Number Nine – Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist blanked the Capitals 6-0 on Verizon Center ice on Friday night, the ninth shutout loss the Capitals have suffered this season. Lundqvist joins Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson and Atlanta’s Ondrej Pavelec as the third goaltender to whitewash Washington twice this season.
“We played a really good game in all areas,” says Lundqvist, who now has a league-leading total of eight shutouts on the season. “Everything was clicking for us. We just did a great job. I think getting a lead against this team, especially here, is big.”
Since starting the season with a 14-4-1 mark in their first 19 games, the Capitals have gone 18-16-9 in 43 games since. They’ve been blanked nine times in those 43 games, accounting for exactly half of the regulation losses suffered in that span. One of the shutouts was an overtime loss.
“I’m not happy,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “Our fans deserve better. We deserve to get booed. It’s not fun when you come home and you’ve got the best fans in the world and you play like that. It’s just not acceptable and it’s embarrassing. We have 10 home games left and we want to make this a tough building to play in.”
The only Washington teams to absorb more shutout losses than the 2010-11 edition are the first-year expansion 1974-75 team (12 times) and the injury-riddled 1998-99 club (11 times). The ’98-99 team holds the franchise record for man-games lost because of injury at 510.
Only the hapless (8-67-5) 1974-75 team suffered nine shutouts in a tighter time frame; that club was blanked nine times in a 39-game stretch.
The 2010-11 Capitals are the first to suffer four home ice shutouts since the 1998-99 team.
Tonight’s whitewash was the worst suffered by the Caps on home ice since a 6-0 blanking at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres on March 10, 2004. That loss came just one day after the 2004 NHL trade deadline.
The last time the Capitals lost by six or more goals on home ice was a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 24, 2006.
Nicked Up – Caps center Nicklas Backstrom played his 308th consecutive NHL game on Friday despite a thumb injury. Backstrom finished with 19:16 in ice time, a bit under his average per game (20:57) on the season. While the ailment didn’t seem to hinder Backstrom’s shot (he fired six times, getting five on net and missing once), it limited him to just one face-off on the night. That draw came in the third period and Backstrom won it.
Out Again – Caps defenseman Mike Green missed six of the previous seven games after a Brooks Orpik point shot hit him near the right ear in a Feb. 6 game against the Penguins. Green returned to the lineup on Friday, but his night ended after two shifts totaling 2:25, leaving the Capitals with five defensemen for the rest of the night.
Green cross-checked rookie New York forward Derek Stepan behind the Caps cage in the first period, and Stepan then went trailed after Green and got under the blueliner’s jaw with a shoulder hit from the backside. At the very least, an interference call probably should have been made on Stepan, but play was allowed to continue and the Rangers scored the game’s first goal seconds later.
For the Caps, it was all downhill from there.
Green immediately headed for the locker room and he did not return to the game. He did not accompany the team to Long Island after the game and is listed as day-to-day.
Stepan scored the Rangers’ fourth goal on a power play in the second period.
Not Any More – Until tonight, Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth had been the only NHL goalie this season to play in 35 games without allowing more than four goals in any single contest.
Shooting Gallery – The Capitals fired 72 shots to New York’s 46 on the night, but the visitors were much more precise with their missiles. New York scored twice in each period, and got 28 of its 46 shots on goal, missing eight and getting eight blocked.
The Capitals got 35 shots on net, had 18 blocked and missed with 19. Caps captain Alex Ovechkin – who was one of his team’s top performers – had eight shots on goal, five shots that were blocked and four that missed. He accounted for nearly a quarter of his team’s total shot attempts on the night.
One At A Time – Tonight’s game marked the 38th straight in which Washington has gone without scoring more than one power play goal in a contest. The good folks at Elias Sports Bureau verified earlier on Friday that the current 38-game run without multiple power play goals in a game is the longest of its kind in Washington’s 36-year franchise history.
Multiples – New York netted a pair of power play goals in Friday’s game. Their multiple-goal effort with the extra man is just the fourth in 62 games against Washington’s penalty killing outfit this season.
No Place Like Home – Since going 30-3-4 in 37 home games during the first 11 months of calendar 2010, the Caps are 5-7-6 in their last 18 home games. The Capitals have not won consecutive home contests at any point during that stretch, the longest they’ve gone without back-to-back wins on Verizon Center ice since they went through the final 20 games of the 2003-04 home slate without successive home wins.
Washington opened the 2010-11 season with a 12-1-1 record in its first 14 homes games, including a seven-game home winning streak at one point. The Caps outscored the opposition by a combined 57-35 during those 14 games.
Even after giving up half a dozen goals to the Rangers in Friday’s game, the Caps have allowed an average of just 2.27 goals per game in their last 18 home contests, a number you’d think would translate into much more than five wins over that span. But Washington has been blanked four times in its last 16 home games and has averaged just 1.83 goals per game in its last 18 games at Verizon Center.
Biting The Hand That Once Fed Him – Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger was the Caps’ first-round choice (12th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He started his NHL career in Washington in 2003-04 and totaled six goals, 43 points and 221 PIM in 212 games with the Capitals before being dealt to Philadelphia on June 20, 2008.
Eminger scored the only goal the Rangers would need in Friday’s game. A healthy scratch in nine of New York’s prior 10 games, Eminger’s goal was his second of the season. Both have come against previous employers (Tampa Bay and Washington). Eminger has now scored twice during his career against the Caps.
By The Numbers – The Caps’ loss tonight was their first in regulation to an Atlantic Division foe since a 7-0 loss to the Rangers in New York on Dec. 12. Washington is now 5-1-3 in its last nine games against Atlantic Division clubs and 9-3-4 on the season … Only three Rangers – Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Prust and Michael Sauer – failed to record a shot on goal in Friday’s game. Only three Caps – Green, Boyd Gordon and Mathieu Perreault – failed to notch a shot on goal … The Caps outhit the Rangers 26-17 on the night. Ovechkin (six) and John Erskine (five) led the way … Backstrom paced the Caps with three blocked shots while Brian Boyle led the Blueshirts with five … John Carlson led the Caps with 26:50 in ice time, including 7:53 while Washington was on the power play.
1 - 0 NYR
2 - 0 NYR
3 - 0 NYR
Michael Del Zotto
4 - 0 NYR
5 - 0 NYR
6 - 0 NYR
Too many men/ice - bench
Hi stick - double minor