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We Want the First Big Prize This Year!

By Rodger M. WoodMarcus Johansson 90Winning two of three road games and ten of eleven games with as many as five injured starters on the sidelines, the Caps proved they were still winners, who could win all the marbles once their whole team is back on the ice in April.They faced Montreal, Detroit, and New Jersey on the road last week without key performers, recently acquired center and new dressing room leader, Jason Arnott, first line center Niklaus Backstrom, forward Eric Fehr, defenseman Mike Green, and goalieSemyon Varlamov.Starting with the Flyers game tonight, they also face the prospect of not having all star forward Alex O in the lineup the next seven – ten days.But so far with the extra ice time, rookies and other veteran players are filling the void.At the Bell Centre against Montreal, rookie center, Marcus Johansson scored two goals, and goalie Braden Holtby stopped 24 of 26 shots as the Caps set a record with their 6th straight road win 4-2.Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble scored the other two goals in the Montreal win.Forward Matt Bradley challenged veteran Habs defenseman Paul Mara to a fight the shift after he bloodied rookie Jay Beagle with an elbow to the face.Holtby was named “NHL First Star of the Week” for a 4-0 record, 1.05 GAA, and stopping 110 of 114 shots (96.5%).The Caps came close to beating Detroit Red Wings with a light lineup Wednesday night. The teams were tied 2-2 midway through the third period on rookie defenseman John Carlson 6th and Alex O’s 29th goals of the season, when Red Wings superstar Henrik Zetterling fine tuned a power play shot past goalie Michal Neuvirth left shoulder for a 3-2 lead which carried on to the final game result.The following Friday, Neuvirth made up for missing Zettlering’s goal, stopping all 33 shots and shutting down the New Jersey Devils 3-0. It was Neuvirth’s 4th shutout and 23rd win of the season.Johansson tallied another goal and Knuble his 18th and 19th goals of the season. Jeff Schultz tallied his first goal of the season to give the Caps a first period lead.It helps that Varlamov, Fehr, Backstrom, and maybe Arnott will return to the ice tonight at Philadelphia. Behind the Flyers by only a point, the extra firepower could help win a tough battle for first place in the Eastern Conference.But the Caps have been there before. They won the Patrick Trophy and every other trophy, except the big one on which they all want their name.So be it then tonight. The rest and rehabilitation of Ovie, Green and the rest of our injured warriors is more important. Healthy, the Caps have the defense, leadership, toughness, and goal scoring offense to win the Big Prize, and that is what we want standing on our mantel at the end of the playoffs this year!Bookmark and Share

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Caps Beat Blackhawks in Overtime 4-3

By Rodger M. WoodMike Knuble 1psAfter last year’s Stanley Cup winners, Chicago Blackhawks, tied the game up at 3-3 on Jonathan Toew’s 6 on 4 power play goal with less than a minute to go in the regulation,Caps rookie center, Marcus Johanssen, doubled up his effort, flew down the ice and set up Mike Knuble’s winning goal in overtime.The win was the Caps eighth in a row, put them one point behind Eastern Conference first place Philadelphia Flyers, and gave them an undertone of confidence for the April playoffs.Both teams played hockey today like it is supposed to be played. The Caps gave 100% effort to get the capacity Verizon Center crowd a win today.Checking line center, Boyd Gordon tied the game up at 1-1 with a shorthanded goal at the 06:11 mark of the first period.With less than a minute to go in the first period, Jason Arnott scored his second goal as a Cap since coming over from New Jersey at the trade deadline and fifteenth of the season, to put the Caps ahead 2-1.On a fluke goal from a bad angle, Blackhawks Tomas Kopecky tied the game up 2-2 of the second period.The game was stalemated until 6:23 of the third period, when Brooks Laich, assisted by Matt Hendricks and Eric Fehr, put the Caps ahead 3-2.In his fourth straight start, rookie Braden Holtby looked sharp, stopping 27 of 30 shots. His only lapse was on Tomas Kopecky fluke goal in the second period.Unsung heroes of the game were Caps rookie defense tandem of John Carlson and Karl Alzner, who stopped Blackhawks young superstars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, all afternoon, except on Toews power play goal at the end of third period.Carlson did all of the work on Knuble’s overtime goal but got none of the credit.The Caps play last year’s playoff nemesis Montreal Canadiens at Montreal Tuesday.Bookmark and Share

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Win One Easy, Win One Hard, Result, 7-Game Winning Streak

By Rodger M. WoodM hendricksRiding the “karma” of a hot rookie goaltender and the hard work of a rejuvenated team, the Caps are finding different ways to win hockey games again.Showing a lot of offense at home Wednesday, they beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-0.Resorting back to tough defense and playing clutch catch up hockey with two goals in the third period Friday at the Verizon Center, they beat a Carolina Hurricanes team determined to make the last playoff position in the Eastern Conference, 2-1 and went on a seven game winning streak, their longest of the season.The Caps Big Red Machine worked on all cylinders against the Oilers. Returning to the ice after a 22 – game shoulder injury, both Eric Fehr and Ovie scored power play goals. Then at even strength in the second period, they scored another goal each to put the Caps ahead 4-0.Continuing a 3 – game goal scoring streak in the third period, Alexander Semin put the game out of reach at 5-0.Holtby got his first NHL shutout, and extended his shutout streak to 5 periods or 100 minutes.Matt Hendricks’ gritty play, Ovie clutch goal and Holtby’s goaltending were the story line in the Carolina game.Blocking a shot on a penalty kill, then skating hard up the ice in time to put Jason Arnott’s rebound behind hot Canes goalie, Cam Ward, Hendricks made the Caps winner at 7:24 of the third period.Ovie had tied the game up 47 seconds into the third period with his 28th goal of the season, after Tuomo Ruutu’s slap shot snuck through traffic at 19:24 of the second period, putting the Canes ahead 1-0 and ending Holtby’s shutout streak at 144 minutes, twenty – four seconds. In his past six NHL games, the 21 year old stopped 170 of 174 shots (97.70% of shots faced).Making the power play alive again, while playing good defense, passing the puck out of danger, and logging the team high 22:13 ice time, defensemen Dennis Widemann was the Caps unsung hero both games.Solid on defense, clearing the front of the net from attackers, jumping up on offense, and logging 19:35 time against the Canes, defenseman, Scott Hannan is also making a big impact.The Caps will be challenged next by defending last year’s Stanley Cup winners, Chicago Black Hawks 12:30 PM Sunday at the Verizon Center.

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Game Time: Caps Look To Weather The Hurricane Tonight

Brian_Pothier_5

Former Capital and Hurricane, Brian Pothier.

With the regular season nearing its end, we might be witnessing our Caps finding their groove. Injuries still plague the Caps, but they are finding a way to win. Following a convincing win against the Oilers, they are showing that they can win in a manner fitting the team that they are playing. Five goals against a team that is last in the West is fitting, wouldn’t you say?

A bad team the Hurricanes are not and the Caps will face the challenge of a team fighting for respect in the Southeast division as well as a team fighting to grasp a playoff spot. Adding one to the six game winning streak is nice, but 2 points in the division is the key tonight.

On a side note, if you were wondering what happened to Brian Pothier, he appears to be playing in Europe for Geneve Servette.

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