Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wilson Wins Game in Comeback Fashion

Kyle Wilson’s Game Winner With 2:31 Left Completes Hershey’s 3rd Period Rally

Hershey Bears 3, Albany River Rats 2
Boxscore
(Photo Courtesy of Just Sports Photography)

The Bears scored first but needed two third period goals in order to prevail in Albany tonight before 3,004 fans at the Times Union Center.

Despite the River Rats controlling the action early on, including recording 9 of the games first 10 shots on goal, Joey Tenute was able to tally the game’s first goal at the 13:07 mark of the opening period. His shot from the right circle beat goaltender Tyler Weiman five-hole, thanks to a nice screen in front by newcomer Scott Barney. The 6′4″ 225 pound winger made a habit of causing traffic in front of the River Rats net on several occasions tonight, giving the Bears something to look forward to down the stretch run to the playoffs.

Albany scored the next two goals in the second period to take the lead following a Ryan Bayda point blank shot on the power play and a Tim Conboy wrister from the point. The Rats would take that advantage into the final period where they were looking for their second straight win over the Bears after snapping their 19 game losing streak earlier this month in Hershey.

It was not to be this time as Kip Brennan notched his second goal of the season just 3:12 in. With the game tied heading into the final minutes, Matt Hendricks was able to draw a key holding penalty on Kyle Cumiskey giving the Bears a power play. Kyle Wilson would capitalize on the man advantage. He received a pass from the point off the stick of Alexandre Giroux and roofed it over Weiman into the top right corner from directly in front of the net. Wilson’s 14th of the season would end up being the game winner as Mike Green would add an empty netter from his own blue line with just 6 seconds remaining to give the Bears the 4-2 victory.

The win improved Hershey’s record to 36-13-5-5, giving them 82 points and moving them within 1 point of the 1st place Norfolk Admirals who were idle tonight. The Bears find themselves on a role winning 4 of their last 5 heading in clear day tomorrow, where playoff rosters need to be set by 3:00 PM. They could still make a few moves before then as Frederic Cassivi will most likely be sent down, at least on paper, in order to be eligible for Hershey’s Calder Cup run.

Game Notes:

Jamie Hunt, Donny Grover, Pete Vandermeer, and Chad Wiseman were scratched…. In John Walton’s pre-game report head coach Bruce Boudreau said that the team can expect to name a captain soon after Nycholat will officially not be back following his trade to Ottawa…. Nolan Schaefer will not be back with the team after he was traded by San Jose to Pittsburgh at the NHL trade deadline…. Maxime Daigneault had 30 saves to improve his record to 16-4-0 on the year.

Hedlund and Barney In, Helbling and Johansson Out

hershey-bears.gif

Hershey Bears (35-13-5-5, 80 points)

at

albany-river-rats.gif

Albany River Rats (26-25-2-2, 56 points)

Television: B2Networks

Radio: Bears Network (100.1 FM, 1490-AM, 960-AM)

Gametime: 7:00 PM ET

Hershey's roster will have some new faces when they travel to the Times Union Center in Albany to take on the River Rats Wednesday night. Gone are defenseman Timo Helbling, who was part of the Capitals' trade of Danius Zubrus to Buffalo, and Jonas Johansson, who was sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins on loan in exchange for Scott Barney (Pictured). The Bears will also acquired Andy Hedlund as part of the Capitals trade with the Ottawa Senators that involved former Hershey captain Lawrence Nycholat.
(Photo Courtesy of www.moosehockey.com)

Barney, a 6'4" 225 pound forward who will turn 28-years old next month, is a former 30-goal scorer in the AHL and has spent time in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings and the Atlanta Thrashers. In 40 games this season with the Griffins he has 4 goals and 8 assists to go along with 26 penalty minutes and a -1 defensive rating.

The 28-year old Hedlund has spent his entire season so far with the Binghamton Senators, where he played against the Bears as recently as this past Sunday's game at the Giant Center. In 56 games this season he has accumulated 6 goals and 21 assists to go along with 84 penalty minutes and a -6 defensive rating. The 6'2" 216 pound defenseman should provide Hershey with the veteran leadership they have lacked since losing Nycholat to the NHL in December.

Barney's career statistics from The Internet Hockey Database:


Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1995-96 Peterborough Petes OHL 60 22 24 46 52 24 6 8 14 38
1997-98 Peterborough Petes OHL 62 44 32 76 60 4 1 0 1 6
1998-99 Peterborough Petes OHL 44 41 26 67 80 5 4 1 5 4
2000-01 Did Not Play Ind Statistics Unavailable




2002-03 Manchester Monarchs AHL 57 13 5 18 74 -- -- -- -- --
2003-04 Manchester Monarchs AHL 44 20 14 34 28 6 2 3 5 8
2005-06 Chicago Wolves AHL 53 32 19 51 54 -- -- -- -- --
2006-07 Grand Rapids Griffins* AHL 40 4 8 12 26




2006-07 Hershey Bears AHL Stats Unavailable

NHL Totals
27 5 6 11 4

Hedlund's career statistics from The Internet Hockey Database:


Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1997-98 Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks USHL 56 4 12 16 135 4 0 4 4 0
2000-01 Minnesota State U - Mankato NCAA 38 6 6 12 64




2001-02 Trenton Titans ECHL 2 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 6
2002-03 Binghamton Senators AHL 59 1 7 8 48 10 0 0 0 0
2004-05 Binghamton Senators AHL 75 2 13 15 103 6 0 2 2 25
2006-07 Binghamton Senators* AHL 56 6 21 27 84




2006-07 Hershey Bears AHL Stats Unavailable

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Caps Lose Free For All in Shootout

Ovechkin Breaks Out of His Slump, But Team Falls to 1-9 in Shootouts This Season
Florida Panthers 6, Washington Capitals 5 F/SO
Boxscore
(Photo Courtesy of Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Both the Panthers and Capitals came into tonight's matchup shorthanded following an active day at the trade deadline. This led to an interesting game as players found themselves playing in situations they are not normally used to being in.

One example of this was Brian Sutherby's promotion to centering the team's first line between Ovechkin and Brashear. In response, the Edmonton, Alberta native had a two point night and tallied the 1st power play goal of his career. He also won 12 out of 14 faceoffs, making a statement to the coaching staff that he deserves to see more playing time down the stretch.

Washington railed from an early 3-0 deficit to make a game of it. The bright spot of the night was none other than Alex Ovechkin, who took advantage of the free flowing game and finally broke out of his scoring slump notching 2 goals and 2 assists on the night. After losing his center and father figure Danius Zubrus earlier in the day to the Buffalo Sabres, Ovechkin responded and displayed the game changing speed and deadly shot that he has been lacking in recent weeks. His 4 point night was the 1st of the season for a Caps player and pulled him within 4 goals of the NHL leader, Vincent Lecavalier who has 41. He did this all while leading the team in ice time with 26:33 on the night.

