Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Caps Light up Miller, Sabres, To Kick Start Homestand

By: Justin Creech
Washington, DC— As he stood just inside the locker room Wednesday night surrounded by reporters, Washington Capitals forward Brendan Morrison reflected on his days playing junior hockey when he was asked about his second period tally.
“I haven’t done that in 17 years,” said Morrison.
Morrison was referring to the highlight reel move he used to beat Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller midway through the second period.
After Miller stopped Tomas Fleischmann, the puck laid in the crease just to the left of Miller. Morrison was initially going to use a backhand shot, but after realizing Miller had taken away the bottom part of the net, Morrison quickly went to his forehand and fired a shot high through his legs that beat Miller
The shot restored the Capitals two-goal lead and proved to be the game winner.
Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored power play goals in the third period 1:15 apart as the Capitals defeated the Northeast Divisionleading Sabres, 5-2, to kick start a three game home stand.
Morrison had been snake bit of late having gone nine straight games without scoring a goal, but was all smiles in the locker room while discussing his goal.
“I figured I was due one,” said Morrison. “Last time we played these guys is when it got started. I had four great chances on Miller and kind of got stoned and then you start to think about it instead of just reacting and you get into a bit of a funk. But, hopefully it’s done.”
Backstrom’s goal came on a 5 on 3 with Craig Rivet and Paul Gaustad in the penalty box for the Sabres as Alexander Semin sent a cross ice pass to Backstrom who barried it past Miller for his second goal of the game. Backstrom scored the Capitals first goal of the game 1:18 into the first period.
Ovechkin’s goal came with Gaustad still in the box after Mike Green’s centering feed deflected off of Brooks Laich’s left skate to Ovechkin who fired a hard slap shot past Miller for his 24th goal of the season and third in the last two games.
The win was especially satisfying for the Capitals who were shut out by Miller and the Sabres, 3-0, on Dec. 9 in Buffalo. Miller stopped all 35 Capitals shots that night as the Sabres ended what had been a six game winning streak for Washington.
However, the Capitals beat Miller twice within their first four shots, the second coming on a slap shot by Green that deflected off of Derek Roy’s stick past Miller’s catching glove at 6:47, to put to bed any chance of a repeat performance.
“If you don’t score he makes big saves at the end of the game,” said Green, who’s goal was his seventh of the season. “It was important we got after him right away. That’s why we were successful.”
Backstrom’s first goal came on a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Miller high to the glove side after Ovechkin passed to Backstrom from the right circle. After a slow start that saw Backstrom score just four goals in the first 26 games of the season he now has 10 goals in the last 11 games.
“Yeah, Bruce tell me to shoot more and everything,” said Backstrom. “So, I am trying to do that on the rebounds and I have had some luck the last two games.”
The Capitals dominated the first period outshooting the Sabres 15-4 and outscoring them 2-0. The game changed a bit in the second period as the Sabres came out with more intensity in an effort to get back into the game.
Gaustad scored 5:04 into the period on an abbreviated power play on a shot that beat Neuvirth five-hole to pull the Sabres within one.
Morrison tallied 5:44 later to restore the Capitals two-goal lead, but before they could get comfortable, Tim Connolly deflected a shot from Steve Montador past Neuvirth to pull the Sabres within 3-2 heading into the third period.
After Rivet was called for hooking at 9:20 of the third, Gaustad was whistled for tripping Fleischmann at the Sabres blueline which gave the Capitals a two-man advantage for 51 seconds.
Backstrom and Ovechkin made the Sabres pay as their ensuing goals put the game out of reach.

Second Period Re-cap

The Capitals were far less steller in the second period then they were in the first. The Capitals allowed 20 shots, gave up two goals, but did manage a tally of their own to take a 3-2 lead into the third period.

Paul Gaustad got the Sabres on the board at 5:04 on a shot from the left circle that beat Neuvirth 5-hole. The Sabres caught the Capitals attempting to change lines which allowed Derek Roy to skate free into the zone before sending a pass to Gaustad.

Brendan Morrison ended his goal scoring draught with a highlight reel goal at 10:48. Morrison gathered the rebound off of Tom Fleischmann's shot and beat Miller with a pretty forehand shot between his legs to restore the Capitals two-goal lead.

The advantage was short lived as Tim Connolly deflected a Steve Montador shot past Neuvirth 2:04 later.

First Period Re-cap

The Washington Capitals played as complete a period of hockey as a team can play in the first period. Nicklas Backstrom got things started 1:18 into the period as he beat Sabres goalie Ryan Miller high to glove side on a wrist shot from the high slot. Alex Ovechkin fed Backstrom from the right circle after the two had chased the puck into the right corner.

