Historic Start – For just the third time in franchise history and the first time since 1997-98, Washington has opened the season with four straight wins. The Caps moved to 4-0 with Saturday night’s 2-1 shaving of the Senators at Verizon Center.
After dominating the first period and taking an early 2-0 lead, the Caps surrendered a goal in the final half-minute of the first frame. That tally seemed to give the listless Senators some life.
“I thought we came out and played a really good first period,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “I thought in the second period we were backing up and the third period they came out at us but we were skating and moving our legs. They had some great chances but [goaltender Tomas] Vokoun stood tall. I thought we were disciplined. We didn’t want to take any penalties against them and didn’t do that.
“We had some chances to break it open but we didn’t do it. In the clutch, we did what we had to do. Not every game is going to be beautiful and the other team wants to win, too.”
Washington fired 31 shots toward the net in the first period, getting 14 of them on goal. Ottawa took just 13 shots, getting eight on net. Over the game’s final 40 minutes, the Caps had just 24 shot bids, and just a dozen were on net. The Sens teed up 43 shots in the same span, getting 26 on goal.
For the second straight game, Vokoun was at the top of his game. He frustrated the Sens for more than 40 minutes after Peter Regin tallied Ottawa’s lone goal with 25.2 seconds left in the first frame. Vokoun finished with 33 saves on the night.
After giving up five goals on 28 shots in his season debut last Monday, Vokoun has now stopped 72 of the 75 shots he has faced in his last two starts. For the season, he has a 2.57 GAA and a .922 save pct. Entering this season, Vokoun’s career marks in those categories were 2.56 and .917, respectively.
Backstrom’s goal marked the first time the Caps scored the game’s first goal this season.
Deuce – Johansson’s goal at 12:01 of the first gave the Capitals their first multiple-goal lead of the 2011-12 season. That comfortable cushion lasted for 7 minutes and 33 seconds.
Czech Mark – Caps defenseman Roman Hamrlik played in his 1,315th career NHL game, one more than ex-NHL center Bobby Holik. Hamrlik now holds the all-time mark for most games played by a Czech born and trained player in NHL history.
“It feels good,” says Hamrlik. “When I started playing I never thought that I can make it and I’ve played so many games, but the most important thing is that we have two points tonight. And you know, that was just another game for me. There have been lots of games and hopefully more coming.”
Streaking – Defenseman Dennis Wideman earned a helper on Johansson’s tally, giving him a point in each of Washington’s four games this season. Wideman is still a few games shy of his career best scoring streak, a seven-game run in 2009.
Not Tonight – Coming into tonight’s game, the Sens had scored 10 of their 13 goals on the season in the third period. Washington shut down the Sens in the third on Saturday, even though Ottawa outshot the Caps 14-8 in the final frame.
Suing For Non-Support – Sens netminder Alex Auld settled in after a shaky start and stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced. In his last two starts against Washington, he has made 50 saves on 54 shots, allowing two goals in each start. He has lost both games, because Regin’s goal tonight was the only one scored in his support in those two contests.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears hosted their season home opener at Giant Center tonight, taking on the Norfolk Admirals in the back end of a home-and-home set to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chocolatetown barn.
A night after taking a 7-5 barnburner in Norfolk, the Bears and Ads fired up the firewagon again on Saturday. This time it was the Admirals who emerged victorious, taking a 6-5 overtime decision.
Graham Mink got the Bears started with his first of the season, a power play strike at 6:42 of the first. Norfolk defenseman Radko Gudas scored a pair to put his team up top before Bears blueliner Sean Collins notched the equalizer in the final minute of the first.
Chris Bourque – who had a five-point game against the Ads on Friday – scored his fourth of the season at 6:01 of the second to give the Bears a 3-2 advantage and Matt Ford’s second of the season gave Hershey a 4-2 lead just five minutes later. That’s when the Ads came up with three unanswered strikes in a span of just 12:15 over the latter part of the second and early portion of the third periods.
With 6:45 left in regulation, Hershey’s Jacob Micflikier scored on a power play to make it 5-5. The Bears earned the point but lost the game when Norfolk’s Michel Ouellet scored at 1:06 of the extra session. Hershey goaltender Braden Holtby (22 saves on 28 shots) was saddled with the overtime loss.
Hershey – now 3-0-1-0 on the season – is in action again next Friday when it travels to Albany.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays opened their 2011-12 regular season with a 4-3 overtime win Friday over Reading on home ice in the head coaching debut of Spencer Carbery.
On Saturday, the Stingrays hosted the Wheeling Nailers at North Charleston Coliseum, winding up on the short end of a 4-1 score. Netminder Daren Machesney stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced and Matt Pope scored the lone goal for the home team.
By The Numbers – Alex Ovechkin accounted for more than a quarter of Washington’s shots, registering a team-high seven … Knuble and Troy Brouwer tied for the team lead with four hits … D.J. King saw his first action of the season for the Caps, skating 6:58 on nine shifts. He also recorded a shot on goal and two hits … Sens blueliner Jared Cowen paced all skaters on both sides with seven hits.
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