Olli Jokinen led the Panthers attack recording a hat trick by the 3:29 mark of the second period. It was the third 3 goal game on the season for Florida's scoring leader. And he almost got his forth goal of the game as a game winning attempt in overtime beat Cassivi with a nice snap shot, but the puck clanged off the inside of the post forcing another dreaded shootout situation for both clubs.

If there is any team that has struggled more than the Caps in the shootout this season it is the Florida Panthers. They came into tonight having yet to win in the competition going 0 for 7 on the season. Goals by Jozef Stumpel and Ville Peltonen changed that luck however, finally getting the team into the win column.

Game Notes:

The Panthers made 3 trades before the deadline, dealing Gary Roberts and Joel Kwiatkowski to Pittsburgh, and Todd Bertuzzi to Detroit.... Frederic Cassivi saw NHL action for the first time this season, replacing Brent Johnson after he allowed 4 first period goals.... Following today's trades the Caps roster was short handed forcing Brian Muir back into the lineup for the first time since December.... Mike Vogel announced during the second period that the team expects Jiri Novotny to be in the lineup for Saturday night's game against Richard Zednik and the New York Islanders.

Zubrus and Heward Dealt at Deadline

Danius Zubrus to Buffalo for Jiri Novotny and a 1st Round Pick

To For

Overall this is an amazing return for a player that has proven that he is nothing more than a second line center or better yet a right wing. The problem with Zubrus has never been his skill level, where at times he has displayed what a dominate player he can be. He has just never been able to provide the consistency needed to be a first line player, as he has a tendency to disappear for extended periods. While it would have been nice to keep him in Washington for his leadership, his contract demands at the moment did not make that possible.

In Novotny, the Caps get the young center that they coveted who is a former first round pick of the Sabres in 2001. He is a player that has excelled at every level he has played at, but with the quality depth in Buffalo, he has yet to receive an opportunity to play a key role at the NHL level. In Washington he will definitely get that opportunity as he should step right in to the top line with Ovechkin. Novotny's profile from The Internet Hockey Database:

Jiri Novotny
Center
Born Aug 12 1983 -- Pelhrimov, Czech Rep.
Height 6.02 -- Weight 194 -- Shoots R


Selected by Buffalo Sabres round 1 #22 overall 2001 NHL Entry Draft

--- Regular Season --- ---- Playoffs ----
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2000-01 Ceske Budejovice HC Czech 19 0 4 4 2 -- -- -- -- --
2001-02 Ceske Budejovice HC Czech 41 8 6 14 6 -- -- -- -- --
2002-03 Rochester Americans AHL 43 2 9 11 14 3 0 1 1 10
2003-04 Rochester Americans AHL 48 1 14 15 16 13 0 1 1 10
2004-05 Rochester Americans AHL 61 5 20 25 36 9 2 2 4 4
2005-06 Rochester Americans AHL 66 17 37 54 40 -- -- -- -- --
2005-06 Buffalo Sabres NHL 14 2 1 3 0 4 0 0 0 0
2006-07 Buffalo Sabres NHL 50 6 7 13 26
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NHL Totals 64 8 8 16 26 4 0 0 0 0



Jamie Heward to Los Angeles For a Conditional Draft Pick in 2008

To

This seems to be nothing more than move to make some space on the Capitals blue line. With the recent return of Pothier, Erskine, and Muir from injuries, the team had too many defenseman. This opens up a spot for Eminger to get back into the lineup after he had been a healthy scratch for the past 6 games. It also means that Jeff Schultz has solidified his spot in the lineup for the rest of the season. The conditional draft pick most likely is contingent on whether Heward resigns with the Kings over the summer.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Trade Analysis So Far

To
Richard Zednik to NY for a 2nd Round Pick

Well you have to give General Manager credit, he once again got good value out of a spare part. Last year he traded Jeff Freisen to Anaheim for a 2nd round pick after acquiring him for a 3rd round pick over the summer. He pulled off the same manuever this season after acquiring Zednik from the Canadians for a 3rd round pick in the off-season. However, the last thing this team really needs is more draft picks. I would have liked to of seen the Caps try to pry center Robert Nielsson from the Islanders, even if it took a mid-round pick in addition to Zednik in order to complete.

ToFor
Lawrence Nycholat to Ottawa for Andy Hedlund and a 6th Round Pick

A move that will provide a boost to Hershey's blue line for their playoff run. Washington determined that they would not be able to pass Nycholat through waivers so they did the next best thing. In moving him on to Ottawa, they got a late round pick and a veteran defenseman that is already at the AHL level so they don't have to worry about losing him through waivers. Hershey will be grateful. Being that he's 28 and has yet to play in the NHL, tt's unlikely that he will see time with the Caps unless injuries force the issue. His career numbers:


Regular SeasonPlayoffs
SeasonTeamLgeGPGAPtsPIMGPGAPtsPIM
1997-98 Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks USHL 56 4 12 16 135 4 0 4 4 0
1999-00 Minnesota State U - Mankato NCAA 36 4 2 6 58




2000-01 Minnesota State U - Mankato NCAA 38 6 6 12 64




2001-02 Minnesota State U - Mankato NCAA 37 5 10 15 48




2001-02 Trenton Titans ECHL 2 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 6
2002-03 Trenton Titans ECHL 13 1 2 3 14 ----------
2002-03 Binghamton Senators AHL 59 1 7 8 48 10 0 0 0 0
2003-04 Binghamton Senators AHL 80 4 19 23 108 2 0 0 0 2
2004-05 Binghamton Senators AHL 75 2 13 15 103 6 0 2 2 25
2005-06 Krefeld Penguins DEL 52 12 22 34 100 5 0 2 2 6
2006-07 Binghamton Senators AHL 56 5 21 26 84





Two down, perhaps two to go in Zubrus and Heward. Stay tuned.

Successful Weekend Pulls Bears Within 3 Points of Division Leader

Winless Weekend for Norfolk Tightens Race for the East Division Crown

Sunday: Hershey Bears 5, Binghamton 2 Boxscore
Saturday: Philadelphia Phantoms 3, Hershey Bears 2 Boxscore
Friday: Hershey Bears 3, Philadelphia Phantoms 0 Boxscore

(Photo Courtesy of Michael Fernandez/The Patriot-News)

A week after dropping both games at home to the Albany River Rats and the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Bears entered this weekend’s slate of games 7 points behind the first place Norfolk Admirals in the East Division. After splitting a home-and-home series with the Phantoms, Hershey finished up the weekend in a winning fashion, defeating the Binghamton Senators 5-2.

Yesterday, the Bears found themselves in a tough battle with the last place Senators. With the game tied at 2 in the third period, Kyle Wilson was able to tally what ended up being the game winning goal taking a nice feed from Jakub Klepis and beating goaltender Kelly Guard from the right circle. Hershey ended up firing 45 shots on Guard during the night and goals by Mike Green, his first in the AHL this season, and Quinton Lang, his 12th, in the final five minutes of the game would make the final score look a lot more one-sided than the game actually was.

