“Two [power-play] goals,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “It’s been a longtime. It’s nice just to not have to worry that it’s a one-goal game. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened either.”
It’s been more than a month. (More on that later.)
The winning streak matches Washington’s longest of the season, a six-game run from Oct. 30-Nov. 11.
The Capitals’ five-goal outburst was more than welcome. Tonight’s five-spot was the first for the Caps since a 5-2 win at Tampa Bay on Feb. 4 and the first in front of the home folks since a 5-1 win over the Devils on Dec. 21.
“I think our power play finally worked,” says Caps captain Alex Ovechkin. “We scored two goals and we won the hockey game. I can’t remember scoring five goals in a game. It was a good night for us and a good night for the fans too.”
Defense has been at the forefront of Washington’s current streak. The Caps have allowed just eight goals in the six games during the current winning streak, and they’ve surrendered two or fewer tallies in eight of their last nine games. Going into the game’s final minute, the Caps had allowed just one shot on goal to the Oilers in the third period.
“The third period that our [defense] played was outstanding and hopefully we can keep that going,” says Holtby.
Playing in his first game in nearly two months, Fehr notched his first two-goal game since the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
“I felt good out there tonight,” says Fehr. “Our line got into it early and that helped. That was the first time I’ve scored two goals in a long time, so if we can get the power play going, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
No Nick Tonight – Caps center Nicklas Backstrom finally yielded to a thumb injury he suffered in a Feb. 21 game against the Penguins, sitting out tonight’s contest against Edmonton. It is the first game Backstrom has missed since he started his NHL career with Washington on Oct. 5, 2007.
Before tonight, Backstrom had played in 313 consecutive regular season contests, the third-longest streak in the franchise’s 36-year history. Bobby Carpenter played in 422 consecutive contests for the Caps from the start of his career as an 18-year-old phenom on Oct. 7, 1981 through Nov. 22, 1986.
Carpenter did not go to the sidelines because of an injury, but rather because of a feud with then-Caps coach Bryan Murray. After the Caps’ Nov. 22, 1986 game with Pittsburgh, Carpenter was suspended by the Capitals and sent home until he was traded to the New York Rangers on Jan. 1, 1987.
One of the players who came to the Caps from the Rangers in that deal was forward Kelly Miller, and Miller holds the distinction of having the second-longest games played streak in Washington’s franchise history. Miller played 322 straight games from Oct. 9, 1991 through Dec. 10, 1995.
Backstrom’s streak – nine games shy of Miller’s – is the third longest in franchise history. A pair of Dale Hunter streaks are the fourth and fifth longest, respectively, in franchise history. Hunter player in 306 consecutive games from Feb. 23, 1995 through Dec. 11, 1998 and had a 276-game streak from Dec. 15, 1987 through Feb. 27, 1991.
Edmonton has a pair of players with current iron-man streaks longer than Backstrom’s was. Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano played in his 314th consecutive game on Wednesday in Washington and teammate and blueliner Tom Gilbert played in his 322nd consecutive game in the 5-0 loss to the Caps.
First Fail – The Capitals entered Wednesday’s game with 39 first-period goals on the season, fewest in the NHL. Edmonton came in with 45 first-period strikes, tied for the second fewest in the circuit.
So it probably came as no surprise that the two clubs played a scoreless first frame, except that the Oilers entered tonight’s game with 71 goals against in the first period, tied for the second most in the league.
Tonight’s game against the Oilers was the 12th straight game in which Washington did not own a lead after the first period. The Caps are 9-3 in those games.
Milestone Men – Caps center Jason Arnott recorded the 900th point of his NHL career with the assist on Ovechkin’s second-period power play goal. Arnott becomes the 95th NHL player ever to reach the 900-point plateau and the 12th player among active players in the league.
Ovechkin recorded the 600th point of his NHL career with an assist on Fehr’s second-period power play goal. With that point, Ovechkin moves past Michal Pivonka (599 points) for third place on Washington’s all-time scoring list.
Only Peter Bondra (825) and Mike Gartner (789) have totaled more points in a Capitals sweater than Ovechkin.
