period, we buckled down and we kept getting shots through to Giguere.”
The Caps came out hard early, taking a 1-0 lead on Alex Ovechkin’s 34th goal of the season just 36 seconds into the game. Washington held a 13-2 advantage in shots on goal early in the contest.
The Ducks showed plenty of speed and lots of pluck later in the first and again in the middle frame. They drew even when Dan Sexton scored a rebound goal at the 11:23 mark of the second. Gigure kept the desperate Ducks close, but Anaheim couldn’t get one past Neuvirth, who has now stopped 69 of the 72 shots he has faced in his last 72 periods of work.
What had been a goaltender’s duel turned into a romp when Washington hammered Giguere in the third.
“They’re on a 13-day road trip,” sympathizes Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “That was their fourth game on the road and we’re at home. At home, you’ve got the crowd to re-energize you when you’re down a little bit and they didn’t have that. It was a lot tougher than the score indicated.”
It’s Raining Goals – The Capitals are now 22-7 in their last 29 games. They’ve averaged 4.14 goals per game during that stretch.
Washington leads the league with an average of 3.83 goals per game on the season, the most goals per game in the league since 1995-96. The Caps have allowed 2.72 goals per game in 2009-10. They rank 12th in the NHL in that department.
Getting The Jump – Ovechkin’s goal in the first minute of the first marks the fourth time the Caps have had a goal in the first minute of the first frame this season. They have had 11 goals in the first minute of all periods this season and have yet to allow a single goal in the first minute of any period in 2009-10.
Ovechkin has scored the game’s first goal 11 times this season, three more than any other player. He has scored the Caps’ first goal of the game 15 times.
Where’s The Fire? – If you’re in the Capitals’ locker room, it’s all around you.
Semin has 11 goals and 21 points and is plus-10 in his last dozen games. Ovechkin has eight goals and 23 points and is plus-14 in his last 11 games. Nicklas Backstrom has six goals and a dozen points and is plus-9 in his last 11 games. Mike Knuble has nine goals and 11 points and is plus-7 in his last 11 games. Tomas Fleischmann has three goals and 12 points and is plus-4 in his last dozen games. Brooks Laich has four goals and six points and is plus-6 in his last six games. Eric Fehr has four goals and eight points and is plus-6 in his last 10 games. Jason Chimera has three goals and eight points and is plus-5 in his last 10 games. Brendan Morrison has a goal and three points in his last four games.
Mike Green has not gone more than two games without a point all season. He has six goals and 19 points in his last 17 games. Green is also plus-9 in his last 11 games. Brian Pothier has been a plus or even player in 15 straight games (plus-5). Tom Poti is plus-13 in his last 14 games. John Erskine is plus-11 in his last 19 games. Morrisonn has a goal and five points in his last four games. He is plus-9 in his last seven games. Jeff Schultz is plus-12 in his last 14 games.
Four Score – The Capitals have now scored four or more goals in four straight games and 11 of their last 12. The lone exception was a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Jan. 19.
Power Surge – The Caps now have at least one power play goal in seven straight games (10-for-26, 38.5%), their longest streak in more than a year. Washington went eight straight games with at least one extra-man marker from Nov. 12-26, 2008.
The Capitals lead the NHL with a 26.1% power play success rate. They have netted at least one power play goal in 36 of 53 games this season.
One Shy – Washington is now 11-2 in the month of January. The Caps are one win shy of matching the franchise record for most victories in a month. The Capitals went 12-2-2 in Dec. 1984, posting a franchise record for most points (26) in a month in the process.
The Capitals have two games remaining this month, both at home. The Caps host Florida on Friday and Tampa Bay on Sunday.
And Then There Was One – With the New York Rangers’ loss to Carolina on Wednesday, Washington is now the only NHL team not to have endured a losing streak of as many as four straight regulation games since Boudreau took over on Nov. 22, 2007.
Career Best – Schultz picked up his 13th assist of the season, exceeding his previous single-season high of 12 (set in 2007-08) by one.
Go West Young Men – The Caps are now 8-4-1 against Western Conference opponents this season.
By The Numbers – Ex-Caps defenseman Steve Eminger skated 22:17 for the Ducks, his third highest single-game ice time total in 38 games this season. Eminger led all skaters on both side with five blocked shots in the game … No Capital finished the night with a minus next to his name on the scoresheet … The Caps won 41 of 65 (63%) of the face-offs on the night. Washington won 16 of 22 (73%) in the first and 15 of 21 (71%) in the third … The Capitals fired 81 shots on goal, 49 on net, a dozen that were blocked and 20 that missed the mark … Jason Chimera was the only Cap not to record a shot on goal.
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 WSH
3 - 1 WSH
4 - 1 WSH
5 - 1 WSH
Interference on goalkeeper