5:29 later, Mike Green pushed the Capitals lead to 2-0 on a slap shot that deflected off a sprawling Derek Roy's stick and over Miller's catching glove. The shot was just the fourth of the game for the Capitals, who outshot the Sabres 15-4 in the period.

Washington's line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Alexander Semin put the most pressure on Miller, but the Capitals line of Brooks Laich, Chris Clark and Erich Fehr were just as solid.

Fehr and Clark assisted on Green's goal, then almost pushed the lead to 3-0 when Laich and Clark both had chances in tight on Miller. Miller stopped Laich's backhand with the rebound coming to Clark. Clark, however, did not get all of the puck on the shot and Miller subsequently covered the puck.

Pre game notes

Hey Caps fans,

The Capitals are getting ready to take the ice for tonight's matchup with the Buffalo Sabres. Here is tonight's starting line-up.

John Erksine and Karl Alzner will start on the blueline for the Capitals while Erick Fehr, Chris Clark and Brooks Laich are tonight's starting forwards.

Rookie Michael Neuvirth gets the start between the pipes after Saturday's strong showing against Edmonton.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Second Period Wrap Up

By: Justin Creech

The Capitals were still sluggish at the start of the period despite getting a couple of descent scoring chances. Things changed at 13:07 when Alexander Semin took a cross ice pass from Alex Ovechkin and beat Cam Ward high to the glove side on a wrist shot from the left circle.

It appeared the Hurricanes were going to regain their hold on the game at 18:06 when Tuomo Ruutu appeared to score on a Hurricanes power play. The play was ruled a no goal and after video review the ruling was held up.

That gave the Capitals the break they needed to tie the game. Nicklas Backstrom hit Semin at center ice with a pass from the Capitals defensive zone, and Semin outskated Tim Gleason to the Carolina net. Semin momentarily lost the puck as he tried to cut in front of Gleason, but regained the puck in time to beat Ward, who had laid out in an attempt to knock the puck away, at 19:59 to tie the game.

First Period Update

By: Justin Creech

The first period got off to an inauspicious start for the Capitals. Just 2:01 in Jiri Tlusty got the Hurricanes on the board after tipping in a one-time pass from Brandon Sutter. Sutter took a pass from Tom Kostopoulos in the neutral zone and got the puck passed John Erskine's stick as Erskine attempted to defend the pass.

Erick Staal extended the Hurricane's lead 11:55 later on a fluky goal. Staal attempted a wrap around on Jose Theodore who stopped the initial shot. However, Staal second wack bounced up over Theodore's left shoulder and slide just passed the goal line before Theodore could get his glove on it.

Pre-Game Notes

Hey Caps fans,

Tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes is about to start, so here are the key pre-game notes.
-Jose Theodore will start for the second consecutive game for the injured Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov is currently out with a lower body injury he suffered in the final seconds of Monday night's win at Tampa. Theodore allowed three goals in Wednesday's loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
-Mike Knuble returns after missing 11 games with a broken finger. He will most likely skate on the first line tonight with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
-The Caps are 7-0 versus the Southeast Division this season posting a perfect 7-0-0 record.
-Tonight's starting line features Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin skating alongside center Brendan Morrison.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Capitals Roll in Semin’s Return