Maxime Daigneault continued his superior play since the team lost both Frederic Cassivi and Nolan Schaefer to NHL recalls, making 23 saves in route to improving his record to 15-4-0 on the season. He saw action in all three of the Bears games making 31 saves in a shutout win at Philadelphia on Friday night and then stopping all 10 shots he faced in relief of Jeff Pietrasiak Saturday night.

Jakub Klepis was also a key factor this weekend notching a goal and two assists to go along with some solid physical play that is making people, such as his coach Bruce Boudreau, take notice. His coach had this to say following Sunday’s game: (From Pennlive.com)

“In Washington, they compete, compete, compete and they talk to Jakub a lot about that,” Boudreau said. “He’s come down here and he’s hit probably in the 15 games he’s played more than he hit last year. That’s a really positive step in his development.”

With the NHL trading deadline set for tomorrow afternoon, and the Capitals letting it be known that they will be active, Hershey could once again find themselves the beneficiary of some quality additions for their playoff run. Last year a Washington trade with Nashville for veteran Brendan Witt brought them Kris Beech who was a key member of the Bears Calder Cup championship team. This year the team will be looking to deal forwards Danius Zubrus and Richard Zednik along with a veteran defenseman or two that could include Jamie Heward. Zubrus in particular should bring some attractive young prospects that could potentially see some time with Hershey during the remainder of the season. It also remains to be seen if the Capitals make any moves with some of their depth players such as Beech or Lawrence Nycholat who would need to pass through waivers in order to be reassigned to the team.

It will definitely be something that all fans in Hershey will need to watch as any moves Washington makes will directly effect the Bears and their clear day roster.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Viktor Dovgan Interview

An interview with the Capitals' young defensive prospect courtesy of The Post and Courier at www.Charleston.net.


One-on-One with Viktor Dovgan

(Photo Courtesy of www.ECHL.com)

South Carolina Stingrays rookie Viktor Dovgan is playing his first season of professional hockey in the United States. A native of Moscow, Dovgan was a seventh-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals in 2005. Dovgan is taking classes to improve his English, but needed the help of interpreter Walter Jankov when he went one-on-one with The Post and Courier's Andrew Miller.

What do you think of the United States?
"I love America. I love playing here. The United States is much cleaner than Russia.
All the people are very nice."

What do you like the most about Charleston?
"I haven't seen as much of Charleston as I would like. I would like to get out more and see more of the city. I love the people here in Charleston. I love the weather. In Moscow right now, it's very cold, so I'm glad to be here."

You and your wife (Oksana) had a baby boy in December. What's it like to be a new father?
"I love it. It's super. I don't see Ilya enough. He and Oksana are back in Moscow, but every time I'm on the ice he is in my heart. I miss him ? a lot. It's very tough to be away from him."

Why didn't you bring Oksana to the U. S.?
"When I signed with Washington, Oksana was pregnant, so I couldn't bring her with me. I'm on the road all the time now, so it's probably best that she didn't come this season. But it's tough. I miss her.
I miss Ilya. I went home to Moscow to see them over Christmas. I was there about two weeks. It was very difficult to leave them and come back to play hockey.

You've scored three goals this season. What was it like to get your first professional goal?
"It was super. I got a beautiful pass from Cail MacLean and I took the shot and I was lucky it went in."

Do you consider yourself more of an offensive defenseman or a stay-at-home defenseman?
"I think of myself as more of an offensive defenseman. I like to join the rush and get into the play."

Is the hockey played differently in North America?
"In North America, once you get to the blue line you have to give up the puck and dump it in and then everyone goes and chases it. In Russia, you don't do that. You get to the blue line and you don't dump the puck. You skate with the puck, you move the puck and try to make plays."

Capitalism or Communism?
"No communism. Capitalism ( laughing)."

Mikhail Gorbachev or Vladimir Putin?
"Putin."

Anna Kournikova or Maria Sharapova?
"I love Sharapova."

Who was your favorite Russian player growing up?
"Sergei Gonchar. I like the way he moved the puck. I liked Darius Kasparaitis as well."

What's your favorite American music?
"I like rap. No country."

Do you have an iPod and how many songs do you have?
"Yes. About 400. I've got some American music and some Russian music on there."

Got a favorite American movie?
"I mostly like comedies. But I liked Spider Man, too."

What was the feeling in Russia about the 1980 ?Miracle on Ice' Olympic hockey game between the United States and the Soviet Union?
"I think the Russian team took the U. S. too lightly. They didn't think the Americans could beat them. Some people in Russia think they lost the game on purpose to make their coach look bad. I don't think so. They just underestimated the college players. They came on the ice and didn't think they could lose."

Devils Lull Caps into Submission

This Time Bounces Go the Devils Way as Teams Split Weekend Home-and-Home Series

New Jersey Devils 3, Washington Capitals 2
Boxscore
(Photo Courtesy of Greg Fiume/Getty Images)


After yesterday's disappointing loss at home, the Devils made sure they established their style of play in today's game. And they accomplished that to perfection, using their neural zone trap and sound defensive positioning to lull their opponents and everyone in the Verizon Center to sleep.

The home team was able to strike first however, taking a 1-0 lead after a John Erskine shot from the point deflected off a Devils defenceman right to the front of the net, where Brooks Laich snapped it home into the wide open net. The goal by the fourth line winger was Laich's 7th of the season and 1st since his demotion from the second line center position.

The 22-year old Zach Parise was able to strike back for the Devils just 5:34 into the second period, taking a nice feed from the left corner by Travis Zajac and beating goaltender Brent Johnson five-hole along the ice from point blank range. The play followed a couple of unsuccessful attempts by the Caps to clear the defensive zone.

In the third period the Devils were the recipients of a couple bounces. They struck early again, this time just 1:37 in as a Brian Rafalski shot from the point hit traffic and front and bounced directly to Zajac for the easy goal.

At the 9:13 mark, Alex Ovechkin was able to answer and tie the game at two after he used defenseman Paul Martin as a screen and wristed a shot high off of goaltender Scott Clemmensen and in. It was Ovechkin's 1st goal in his last 6 games, giving him 35 now on the season and hopefully putting his slump behind him.

But the Capitals were not able to celebrate for long, as only 35 seconds later Brian Pothier was called for a questionable tripping penalty after a diving poke check to the right of the net dislodged the puck from the Devils forward, but also sent him to the ice. The Devils capitalized with the extra man and tallied the game winning goal on another lucky bounce, as a Jamie Langenbrunner shot deflected off of Johnson's right shoulder high into the air and somehow found the back of the net. It was Langenbrunner's 20th goal of the season as he sent the Devils back to New Jersey victorious.

After seeing the Devils in action it's not hard to see why despite their success on the ice, they fail to draw crowds at the Meadowlands. Their style of play is just so boring, and while the lack of energy from the fans may have been somewhat attributed to the bad weather on the trip in, it was more a result of the slow play because of their defensive approach.

