Five For Five – Washington ran its exhibition record to a perfect 5-0 with a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center on Friday night. Eric Fehr had two goals – including the game-winner – and an assist to pace the attack.
The Caps led 2-0 and 3-2, but the Blue Jackets came back to even it up both times. Fehr’s goal at 5:12 of the third – just 50 seconds after the Jackets had tied it – finally put the Capitals on top for good.
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau believes his team is ready for the regular season, which starts a week from today against the Thrashers in Atlanta.
“It’s more that they’re getting tired of the pre-season,” says Boudreau. “They want to start playing something for real. We can win all the pre-season games in a row in the world and in two weeks no one is going to know what our record was in the pre-season.”
Even Keel – All three Columbus goals came on special teams; two on the power play and one shorthanded. Washington has allowed just five even-strength goals in its five exhibition games.
First Blood – For the fifth time in as many pre-season games this fall, Washington scored the game’s first goal on Friday night. And for the fifth time in as many pre-season games, it did so in the game’s first period.
Washington has yet to trail in 300 minutes worth of pre-season hockey. The Capitals have outscored the opposition by a combined 5-1 in the first period of their five pre-season games this fall.
Get Green – Caps defenseman Mike Green has had a hand in four of the seven goals the team has scored in the two pre-season games in which he has played.
He’s Okay – Caps forward Matt Hendricks was leveled by a Nate Guenin check early in the first period. As Hendricks lay on the ice, Washington defenseman Tyler Sloan came to his defense, dropping the gloves with Guenin.
Hendricks did not return to the game, but he is said to be fine. Boudreau said afterwards that had it been a regular season contest, Hendricks would have returned to action.
Later in the game, Alex Ovechkin intervened on behalf of Mike Knuble when the Caps’ captain perceived that his linemate had been the victim of a borderline hit from Columbus defenseman Nick Holden. Ovechkin’s efforst earned him a double-minor for roughing.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s pre-season or not,” declares Ovechkin. “We have to stay together as a team. Hockey is a physical game. They want to show their character. They’re a pretty good team and a young team, so they want to prove something.”
Biting The Hand That Once Fed Them – Two of the Blue Jackets’ three goals on the night came off the sticks of former Capitals. Center Kyle Wilson beat former Hershey teammate Michal Neuvirth with a shorthanded wrist shot at 2:02 of the second period. Ex-Caps captain Chris Clark supplied the assist on Wilson’s goal, setting him up after picking Ovechkin’s pocket.
At 4:12 of the third, Clark deflected a Rostislav Klesla point shot past Neuvirth during a Columbus power play to even the score at 3-3.
Bubble Guys – The forwards still in competition for an opening night roster spot acquitted themselves well in Friday’s game.
Andrew Gordon took a pair of minor penalties (one was a cheesy minor for unsportsmanlike conduct-diving) but also recorded four shots on goal in 12:10 of work. He spent a good deal of time in the offensive zone when he was on the ice.
Jay Beagle was often on the ice with Gordon. He logged 14:10 and two shots on goal but was just 4-for-13 (31%) in the face-off circle. Beagle skated 4:20 (second highest among all Caps forwards) while the Caps were a man down, and he was excellent in that role. None of the Jackets’ three goals was scored while he was on the ice.
Mathieu Perreault had a primary assist on the game-winner and was a creative force in the offensive zone for much of the game. He won eight of his dozen draws (67%).
Marcus Johansson was his usual speedy and cerebral self. He collected an assist and was plus-2 on the night, but failed to win any of his 10 face-offs.
No-Hitter? – According to the official stats sheet, the Caps went the entire third period without administering a single hit. The Blue Jackets were credited with a 6-0 advantage in hits in the final frame. The two teams each finished with 16 hits on the night.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears opened up their pre-season slate with a visit to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night. The Baby Pens came away with a 4-3 shootout win.
Brian Willsie, Kyle Greentree and Zach Miskovic scored the regulation goals for the Bears.
The two teams head back to Hershey for a Saturday night rematch at Giant Center. The Bears then host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday to close out a three-in-three pre-season weekend.
Hershey opens its regular season schedule next weekend with a Saturday night game in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton followed by a trip to Rochester for a Sunday skirmish with the Americans.
By The Numbers – Karl Alzner led the Caps with three blocked shots on the night. John Moore and Mike Commodore each got in the way of three shots for the Jackets … Moore’s minus-3 was the worst mark of the game on either side … Fehr led all skaters on both teams with half a dozen shots on goal. He was his usual economic self, picking up a pair of goals and firing those six shots (plus one that missed and one that was blocked) in just 13:56 of work … Green led all skaters on both sides with 25:29 in ice time … Ovechkin was plus three with three assists.
Wrist shot -