Washington, DC—Two-time reigning league Most Valuable Player Alex Ovechkin missed Thursday night’s game with the Florida Panthers while serving a two game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit on Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason Monday night in Carolina.
It would be doubtful, however, if anyone noticed.
Alexander Semin returned from a seven game absence due to an injured wrist and did everything his Russian teammate provides and a bit more. Semin tallied twice, once to start the scoring 10:34 into the first period and second at 3:19 of the third period with the game already out of reach. Semin also added two assists as the Capitals rolled to an easy 6-2 win at Verizon Center.
Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Bradley, Nicklas Backstrom, and Brendan Morrison provided the rest of the Capitals scoring as the Capitals scored twice in each of the three periods.
“It’s always difficult to come back and play your first game after an injury,” said Semin who also added two assists. “But the team played well and they helped me get back to my game, and I really didn’t think about it being the first game without [Ovechkin]. I’m just glad to be back.”
Semin’s first goal came on a wrist shot from the middle of the slot after the Panthers failed to clear the puck. Semin took the puck off the near wall and skated through the left circle before firing passed Florida’s Scott Clemmensen.
The outburst doubled his point total during the six games that Ovechkin missed in November. Semin registered just two points, both goals, during the six game stretch with both goals coming in the Nov 11 win over the New York Islanders.
Semin, however, downplayed any extra effort due to Ovechkin being out.
“It’s just like a regular game,” said Semin. “We go out and play as a team. That’s the key word. Of course it’s bad that he didn’t play tonight but what can you do?”
It looked like the Capitals were on their way to an easy win until early in the third period. Florida right winger Mike Duco took exception to an Alexander Giroux hit and punched Giroux at center ice. Duco followed Giroux, who laid flat on the ice with his hands over his head, as Giroux slid to the far boards throwing punches. Several Capitals, including Captain Chris Clark, came to Giroux’s aid.
Clark could be seen mouthing less then friendly words to Duco as the scrum was being separated.
Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau was clearly upset about the situation afterwards, saying Duco’s actions were an example of how the league has evolved.
“It’s almost what the game has come to,” said Boudreau. “You get a good hit and not a hard hit and you take exception to a hit. Hockey used to be that you hit a guy hard and that’s what it’s all about. Now you hit a guy hard and you think you’ve got to retaliate. It’s stupid.”
Duco acknowledged after the game that his actions were a bit hasty, but said he felt Giroux was taking shots at the Panthers younger players.
“I acted suddenly and probably shouldn’t have but that’s part of the game and if he wants to take liberties on our younger guys people have to stick up for them,” said Duco. “I just tried to do what I could. I might have done the wrong thing at the time but things happen.”
Duco said he was surprised Giroux didn’t come back at him since the two had a couple battles in the American Hockey league last season. Giroux had a different take.
“I don’t even know who he is,” said Giroux.
The scrum resulted in a seven minute power play for the Capitals as Duco was assessed with a two-minute instigator penalty, five-minutes for fighting, a 10-minute game misconduct and a 10-minute aggressor penalty.
The Capitals struck twice on the extended power play to effectively put the game out of reach. Morrison and Semin tallied on the power play as the Capitals registered three power play goals in a game for the first time since April 3, 2009 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Bradley’s goal, which came at 2:45 of the second period, put the game of reach far before Duco’s meltdown.
Bradley skated into the Panthers zone and put a soft shot on Florida netminder Alexander Salak, who came in after Clemmensen was pulled in the first period, from just inside the blue line. The puck somehow found its way into the back of the net putting the Capitals up 3-0.
“It was a lucky goal but it makes up for one that you think you should have,” said Bradley who has five goals on the season. “It was a lucky bounce but I’ll take it.”
Boudreau acknowledged Bradley’s goal being the turning point, but also praised his team for once again stepping up without it’s best player.
“I think it shows the depth of the club,” said Boudreau. “Quite frankly, we haven’t played with a full line up this year. It’s good to see that we’ve got the ability as an organization to call up from Hershey or just guys who haven’t played that much can step up and do a really good job.”

Second Period Update

Nicklas Backstrom has just tallied on the power play for the Capitals. With the Capitals on a 5 on 3 due to Dmitry Kulikov and Gregory Campbell being in the penalty box, Alexander Semin, who was in the right circle, found Backstrom backdoor for an easy tap in at 5:13.

Backstroms goal came 14 seconds into the 5 on 3; 4-0 Caps.

Second Period Update

Matt Bradley has just tallied short handed for the Capitals. Bradley skated through the neutral zone, then upon entering the Florida zone first a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that beat Clemmensen at 3:45. The goal is Bradley's fifth of the season and was unassisted.

3-0 Caps.

First Period Update

Tomas Fleischmann just recorded his eigth goal of the season for the Capitals. Fleischmann got a slap pass from Eric Fehr in the left cirlce after Fehr had taken a pass from Brendan Morrison. Fleischmann skated to the middle of the slot and fired a shot past Clemmensen's glove.

The goal was Fleischmann's first in seven games.

First Period Update

Alexander Semin has just tallied for the Capitals. Semin picked up the puck in the left circle after Brooks Laich prevented a Florida forward from getting to the puck. Semin put a snap shot past Panthers netminder Scott Clemmensen for his 10th goal of the season.

The shot was eighth of the game for the Capitals. Time of the goal 10:32.

First Period Update

Alexander Semin is back tonight after a seven game absence and this could not have come at a better time considering Alex Ovechkin is out due to suspension.

Semin is skating on the first line with Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich. Tomas Fleischmann, Brendan Morrison and Eric Fehr are the second line tonight for the Capitals. Semyon Varlamov is in goal.