Game Notes:

Brent Johnson had another solid game in net, keeping his team in the game with a number a quality stops on his way to 26 saves on the afternoon.... In what might have been their final game with the Caps, Danius Zubrus won 10 of 11 faceoffs and Richard Zednik notched a secondary assist on Laich's opening goal.... Scott Clemmensen gave Martin Brodeur the day off and stopped 23 shots in the Devils win.

Caps/Devils Preview


New Jersey Devils (38-18-6, 82 points)
at
Washington Capitals (24-28-10, 58 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WTNT 570-AM
Gametime: 1:00 PM ET

When the Caps and Devils hit the ice today at the Verizon Center, the NHL's trade deadline will be a little more than 48 hours away. What that means is that this might be the last time a few select players get a chance to wear a Capitals sweater.

Danius Zubrus and Richard Zednik seem to be the most sought after assets Washington has. Both players will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, and while the team has expressed interest in resigning them, neither is close to an agreement. If extensions are not reached before the deadline the word is that they will be dealt.

The Caps could also part with a few other players in hopes of solving their current logjam on the blue line. Veterans Jamie Heward and Brian Muir have both been involved in trade rumors over the past few days. The only problem with trading them is, what can you get in return? Is it really worth dealing them for middle round draft picks, which is about as much as I can see them getting in individual deals. Their is always the possibility that they could package them together with Zubrus or Zednik in hopes of increasing their overall value. All of this should lead to an exciting couple of days as the team prepares to make moves to improve the team for the long haul.

As for the game itself, the Capitals will look to build on their solid performance in New Jersey in hopes of sweeping their weekend series against the Devils. While Alex Ovechkin was unable to break out of his current funk, going scoreless again in yesterday game, his fellow countryman Alexander Semin had a goal and assist to lead the Caps to the win. The team also got offense contributions from Boyd Gordon (2 assists), Matt Pettinger (SH goal), Milan Jurcina (1st goal with Caps), and Tomas Fleichmann (1st NHL goal, picured) to provide an unexpected offensive explosion against one of the best goaltenders in the game today.
(Photo Courtesy of Bill Kostroun/AP)

Before yesterday's result the plan was for the Devils to rest Martin Brodeur today and start his seldom used backup Scott Clemmensen. But now it wouldn't surprise anyone if Brodeur is back in the net again today in a game New Jersey would hate to lose.

Heading into the weekend, the Caps had already announced their intentions to play Brent Johnson in both games. On Saturday, he finally was able to win his first game in the fifth start he's had since since replacing the injured Olie Kolzig, and picked up his first career victory over the Devils.

The key to the game will once again be to get out to a good start and avoid falling behind a Devils team that is traditionally hard to come from behind on. Plus, you have to expect New Jersey to be extra prepared for this game following yesterday's outcome.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Caps Get the Bounces, End 7 Game Losing Streak at the Meadowlands

Team Gets Their First Victory Over the Devils Since March 29, 2002
Washington Capitals 4, New Jersey Devils 2
Boxscore
(Photo Courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Playing without their top two right wingers, Chris Clark and rookie Eric Fehr, and facing arguably the best goaltender in the game in Martin Brodeur, the Caps prospects for success in New Jersey had to be glim.

Coming into today's game my key to victory was for the Caps to get some lucky bounces and get on the board first. That's exactly what they were able to do as just 8:43 into the first period defenseman Milan Jurcina took a nice feed from Alexander Semin, and wristed a shot from the point that found it's way through the traffic in front, courtesy of Ovechkin and Beech, and past goaltender Martin Brodeur. It was Juricina's 1st goal with the Capitals and 3rd of the season as he was on his way to another quality outing, leading the team in ice time with 25:46. The goal was subject to debate by Capitals commentators Joe Benenati and Craig Laughlin throughout the game as it was originally credited to Ovechkin, while Benenati believed it should of belonged to Beech. In the end though it was awarded to Jurcina.

Washington did an excellent job in the first period of shutting down the Devils attack and staying out of the penalty box. The 8 shots New Jersey was able to get on net only seemed to build the confidence of goaltender Brent Johnson as he appeared to be on top of his game.

The Capitals continued to put on the pressure in the second and were able to extend there lead to 3-0 following goals by Semin and Pettinger just two minutes apart. Semin scored the Caps second goal of the game on a short side breakaway thanks to an end to end pass from Kris Beech. As he approached the net, Brodeur went for the pokecheck and Semin was able to beat him with a nice backhand into the top of the net. Pettinger provided the third goal of the game shorthanded on a perfect lead pass by Boyd Gordon off the side boards that sent him in on a breakaway. Again the backhand was the choice of attack and Pettinger and able to roof the shot over the goaltender's blocker side. Gordon's assist was his 6th shorthanded point of the season tying him for second place in the NHL behind only the Lightning's Martin St. Louis who has 7.

Halfway through the second period the Caps were on the verge of extending their lead to 4 on the power play when Brodeur was able to make back-to-back quality saves on both Ovechkin and Zubrus as Washington's power play was expiring. On the counter attack the Devils were finally able to beat Brent Johnson as New Jersey's resident tough guy Cam Janssen rifled a slap shot from just inside the Capitals blue line and into the back of the net. It was Janssen's first career NHL goal.

Washington was able to reestablish their three goal lead in the third period as Tomas Fleichmann would tally his first career NHL goal. He took a breakaway pass from Gordon as he exited the penalty box and beat Brodeur's poke check with a backhand shot that deflected off of the goaltenders stick and floated into the net. Fleichmann had a solid game taking Eric Fehr's spot on the team's second line. Besides his goal, he was +2 defensively and had 2 hits and 4 shots on goal in 13:23 of ice time.

That goal would be the icing on the cake as the Devils were only able to beat Johnson once more after a lucky bounce resulted in an empty net opportunity for Jay Pandolfo making the final 4-2. Johnson made some key stops in the remaining minutes to deny the Devils of pulling any closer.

John Erskine provided the physical highlights of the game with several big collisions recording 3 hits on the night and winning a fight with the Devils' Cam Janssen with five minutes remaining in the game. He used his reach and strength advantage to continuously hit Janssen with solid rights.

Donald Brashear acquitted himself well in his first game on the top line and had an excellent scoring chance denied by Brodeur in the closing minute of the opening period. He had a wide open shot from the right circle courtesy of a nice cross ice pass from Ovechkin. His high wrist shot was thwarted by Brodeur as he stacked his pads while diving across the goal.

Entering the game the talk was that New Jersey would start goaltender Scott Clemmensen in tomorrow's game at the Verizon Center in order to give Brodeur some much needed rest. But with the result of today's game those plans might change. No matter who is in goal, the Caps will need every bit of the effort they showed today in order to come out victorious again at home.

