Break Time – The Caps finished off a three-game road trip with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday. The Caps came from behind three times to gain a point, but picked up a loss when the Blues’ David Perron scored the lone goal of the shootout in the fourth round.
The Caps went 0-1-2 on the trip, which immediately followed the team’s franchise record 14-game winning streak.
Mike Knuble scored a pair of power play goals – including one on a two-man advantage – to key the Caps’ attack. Washington’s beleaguered defense and goaltending, victimized for a total of 23 goals in the team’s previous five games, played better. Jose Theodore made 33 saves between the pipes for Washington in a losing effort.
Washington hits the break with a 41-13-8 mark and 20 games remaining after the break. The Caps lead the Southeast Division by 27 points. They lead the Eastern Conference by 13 points. And they lead in the President’s Trophy race by one point.
Saturday’s game was Washington’s final contest prior to the NHL’s Olympic break. The Capitals return to the ice on March 3 when they visit Buffalo to close out the season’s series with the Sabres.
No Trick – The Caps’ streak of consecutive games with a hat trick stopped at three. Knuble had a couple chances to notch what would have been the second hat trick of his career and push the Washington hat trick run to four, but instead he settled for his fifth two-goal game of the season. Knuble’s two-goal night was Washington’s 43rd multiple-goal game in the team’s 62 contests this season.
Of the 136 players in the league who are aged 33 and over, Knuble – who is 37 – leads them all with 23 goals this season. He becomes the seventh Capital with at least six power play goals this season.
Fivers – The Capitals’ streak of successive games with five or more goals was stopped at five on Saturday. The run was Washington’s longest in nearly 17 years. The Caps last had five or more goals in five straight games from March 17-25, 1993.
Stand-Up Guy – Blues forward Cam Janssen threw a late hit on Caps winger Matt Bradley early in the first period, knocking the Washington forward from the game and incurring a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct in the process.
Big kudos go out to Caps forward Quintin Laing, a character player who stood up for his fallen teammate, dropping the gloves with Janssen. Janssen is a guy who fights for a living. He has two career goals and six points in 201 lifetime NHL contests. And he has 517 career PIM.
This season, Janssen has zero points. In 38 games. With 163 PIM. He averages 4:44 per game in ice time.
Janssen has 65 career NHL fights. Saturday night was Laing’s first ever in the NHL in 71 games. Laing was given an instigator penalty for standing up for his teammate. In reality, Janssen instigated the fight with a late, dangerous and dirty hit. He also displayed his true colors in continuing to throw punches at Laing as the Caps forward was going down.
It will be interesting to see how the NHL’s wayward wheel of justice spins on this one, but whatever the length of any possible suspension to Janssen, his absence from the lineup won’t hurt the Blues.
Thirty – Alexander Semin’s goal on Saturday was his 30th of the season. It is the third time in the last four campaigns that he has reached that milestone. His career high is 38, established in 2006-07.
Green Going – Caps defenseman Mike Green had a pair of assists on the night to extend his scoring streak to seven games (two goals, eight assists).
Green also skated 33:48 in the game, just shy of his single-game career high of 34:05 established in an Oct. 18, 2008 shootout loss to the Devils.
Helping Hands – With his assist on Knuble’s power play goal late in the second period, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom reached 50 assists for the third time in as many seasons to start his NHL career. He becomes just the sixth player in NHL history to achieve the feat. He joins Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Mario Lemieux, Evgeni Malkin and Peter Stastny on that short list.
Streak Stopped – Alex Ovechkin’s point streak was stopped at nine.
Tough Town – The Caps are now 0-6-1 in their last seven visits to St. Louis. Washington’s last win over the Blues in St. Louis came on Oct. 26, 1996. Jim Carey started the game in goal for Washington and Grant Fuhr was between the pipes for the Blues, who were coached by Mike Keenan at the time.
Both starters were pulled, Carey in favor of Olie Kolzig and Fuhr for Jon Casey.
Hockey Hall of Famers Al MacInnis and Brett Hull scored for St. Louis that night. Jason Allison scored twice for the Capitals and Dale Hunter netted the game-winner.
By The Numbers – The Caps won 14 of 17 (82%) of their first-period face-offs. Backstrom won seven of eight (88%) in the first … Mike Green skated 21:34 in the first 40 minutes of Saturday’s game … Green led the Caps and David Backes paced the Blues with five hits each … The Blues’ Mike Weaver blocked five shots, most on either side.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears were in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a Saturday night date with the Baby Pens, a night after they extended their winning streak to 11 with a 5-2 win over the River Rats in Albany. Hershey’s streak was halted at 11 with a 5-0 whitewashing from the Baby Pens.