Blueliner Dennis Wideman picked up an assist on Semin’s third-period goal. In doing so, Wideman recorded the 200th point of his NHL career.
Hail to Holtby – Holtby didn’t have to make many big saves in tonight’s game, but his biggest came while the game was still 0-0. With the Caps enjoying a power play in the second period, speedy Edmonton forward Andrew Cogliano tore off on a breakaway. Holtby stopped him, and less than 30 seconds later Ovechkin answered on the power play to give Washington a 1-0 lead.
Holtby is on quite a roll right now at the NHL level. The third goaltender on the Caps’ depth chart heading into the 2010-11 season, the 21-year-old rookie from Lloydminster is now sporting a 6-2-1 mark for the season to go along with a sparkling 1.95 GAA and a .926 save pct.
In his last five appearances in the NHL, Holtby is 4-0-1 with a 0.62 GAA and a .977 save pct.
Holtby is the third different Caps goaltender to record a shutout this season. The last time the Caps had three goalies with whitewashes in the same campaign was in 1988-89 when Pete Peeters had four and Clint Malarchuk and Don Beaupre had one each.
Water In The Desert – Ovechkin’s power play goal tonight was his first on home ice this season, and his first at Verizon Center since March 28, 2010 against Calgary. Ovechkin’s power play goal against Calgary last March came on a 5-on-3 extra-man advantage.
He had gone 39 games and 347 days between power play strikes at home. The Capitals had gone 144 straight power plays on home ice without getting a lamp-lighter from Ovechkin.
When Fehr notched his power play goal later in the second period, it marked Washington’s first game with more than one power play goal since it went 2-for-4 with the extra man in a Nov. 26 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Capitals had gone a franchise record 43 straight games without scoring more than one power play goal in a game. The Caps were 14-for-135 (10.4%) with the extra man in those 43 games.
Finally, Washington had gone six straight games without a power play goal for the first time in more than eight years before Ovechkin’s power play goal in the second period of tonight’s game. The Caps also went six straight games without an extra-man strike from Feb. 14-24, 2003.
Close Shaves – Each of Washington’s last eight wins has come by the narrowest of margins, a single goal. Until Fehr’s power play goal midway through the middle frame of Wednesday’s game, the Caps had not even held a lead of more than one goal in any game in more than a month’s time.
Washington beat the Penguins 3-0 at Verizon Center on Feb. 6. Between the end of that game and Fehr’s goal tonight, the Caps went more than 13 full contests without leading by more than a single goal.
Fehr’s tally ended a stretch of 818 minutes and 15 seconds in which Washington did not own a lead larger than a single strike.
Down On The Farm – On Tuesday night in Portland, the AHL Hershey Bears started a grueling stretch of hockey – seven games in nine nights – with a 3-2 shootout setback to the Pirates. The Bears then headed to Worcester for a Wednesday night match with the Sharks.
Defenseman Dmitry Orlov staked the Bears to a 1-0 lead in the first with his first goal as a North American pro. Worcester scored the next three goals of the game, getting one in each frame. Maxime Lacroix netted his fourth of the season for Hershey in the third, but the Bears dropped another 3-2 decision, this one in regulation.
Nolan Schaefer played goal for the Bears, facing one of the other five AHL teams for which he has toiled over the years. Schaefer made 26 stops on the 29 shots he faced.
The Bears get Thursday off before visiting Connecticut on Friday.
By The Numbers – The Capitals are now 17-0 in games in which Semin scores a goal … Tonight’s win was Washington’s 20th on home ice this season (20-8-7) … Washington won 33 of 55 (60%) draws on the night. Brooks Laich led the way, winning 15 of 21 (71%) … Edmonton’s Cogliano had a tough night in the circle, winning just 1 of 13 (8%) … Laich led the Capitals with five hits … Wideman once again led the Caps in ice time (23:34). He also led in power play ice time (6:37) and shorthanded ice time (3:15) … Wideman accounted for half (seven of 14) of Washington’s blocked shots on the night … Chimera and Karl Alzner were the only two Capitals not to record a shot on goal in Wednesday’s game.
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