Game Notes:

Ben Clymer (healthy), Eric Fehr (lower back), and Steve Eminger (healthy) were the scratches.... Brent Johnson won his first career game over the Devils. He is expected to get the start again tomorrow with Frederic Cassivi continuing to back him up.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Caps/Devils Preview


Washington Capitals (23-28-10, 56 points)
at
New Jersey Devils (38-17-6, 82 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: Sportstalk 980-AM
Gametime: 1:00 PM ET

It's the first of a home and home afternoon series this weekend as the Caps travel to the Garden State to take on Martin Brodeur and the Atlantic Division leaders.

Again Washington will face arguably one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment as the Devils are 9-3-1 in 13 games since the All-Star break. They are also 19-4-3 in their last 26 games and 26-8-5 in their last 39. At home this season they have an outstanding mark of 22-6-4. Why did I just throw all of those numbers at you? Because all of this means that the Caps will have to play some of their best hockey if they wish to come out of either contest this weekend with two points.

The Caps bring a 1-12-1 record in their last 14 road games into today's contest. The key will be a good start and hopefully some lucky bounces that can get this team on the board first, giving them the confidence they have surely lacked in recent outings. A repeat opening of their last road game in Montreal, where the Caps took 7 penalties and allowed 3 power play goals in the first period, and they will be in for a long and ugly weekend.

While it's hard to believe given the results this past week, goaltender Brent Johnson has filled in admirably for the injured Olie Kolzig recording a 2.65 goals against average and a .908 save percentage in the last four games.

If nothing else today's game will be another chance for Alex Ovechkin to try and break out of the current funk he is in. He has 0 points in his last 4 games and just 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 9. They will need him to find a way to contribute as the team will be without it's captain and first line right winger Chris Clark for the next 7 to 10 days with a shoulder sprain. In his place, Tomas Fleichmann was recalled from Hershey and should get the opportunity to step right into the Capitals top line. The speedy Czech winger has 20 goals and 27 assists so far this season in 43 games at the AHL level.

Bears Triumph in Philly

Hershey Get 2 Goals From Unlikely Sources in Victory
Hershey Bears 3, Philadelphia Phantoms 0

Boxscore
(Photo Courtesy of www.hamiltonbulldogs.com)

After Tomas Fleichmann was recalled to the Washington Capitals this afternoon the Bears knew that others would be needed to step up and fill in for the scoring slack. Coming into tonight’s game there were just two Bears regulars who hadn’t cracked the goal scoring sheet this season. It could not have been scripted any better as they would both contribute in Hershey’s win over their intrastate rivals.

Phantoms’ defenseman Nolan Baumgartner, who was placed on re-entry waivers by the Flyers earlier in the day, turned the puck over in his own zone directly leading to Dean Arsene’s 1st goal of the season for the Bears.

That would be all of the scoring until the third period. Phantoms’ center Matt Davis took what turned out to be a key holding penalty while his team had a man advantage with 5:20 remaining. The Bears would capitalize on the power play and put the game out of reach for good. Timo Helbling who would make you believe, at least for a moment, that he was a sniper by rifling a shot into the top right corner of the net beating goaltender Scott Munroe for his 1st goal of the season as well.

Maxime Daigneault would make the lead stand up as he provided Hershey with his second straight quality start making several big stops on his way to his 3rd shutout of the season. The win improved his record on the season to 13-4-0 and put him into a tie with Frederic Cassivi for the team lead in wins. He also improved his record to 4-0 on the season against Philadelphia. Alexandre Giroux would add an empty netter for his 33rd goal of the season to make the final 3-0.
These two teams will not have to wait long to see each other again as they will meet in a rematch tomorrow night at in what is expected to be a sold out Giant Center.

My Top Three Stars:

1. Dean Arsene, Hershey GW Goal

2. Maxime Daigneault, Hershey 31 Saves in Shutout

3. Timo Helbling, Hershey 1 pp goal

Game Notes:

Jamie Hunt, Tyler Sloan, Pete Vandermeer, and Kip Brennon were the scratches…. Tonight was the 125th regular season meeting between these two teams dating back to 1996…. With Tomas Fleichmann recalled earlier, Chad Wiseman returned to the lineup despite not yet being 100%.

Travis Morin Update

Washington's 9th Round Pick of 2004 Could Be a Steal. Article courtesy of www.mankatofreepress.com.

Senior has been Morin words can say

By Shane Frederick
The Free Press

MANKATOSitting out a game because of a
fighting penalty the game before, Minnesota State men’s hockey freshman Zach Harrison had to watch his team’s Dec. 29 game at Yale from the press box.
(Photo Courtesy of www.mankatofreepress.com)
While up there, the well-spoken rookie was coaxed into donning a headset and doing some color commentary during the Mavericks’ radio broadcast.
But as Harrison attempted to describe the action, teammate Travis Morin left him speechless.
“(Morin) came across the blue line and absolutely ripped a snap shot (for a goal),” Harrison recalled this week. “It was so fast. ... I was so in awe of how he did that.”
Morin has dropped a lot of jaws in his final season with the Mavericks. Tonight’s and Saturday’s games against Colorado College will be his final chance to do it before an audience at Midwest Wireless Civic Center.
The senior forward leads the Mavericks in scoring and ranks fifth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points. His 130 career points put him third on MSU’s Division I-era scoring list and 18th all-time.
After Morin scored a goal in MSU’s last home series against Michigan Tech, fans began the “Hobey Baker” chant, letting him know they believe he’s one of the nation’s best players.
In 2004, the Washington Capitals selected Morin in the ninth round of the National Hockey League draft. That now seems like quite the bargain for the 263rd overall pick.
“For whatever reason, he was underrated coming into this year,” Mavericks coach Troy Jutting said. “He’s getting a little more of what he deserves. ... He’s shown people that he’s a top-line performer in college hockey and is having a great senior season.”
Jutting didn’t underrate his co-captain, though.
With an otherwise neophyte team, the coach has given Morin a ton of ice time, the kind of minutes often reserved for top-tier defensemen, especially late in close games.
“Troy told me he’d be playing me a lot, and I’d have to be ready for that,” Morin said. “But that’s my job, and that’s what the team needs out of me. Power play, penalty kill, five on five, I have to be ready to go. As a hockey player, you want to be out there. You want to be playing.”
Up a goal or down a goal, Jutting said, he wants Morin on the ice in crunch time.
“I wish I had another one exactly like him,” Jutting said. “It’s easy to put him out there. He’s gifted offensively, but he’s also very good defensively. You can put him out there in all situations.”
If Morin wonders if the Mavericks’ youngsters are taking notice of his play, well, they are.
“His passion for the game inspires you as well,” Harrison said.
Harrison, a center, spent extra time working on his shot after practice Tuesday. He said he was trying to quicken his release and snap shots off the toe of his stick blade — perhaps trying to mimic what he saw Morin do that night against Yale.
“I just hope I can contribute the way (Morin) does,” Harrison said. “The goals, obviously, I’d love to do that, but the kind of leadership he brings, too.”
Morin is set to graduate in May with a degree in management. However, he said he might have the chance to sign with the Capitals after Minnesota State’s season ends.
But he’s not looking that far ahead. First, he said, he wants to try to lead the Mavericks to the WCHA Final Five for the first time since the year before he arrived in Mankato.
“Just to experience something beyond what we’ve already experienced would be amazing,” he said.
Perhaps that would leave Morin speechless.

