Six Pack – Three goals in a span of just 2:25 early in the third period propelled the Capitals to a sixth straight win to start the 2011-12 season, a 5-2 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia. The victory extends Washington’s franchise record for most consecutive triumphs at the start of a season.
Washington surrendered the game’s first goal, a beautiful breakaway strike from Claude Giroux. The Caps then rebounded to score five unanswered tallies, taking control of the contest early in the third.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game for us,” says Caps captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored twice in the game. “We knew it was going to be a real battle. We made a couple mistakes in the first period and they scored the first one. I think at the end of the first period we scored very important goals for us. We got the lead and we played our game.”
Mathieu Perreault and linemates Jeff Halpern and Matt Hendricks had a strong shift late in the first, hemming the Flyers into their own end for a prolonged period. Perreault intercepted a clearing bid and slid it towards the net. It glanced off Flyers’ defenseman Braydon Coburn and went in to even the game at 1-1 with just 1:20 left in the frame.
“It took a little while to get our legs going,” says Perreault, “but once we got that first goal, we felt like the guys were finding their legs and they were going. And Ovi got a nice goal with 10 seconds left in the first.”
Just over a minute after Perreault’s goal, Ovechkin scored his first on a rebound with a mere 11.8 seconds left in the first, giving the Capitals a lead they would not relinquish.
“The fourth line, you can’t give them enough credit,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “Halpern got a pretty good pressure cut [above] his eye; I don’t know how many stitches he took, and comes back. Hendricks blocking shots, Matty Perreault might have had his best game as a pro tonight. You used the word ‘catalyst.’ They’re energy. Guys feed off them doing well, and they did really well tonight.”
Philadelphia came out hard in the second and spent a great deal of time in the Washington end of the ice. But Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun kept up his strong play and stopped all 14 shots he faced in the middle stanza.
“I think probably the first 14 minutes of the second period, they dominated,” says Ovechkin. “But Vokie played unbelievable. He kept us in the game and we kept the lead. In the third period we used our chances to score goals.”
Even though the Caps spent more of the second in their own end than they would have liked, Boudreau was happy with his team’s work at that end of the sheet.
“Even in the second there when they had all the zone time,” says Boudreau. “I thought our zone coverage was really good. We weren’t letting a lot through, and when they were getting through, Tomas was there. I thought it was good.”
Roman Hamrlik, Ovechkin and Joel Ward all scored early in the third to put the game out of reach. Ovechkin’s goal came on the power play, his first extra-man tally of the campaign.
Tonight’s game marks the fifth time in the last nine meetings between the Caps and Flyers that Washington has scored five or more goals in the game.
A Ways To Go – Washington is still well shy of the NHL record for most consecutive wins at the start of an NHL regular season. The 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs set the mark with 10; it was matched by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres. Three teams have won eight straight at season’s outset, most recently the 2005-06 Nashville Predators. Four teams have won seven straight, with the 1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins being the most recent of that group.
Ovechkin Owning – With his two goals tonight, Ovechkin now has 22 goals and 37 points in just 23 career contests against the Flyers. He now has recorded at least a point in nine straight games against the Flyers. Philadelphia last held the caps’ captain scoreless on Jan. 6, 2009.
During his seven-year NHL career, Ovechkin now has 11 goals and 17 points in 11 games at the barn now known as Wells Fargo Center.
All Square – Tonight’s victory Vokoun evens up his NHL career record squarely at 267-267-35-41. He is 5-0 on the season and has stopped 137 of the last 142 shots he has faced (.965 save pct.) since the start of overtime in his Caps’ debut vs. the Lightning on Oct. 10.
Playing with the Montreal Canadiens as a 20-year-old, Vokoun made his NHL debut against the Flyers in Philadelphia on Feb. 6, 1997. It did not go well.
Vokoun was nicked for four goals on just 14 shots in 20 minutes of work as the Flyers romped to a 9-5 win. It would be the only game Vokoun would play in a Montreal sweater; he went to Nashville in the expansion draft prior to the start of the Predators’ inaugural 1998-99 season.
Powering Up – As was pointed out on Japers Rink’s “Noon Number” feature on Thursday, the Caps now have a run of four straight games with at least one power play goal for the first time in 114 games.
First Strikes – First-year Caps Roman Hamrlik and Joel Ward each scored their first goals as members of the Capitals in tonight’s game.
No OT Tonight – Tonight marked the first time in the last five meetings between the Caps and Flyers that overtime was not needed to determine a winner.
Streak To Six – Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman recorded an assist in the third period to run his season-starting scoring streak to six straight. He has two goals and four assists to lead all Caps defensemen in scoring with six points.
Will Bleed For Points – Caps center Brooks Laich sustained two different high-sticking wounds to his face and Halpern required several stitches to close what Boudreau termed a “pressure cut” above his left eye.
On The Sheet – Hamrlik’s goal and Hendricks’ assist on that tally were the first points of the season for both players. Eighteen of the 20 different skaters Washington has dressed in its six games this season have now made their mark on the scoresheet.
O From The D – Washington’s six blueliners have combined for four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in the team’s six games this season.
Better Nights Ahead – Obtained in the deal that sent former Philly captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles last summer, center Brayden Schenn made his Flyers’ debut on Thursday against the Capitals.
Schenn tied for the team lead with four hits, but was also a minus-3 and won just four of 11 (36%) face-offs in the game.
By The Numbers – Ovechkin was seventh among the 12 Washington forwards with 10:57 in even-strength ice time. He led the Caps with 7:02 in power play ice time, and was on the ice for the lion’s share of the 8:56 in which Washington enjoyed the man-advantage … Mike Green led all Washington defensemen with 24:28 in ice time … Mike Knuble paced the Caps with five shots on net … Green fired a team-high 11 shots; he got three on net, had six blocked and missed twice … Hamrlik and Alexander Semin each had four shots blocked on the night … Hendricks and Hamrlik each had a pair of hits, the only two Caps to record more than one … John Carlson led the Caps with three blocked shots … Halpern was the Caps’ best draw man, winning six of seven (86%) … Seventeen of Philly’s 18 skaters recorded at least one shot on net, with Andreas Nodl being the lone abstainer … Philly rearguards Andrej Meszaros and Matt Carle each blocked five Washington shots on the night … Giroux won 11 of 17 (65%) face-offs.
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