52 Pick-Up – On a night in which No. 52 (Mike Green) sat out for a night of rest, Washington picked up win No. 52 on the season, a 3-2 overtime decision over the Boston Bruins.
Nicklas Backstrom’s 31st of the season staked the Caps to a 1-0 lead at 7:36 of the first, Alex Ovechkin drew a pair of defenders and neatly slid a pass to Backstrom, who oozed it just through Boston netminder Tuukka Rask.
The Caps surrendered a goal on a Dennis Wideman in the final seconds of the first period and another to Patrice Bergeron midway through the second as Boston took a 2-1 lead. In the last minute of the middle frame, the Caps drew even at 2-2 when Ovechkin’s shot glanced off Mike Knuble’s boot and into the cage behind Rask.
After a scoreless third, Wideman high-sticked Caps forward Tomas Fleischmann to send to the Caps to a 4-on-3 manpower advantage. Washington needed just 20 seconds of that time to put an end to the contest. Brooks Laich flagged down Alexander Semin’s shot and tapped it into a yawning net to put Washington in the win column for the 52nd time in 2009-10.
“They played really, really hard,” says Laich of the Bruins. “They’re an aggressive hockey team. We had a nice break at the end. They’re very responsible and also we don’t get many odd man rushes. It seems like their two defensemen are always in the middle of the ice backing up and wherever you’re going you have to go through a couple of guys to get to the net and they also have great back pressure. They’re a very solid defensive team.”
For Laich, it was his second overtime game-winner this season and the second time he has done so in the first minute of the extra frame.
Boston will be back in the barn on F Street this Sunday when the Bruins supply the opposition for the 2009-10 regular season finale. Tonight was the Bruins’ first visit to Verizon Center this season and the first meeting between the Caps and Bruins in two months.
“You can see what they do,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “A lot of times, you don’t play a team for such a long time, and even though you have the tapes, you don’t have the feel of how it was against them. We play them Sunday and we will have a pretty good idea of what they will do, and they will have a pretty good idea of what we are trying to do. It will be an interesting match-up.”
Stellar Sixty – Once again, Caps goaltender Jose Theodore was at the top of his game. Theodore stopped 28 shots and made some brilliant saves along the way. He is now 19-0-3 in his last 22 decisions and has not suffered a regulation setback since Jan. 12, a span of 83 days. With a 29-7-7 mark on the season, Theodore is now a win shy of reaching 30 for the fourth time in his NHL career.
“I think they play pretty good defensively and they don’t give us lots of chance to score goals,” says Ovechkin of the Bruins, “but I think Jose played great and they had lots of chances to score, but it’s nice when Jose plays well and gives us a chance.”
Making It Count – Washington got only two power play chances against the disciplined Bruins, but they made their overtime extra-man chance count. Laich scored on the power play against a Boston team that has played very well recently while a man down. Even with the game-winning power play goal it surrendered in Washington on Monday, Boston’s penalty killing outfit has had 34 successful missions out of 40 (85%) in the team’s last 16 games.
One Shy – Laich’s goal was Washington’s 299th of the season, not including the ridiculous “standings” goals the league awards to teams for shootout victories. With its next goal, Washington will reach the 300 level for the ninth time in franchise history and the first time since 1992-93.
Under Review – Both of Washington’s regulation-time goals came under review and needed to get rubber stamped by the folks in Toronto. It was not immediately clear whether Backstrom’s first-period strike actually crossed the goal line or not. And Knuble’s second-period tally needed some extra looks to determine if the Caps winger redirected the disc into the net with his foot. Both goals stood up, obviously.
Half Century – With a goal and an assist on the night, Knuble became the seventh Capital to reach the 50-point plateau this season. This marks the first time Washington has had seven players with 50 or more points since 2002-03 when it had seven. This season marks the fifth time in his NHL career that Knuble has reached the 50-point milestone.
Streaking – Washington has won four straight games over the Bruins and is now 7-0-1 in its last eight games against Boston.
Senses Working Overtime – Ten of the Capitals’ last 20 games have required overtime. From Dec. 12 through Feb. 5 only one of Washington’s 26 games went to the extra season. The Caps are now 11-12 in overtime/shootout contests this season.
Cooking At Home – Washington is now 29-5-5 on Verizon Center ice this season. With two home games remaining, the Caps are still within reach of the single-season franchise records for both home wins (30) and points at home (62).
Powerless – The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play in Monday’s game. They have scored a power play goal in only one of their last 14 games. The B’s are now just 3-for-41 (7.3%) with the extra man in their last 14 contests.
This Day in NHL History –Mike Knuble scored his first NHL goal for Detroit against Toronto on this day in 1997. And ex-Caps defenseman Joe Reekie netted the first goal of his illustrious NHL career on this day in 1987 for Buffalo against Hartford, the team that originally drafted him.
By The Numbers – With no penalties on either side in the first period, Ovechkin skated just 4:59 in the game’s first 20 minutes … Boston’s Zdeno Chara needed to go off for repairs after he received an undetected high stick, so his ice time was a shade less than usual. Matt Hunwick skated 29 minutes to pace the Bruins. Wideman was close behind at 28:39 and Chara logged 26:11 … John Erskine led Washington with five blocked shots. Shaone Morrisonn and Jeff Schultz each got in the way of four Boston shot tries … Morrisonn led the Caps with five hits … Washington is now 12-0 in games in which both Ovechkin and Backstrom skate fewer than 20 minutes … Tom Poti paced the Caps with 23:23 in ice time on the night … Washington is now 36-7-6 in games in which it scores the first goal.
Snap shot -