Capitals Practice Recap for 2/23/07

Brian Pothier and Boyd Gordon were the first to hit the ice at 9:52 AM. With that, here are your lines for today:


Red - Ovechkin, Zubrus, Brashear, plus Jurcina and Morrisonn
Yellow - Semin, Beech, Fehr, plus Pothier and Erskine
Teal - Pettinger, Gordon, Bradley, plus Schultz and Heward
White - Clymer, Sutherby, Zednik, plus Laich, Nycholat and Eminger
Goalies - Johnson and Cassivi

Chris Clark and Brian Muir both did not practice. Although Muir came out at the end and did some light skating. With Clark out it was interesting to see Brashear being called to fill in on the 1st line. We'll see how long that lasts. Remember earlier in the year he was put on the second line in a brief experiment that lasted about a period. Also something worth noting, Eric Fehr left practice just ten minutes in. The word is he is suffering from a slight groin injury.

Coach Glen Hanlon started out practice by preaching to the team the importance of not turning the puck over at their own blue line, and as a result that seemed to be the main focus of the practice.

The first drill involved each line of five practicing exiting their zone with precise passes. Next was a breakout 2 on 0 drill with shots on goal. This was followed by another breakout drill where a player would take the put at the blue line and shoot on goal while another player would stand in front of the goal and try to deflect the pass. After shooting, the original player would skate to the opposite end of the rink, retrieve a puck and fire an outlet pass for a breakaway.

A lot of time was spend during 2 on 2 breakout drills. There would be 1 forward and 1 defenseman on each pairing. Once you went on offense, you would then go on defense. It was a fast paced drill that again focused on bringing the puck up the ice and entering the offense zone without turning the puck over. This was followed by 5 on 2 drills that once again focused on exiting their own zone and generating an attack up ice.

We then moved on to working on the power play. Since Clark is out, a second defenseman has now been inserted into the top line. Pothier now takes the point position in the umbrella formation with Semin and Heward on each board. Zubrus is assigned to the front of the net while Ovechkin is a roamer. The second line has Jurcina paired up with either Clymer or Schultz to go along with Pettinger, Beech, and Zednik.

A fifteen minute session of shootouts finished up practice with the team split up into two squads. The losing team each time was forced to do sit ups, push ups, and jumping jacks. Ovechkin continued to struggle going 0 for 4 on the day.

After practice Zubrus and Ovechkin (pictured) were having a good time trying to recreate his famous goal from last season.

I don't think many people got the notice of the change in time to 10 am because there was maybe about five people there. However, people were trickling in around 11 with some still arriving as I was leaving at 11:30.

Ottawa/Buffalo Feb 22, 2007

Ottawa's Chris Neil hits the Sabres' Chris Drury late which leads to a malay.

Senators vs Sabres Feb 22, 2007

The fight really got going after the next faceoff. The Sabres immediately retaliate, going after Ottawa's best player, Jason Spezza. Then all hell breaks loose, goalie fights and coaches screaming at each other. Old time hockey baby!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Inside Capitals Defenseman Brian Pothier

A nice article that talks about Pothier's move to Washington and his adjustment to life in Alexandria. Article courtesy of www.connectionnewspapers.com.
(Photo Courtesy of www.washingtoncaps.com)

From Defenseman To Daddy
Brian Pothier juggles family life with Capital career.
By Greg Wyshynski
February 21, 2007

Brian Pothier had picked the right time to have a career year. A defenseman for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators in 2006, his 35 points were more than his previous three seasons combined. His quick puck movement and smooth skating made him a prototypical player for the league’s new offense-friendly rules that were established during its season-canceling lockout.
All of this pointed to a windfall for Pothier as he entered free agency in the off-season.
But the lockout produced a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that had established a salary cap, and Pothier witnessed the league’s altered financial landscape firsthand — as much as the Senators wished to keep him, they couldn’t fit Pothier’s salary demands within their already inflated payroll.
“Things just didn’t work out in the negotiations with Ottawa. I loved it there, my family loved it there. We wanted to go back, but they just didn’t have room,” he said. “We decided we wanted to go to a place where we’d be a big part of it — step in, play some more minutes, contribute a little more.”
That place was Washington and that team was the Capitals, who had given up 306 goals the previous season — second-worst in the league. Looking to upgrade their defense, the Caps quickly signed Pothier last July to a four-year, multi-million dollar contract. “Brian is a mobile, puck-moving defenseman who has performed well in the new NHL,” said General Manager George McPhee at the time.
Pothier, 29, and his wife Gwen came to D.C. around July 15 and spent five days searching for a new home. Scouting Vienna, Bethesda and Arlington, they felt something different when they visited Alexandria.
“Just driving through the Old Town area, we really gravitated toward it,” he said. “Every time we said we were thinking about Alexandria, people would be like, ‘Yeah, it’s really neat.’”
The Pothiers and their sons Jake, 3, and Luke, 1, purchased a house in the Rosemont section of Alexandria, near Del Ray. “The kids just love it. There are trains going this way, planes flying at you, bulldozers everywhere,” he said. “The biggest thing for us is safety, first and foremost. We wanted great schools. And location is important — I don’t want to be driving an hour [to work] every day.”

THE CAPITALS RELOCATED their practice facilities this season from Odenton, Md. to Northern Virginia. After a few months practicing in Ashburn (“That was pretty intense,” said Pothier), the team moved into its new facility atop the Ballston Mall in Arlington. Pothier can get to the Kettler IcePlex in about 15 minutes from his home; on gamedays, Pothier said his trip to the Verizon Center is just 20 minutes.
When the Capitals have a home game, Pothier will wake up with his boys at 7:30 a.m., have breakfast, and be out the door at about 8:30 to fight traffic for practice at 10:30. He’ll have lunch at the rink with his teammates and arrive back at home at 12:15 p.m. for some time with his sons and wife.
“I have an allotted two-hour nap time, but that doesn’t always happen that way,” he said. “Whatever my body needs, it’ll take it.”
Pothier will wake up around 4 p.m., grab a cup of coffee, hang out a little more with the family, and then head out to the arena for that night’s game.
It’s a routine, but not a rigid one.
“There’s a lot of guys who do the superstition thing,” he said. “I try to stay as far away from that as I can.”
So his superstition is not having a superstition?
“I say that all the time.”

DURING HIS SENIOR year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY, Pothier returned home to New Bedford, Mass., for Christmas break.
That's when he met a girl named Gwen. About seven months later, they were engaged.
Less of a sure thing for Pothier after RPI — where he played hockey and majored in financial management — was his career in the NHL. He signed with the Atlanta Thrashers as an undrafted free agent in 2000, and quickly discovered he needed some additional experience. “In my first training camp, I was blown away. These guys were just too good.”
He was sent down to Orlando of the International Hockey League, where he tallied 41 points in 76 games was earned the league’s rookie of the year honors.
After bouncing back and forth between the minors and the Thrashers, Pothier was traded to Ottawa in June 2002. It was like hitting the reset button: Pothier went from being a Top 4 defenseman in Atlanta to about 10th on the Senators’ depth chart. But he fought his way through the ranks, earned a shot with Ottawa and excelled for parts of three seasons before leaving as a free agent. The NHL’s new rules that emphasized speed and agility favored Pothier. “Personally, I love it,” he said. “But I’ve seen a lot of guys who don’t love it as much. If you’re a bigger guy who relies on grabbing and getting guys in a corner and shaking them down, it’s a big change for them.”
This season, Pothier has 19 points, including 10 on the power play, in 48 games. He recently battled through a concussion, missing several games for the Capitals.
In Ottawa, Pothier played with several star players; none compared with the wattage of his Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin. “Ovie’s energy is different. Those guys are more laid back, stars in their own right. Ovie’s 21, and full of life,” said Pothier. “Not only in all the pictures do you see him, but he’s the face of our team. We want to play like he does — full of energy.”

POTHIER SAID choosing Alexandria as a home was the right decision. He’s enjoyed breakfasts at Mancini’s on Mount Vernon Ave. He’s gotten together with teammates who also live in town — including team captain Chris Clark — at places like Bugsy’s and Landini Brothers in Old Town. “There’s such a small-town feel. Such great hospitality,” he said.
Unless they make a late push for the postseason, the Capitals will end their 2006-07 campaign on April 7. “Almost everybody goes home. Especially the Canadian guys. They always seem to have a cabin somewhere up there,” he said.
He his family won’t be leaving town this summer. Because for Brian Pothier, Alexandria is now home.

A Mark Tinordi Update

An interesting article on what the former Capitals defenseman is up to these days. Courtesy of www.usahockey.com.

Coaching Feature

Former NHLer giving back to nation's capital's Washington Nationals

By John Raffel Feb. 21, 2007
Special to usahockey.com

The transition from an NHL career to coaching in the junior ranks has been a smooth and enjoyable one for Mark Tinordi.

For the past three seasons, Tinordi has coached in the Washington Nationals in the junior hockey ranks in Laurel, Md.

A longtime pro defenseman, Tinordi was thought of as an imposing force at both ends of the ice throughout an NHL career that endured for nearly 700 games. At 6-foot-4, he was recognized as a blueliner who was a punishing hitter with a hard shot from the point. His tenacious style eventually wore down his body after a dozen big league seasons.

After 663 games in the NHL, most of them with the Minnesota North Stars, Tinordi had 52 goals and 148 assists for 200 points, plus 1,514 penalty minutes. In 70 NHL playoff games, he had seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points and 165 penalty minutes.

Tinordi saw action in the old International Hockey League with the Colorado Rangers in 1987-88 and had eight goals and 19 assists that season. A season later, he played with the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Wings of the IHL.

After spending several seasons in the minors, Tinordi’s NHL career took off in 1988 when he joined the North Stars. He was a key player for the team when it reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1991. One of the best seasons for the NHL defenseman was 1992-93, when he had 15 goals and 27 assists. He also played a year for the franchise after it relocated to Dallas.

He was traded to Washington in 1994 and played there for five years, leading the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1998. He was claimed by Atlanta from Washington in the expansion draft on June 25, 1999.

He retired after playing 48 games and battling injuries in 1998-99.

Including his own youth hockey days, Tinordi said he’s been involved with hockey since his youth for about 30 years. When he retired from pro hockey, he had a personal reason for staying involved in the sport.

“I have a son who is 16 now,” he said. “When he was in Junior B, I started coaching the team. This year, he moved up to Junior A.

Tinordi appreciates the efforts that he sees from his players.

“The Washington Nationals have been the youngest team in the league, and yet we’ve made the playoffs. I’ve coached the sons of other pro players.”

It’s a profession that suits Tinordi just fine.

“I wanted to keep coaching,” he said. “I like the kids. They’re at an age, from 16 to 19, where they’re fun to coach.”

Tinordi’s team is having a strong 2006-07 season. It’s been competing in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League.

“It’s a very good league,” Tinordi said. “We’re happy with it. I think it’s come a long way.

“We have to get more kids to play. We don’t want to see them eliminate programs. There are a lot of teams guys can play with. We’ve just struggled to get some recognition. We have had a few players on the U.S. National Teams. There are quite a few kids who have gone on to higher levels since I’ve been here.”

Like any junior program, one of the primary goals of the Capitals program is to get its players some notice from the collegiate ranks.

“You have to go to a lot of different places to get some good recognition,” Tinordi said. “We have a lot of good players and we’re working at giving them some notice.”

Tinordi said his program will use the Washington Capitals’ new practice rink next season.

“That will be a very good deal for the kids,” said Tinordi, who also has a son that plays Bantam Major Hockey. “Probably next year, I’ll be watching him a lot.”

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bears Blow Lead, But Rally to Win Shootout

Alexandre Giroux Provides the Knockout Punch in the Shootout
Hershey Bears 3, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2

Boxscore

It’s a little ere how much the Bears game resembled their parent club’s game. The Caps, who were playing at the same time tonight as Hershey, jumped out to a 2-0 lead just as the Bears did, only to allow their opposition to tie the game up and eventually send it to a shootout. The difference was that Hershey was able to pull out the win, while the Capitals could only manage a single point on the night.

Tomas Fleichmann got the scoring started as he parked himself in front of the net and knocked home his 20th goal of the season following a nice feed from Mike Green behind the Penguins net. In the second period, Louis Robitaille extended the lead to 2 in what looked like an innocent looking play. He gathered the puck off the boards and just fired a shot, beating goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.

The Bears took that lead into the third period and looked to be on their way to an easy victory before the Penguins were able to rally and tie the game. With 11:30 left in the game, Micki DuPont tallied his 9th goal of the season on the power play with a shot from the right circle that found the top right corner of the net. A little less than six minutes later, Kyle Brodziak would knock home his 18th of the season as another shot from the right circle beat Maxime Daigneault. It was the result of a quick offensive attack following a defensive zone faceoff win by the Penguins.

After Jakub Klepis hit the post, an excellent performance by Daigneault on some quality scoring chances led by Brodziak, allowed the game to go to a shootout.

Goals by Mike Green and Alexandre Giroux along with a clean sheet from Daigneault, gave the Bears the victory and the much needed extra point to extend their lead in the standings to 4 points over the Penguins. With Norfolk defeating Springfield 2-1, the win also kept Hershey seven points behind the division leaders.

The hit of the night came from none other than Jakub Klepis as he nailed Penguins defenseman Noah Welch. The hit left Welch wobbly and resulted in a scrum that sent Mike Green and Ryan Stone to the box with ten minute misconducts.

Your Top 3 Stars:

1. Maxime Daigneault, Hershey 38 saves

2. Tyler Kennedy, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2 assists

3. Tomas Fleichmann, Hershey 1 goal

Game Notes:

Jamie Hunt (wrist), Chad Wiseman (day-to-day), Pete Vandermeer (broken leg), Jonas Johansson (healthy), and Donny Grover (healthy) were the scratches.

Caps Blow Lead, Fall in Shootout Again

Caps Are Now 1-8 on the Season in Shootouts As Cheechoo Nets Game Winner
San Jose Sharks 3, Washington Capitals 2 F/SO
Boxscore
(Photo Courtesy of Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

It was another heartbreaking loss as for the second consecutive night the Capitals failed to take advantage of a team that was struggling heading into the matchup. San Jose had lost three straight and, like the Caps, were having trouble scoring as of late. But the Sharks were able to overcome a strong start by Washington and, despite falling behind 2-0, were able to overcome the deficit to defeat the Capitals 3-2 in the shootout.

Even though Washington had played just 24 hours earlier in Montreal, while San Jose was relaxing in DC waiting for them, the Caps were able to get the jump on the Sharks. After a 10 minute feeling out period where neither team recorded a shot on goal, Shaone Morrisonn was able to tally the first goal of the game. He retrieved the rebound off of a right pad save by Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov following a Matt Bradley shot from the right boards. With Jonathan Cheechoo screening his own goalie while attempting to block his shot, Morrisonn fired a slap shot over Nabokov's blocker for his 2nd goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

The Caps would make it 2-0 just 49 seconds later as Brian Sutherby deposited a loose puck in front of the net for his 5th goal of the season and his second in as many nights.

San Jose would cut the lead in half before the end of the period as Patrick Rissmiller finished off a 2 on 1 break and a nice feed from former Capital Mike Grier. It was Rissmiller's first goal in his last 10 games and his 5th of the season.

The second period was pretty much a stalemate as neither team produced any quality scoring chances until the end of the period, when the Caps had a little bit of a flurry while on the power play.

The Sharks would use their potent power play, which is ranked second in the NHL in goals behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins, to pull even in the third following a hooking penalty to Eric Fehr. A Joe Pavelski shot from the left circle caused a free for all in front that saw Matthew Carle finally stuff the puck home after hitting the post on a his first stuff attempt. The goal would send the game to overtime as neither team could tally the rest of the way.

The extra frame saw Nabokov deny Richard Zednik on a semi-breakaway opportunity and Matt Pettinger as well after he made a nice curl and drag move around a defenseman. So once again the Caps found themselves in a shootout situation.

It started out well this time as a successful try by Matt Pettinger on a nice snap shot gave Caps fans hope that maybe they could finally pull one of these games out. But that would not be the case again as consecutive goals by Joe Pavelski and Jonathan Cheechoo would seal their fate and send the Capitals home frustrated with another shootout loss.

Ron Wilson returned to Washington and remained undefeated against his former club, improving his record to 4-0 since his departure from the Capitals organization. It was also the 10th straight win for the Sharks over the Capitals who have not beaten San Jose since February 20th, 1999. The streak is the longest losing streak against any NHL team for the Caps.

Game Notes:

Kris Beech dressed for the first time in 10 games as he took Brooks Laich spot on the second line. Laich joined Ben Clymer and Steve Eminger as the healthy scratches.... Brian Pothier led the team in ice time with 28:44 and blocked shots with 4.... Brent Johnson had another solid game stopping 33 of 35 shots on the night.... Alex Ovechkin was kept off the scoreboard again, including a shootout attempt, and now has just 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 9 games.... Chris Clark left the game in the third period after a shoulder on shoulder hit in the offensive zone. You have to wonder how bad the injury is considering how he finished his shift after breaking his jaw and losing half of his teeth earlier in the year.... The Hershey Bears also blew a 2-0 lead in their game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. However they were able to respond and win their shootout thanks to goals from Mike Green and Alexandre Giroux to go along with a clean sheet by goaltender Maxime Daigneault.... The Sharks had to play without Patrick Marleau who was a late scratch due to food poisoning.

Caps/Sharks Preview


San Jose Sharks (36-22-1, 73 points)
at
Washington Capitals (23-28-9, 55 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet, TSN
Radio: Sportstalk 980-AM
Gametime: 7:00 PM ET

The Caps will welcome home their former head coach Doug Wilson tonight as he brings his Sharks to town for the only meeting of the season between these clubs. It will also be the final game against a Western Conference team this season for Washington.

Once again the Capitals will face a team that has been struggling as of late, although that didn't seem to matter in last night's game in Montreal. The Sharks come into the game tonight having lost their last three games, while the Caps are currently riding a four game losing streak. During their recent streak San Jose has been outscored 13-2, including being shut out in consecutive games at Nashville and Columbus.

In an interesting move San Jose has recalled goaltender Nolan Schaefer from the AHL to take the place of Vesa Toskala who is out with the flu. What makes this move so intriguing is that Schaefer had been assigned to the Capitals AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears. Now he could actually play against the Caps tonight, although he will most likely only see the bench as Evgeni Nabokov's backup.

After yesterday's results around the league that included a Florida Panthers overtime win at the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington now finds itself deeper into the cellar position of the Southeast Division as they are now three points behind the Panthers. The space between them and the final playoff position also continues to grow as they are now twelve points behind the Carolina Hurricanes who currently occupy that spot.

The game will be seen by a national television audience as it will be broadcast on TSN in Canada.

Bears/Penguins AHL Preview


Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (33-15-2-3, 71 points)

at
Hershey Bears (32-12-5-5, 74 points)

Television: B2Networks

Radio: Bears Network (100.1 FM, 1490-AM, 960-AM)

Gametime: 7:00 PM ET


Divisional rivals square up tonight at the Giant Center as the Penguins and the Bears meet for the sixth time this season. Hershey looks to right their ship after losing consecutive home games in regulation to Albany and Hamilton last weekend for the first time this season. They should have a good chance to do just that against a Penguin team that has a 1-6-1 record over their last 8 road games.

The Bears have seen another shakeup in their goaltending situation as Nolan Schaefer has once again been called up to his parent club, the San Jose Sharks. To take his place on the roster Hershey has once again signed Jeff Pietrasiak to a PTO. He appeared in one game earlier in the season with the team, making 45 saves on the way to 7-4 win over the Norfolk Admirals. The moves leave the Bears number one goaltending position again resting on the shoulders of Maxime Daigneault, who struggled last weekend in his first action since returning from a high ankle sprain. He does however boast the highest winning percentage (12-4-0, .750) among all AHL goalies with at least 5 appearances.

A win could pull the Bears back to within 5 points of the division leading Admirals depending on their result on the road against the Springfield Falcons.