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Caps push win streak to 13


Alex Ovechkin scored a goal in his fourth straight game. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


The Capitals extended their franchise-record winning streak to 13 games tonight with a 5-2 victory over Atlanta at Verizon Center.

Nicklas Backstrom scored the go-ahead goal at 15 minutes 29 seconds of the second period, and Washington broke open the game in the third with consecutive goals by Alexander Semin and Jason Chimera. Michal Neuvirth, who was recalled this morning after spending some time in Hershey with the AHL's Bears, made 43 saves. The Capitals have outscored opponents 28-6 in the third period during the win streak.

Backstrom, however, was not on the ice during the third period. The center has had migraines that have forced him to leave games early, although there was no immediate official word from the team about his absence.

The Capitals next play on Sunday against arch-rival Pittsburgh. The game is scheduled for noon despite the heavy snow that's blanketing the D.C. area.

UPDATED: Coach Bruce Boudreau said Backstrom was not on the ice in the final period because he was feeling ill. He is expected to play against the Penguins.

*Photos of the Caps' win streak

By Gene Wang  |  February 5, 2010; 9:35 PM ET
 | Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Atlanta Thrashers, Jason Chimera, Michal Neuvirth, Nicklas Backstrom  
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Next: Saturday's practice in limbo

Comments

Although Atlanta really only scored one goal, the actual final was 5-2.

Posted by: kenjabi | February 5, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Nice win. Atlanta played hard all night and the Caps matched their intensity. I liked it, especially for a back-to-back game. Now comes a harder test. I hope Backstrom will be there.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | February 5, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Love Directv, one little storm and it's searching for signal.

Posted by: scropion | February 5, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

13 is AWESOME!!!!! Semin had a...um...moment? but he's bee playing great lately, so I am going to let it go! Hope Backie is ok!

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Atlanta did better in just about every key statistic except the most important one.

I understand we were playing a back-to-back but this has been an ongoing trend for a while now.

We're starting to look like the Canadiens out there giving up 40+ shots all too often.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

As good as Neuvy has played it may be tough just to hand the keys back to Varly. With all the goaltending questions, I have to say Theo and Neuvy have played great! Go Caps and make Sidney cry in front of his NBC lapdogs Milbury and McGuire!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 5, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

GMGM said the team is performing good and he doesn't want to change any thing, but I think we still need a D-man. We are giving up too many shots lately.

Posted by: scropion | February 5, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with tmac2yao. Caps' have not played their best in the past few games. They're getting away with talent alone. Right now it's working, but sooner or later it's going to catch up to them.

But, I shouldn't complain. They're finding ways to win. And even more positive is that both Theodore and Neuvirth have stepped up and are playing out of their minds. It's going to be interesting when Varly is healthy again.

How epic would it be if both Caps and Ottawa keep their streaks going, up to their matchup on Feb. 11th?

Posted by: elicea | February 5, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

"Backstrom, however, was not on the ice during the third period."

Why please.....

Now! ;)

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 5, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

"Love Directv, one little storm and it's searching for signal."

Go clean off your dish, it makes a difference. I have had no issues so far.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 5, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

@scropion

I agree and I wouldn't be surprised if that's just posturing by McPhee.

He's obviously happy with the success in terms of results but he's also obviously disconted with some of the lack of success in terms of the process.

At this point, it's not all about wins and losses for this team. It's about the process and developing habits that will increase our chances of winning in the playoffs.

We're giving up an alarming number of shots and scoring chances and we're struggling both on the penalty kill and dealing with good, aggressive forechecks.

Some think it's Boudreau's system. I'm not sold on that theory. I think it's largely a personnel issue. We aren't getting to enough pucks first (lack of speed), we aren't winning battles along the boards (lack of grit/skill) and we aren't making enough good, quick decisions with the puck in our own end (lack of skill).

I'll say it again: I can only imagine how much better our league-leading offense would be if we were better at getting the puck out of our own zone. We don't need to be the best at it but there is a need for improvement and I'm not confident that we have the answers internally at this point.

I expect a move from GMGM next week despite the recent success.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

"Love Directv, one little storm and it's searching for signal."

Go clean off your dish, it makes a difference. I have had no issues so far.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 5, 2010 9:57 PM

Soap and water do?

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | February 5, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao
I understand what you are saying, but I can't complain until they start losing.

40+ shots yes, but I think the Caps did a goodjob of letting Nuevy see them. and lots of their shots were really weak.

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

hope those fans who went to game get home safely.

Posted by: elicea | February 5, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

*discontent

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight... the debate is on whether the caps are amazing or excellent. Tough times everybody. Better brace for the worst of it all... being top tier in the nhl. ouch. it hurts it hurts. GO CAPS!

Posted by: copedog311 | February 5, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Lisa just said that Backs told a reporter he had migraines

Posted by: elicea | February 5, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

eporton BAckie...migraine or flu like symptoms! WHEW!!! they say they thnink he is fine.

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

@ Ray
LOL seriously - I would like to stay alive and withness the caps win the cup this year.

@tmac@yao
I hope you are right and GMGM is posturing. We depending too much on our goalies.
Hope Varly don't have any setback this weekend.

Posted by: scropion | February 5, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

A trade will happen at some point, that I can agree with. Probably some minor tweaks.

I am sick of these Souray rumors. That would kill our salary cap situation.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 5, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I am sick of these Souray rumors. That would kill our salary cap situation.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 5, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse
----------
I don't understand why some would want him. Caps' do not need another d-man who has trouble playing in his own zone.

Posted by: elicea | February 5, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I'm not just talking about this game. It goes well beyond this game. And I fully disagree about the idea of not worrying until they start losing. At this point, it's more about the process and developing good habits in my mind than continuing a winning streak.

I do agree with you about this game though. There weren't as many tremendous scoring chances as in other recent games but Neuvirth did rob them a few times. There was an excellent behind the net view of one of their scoring chances. Neuvirth absolutely robbed Hainsey. The puck was headed to the top right corner and I think Neuvirth was slightly screened in that case.

Regardless, I think McPhee is worried about our blueline and is going to try to address it to some extent before the Olympic break. We shall see soon enough. I'm obviously just making a guess.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know if migraines can be set off suddenly by oh say a hit to the head. He has had this on and off for a while but it hasn't caused him to miss too many games. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had them and he seemed to have a pretty good career.

Now lets be kind to Semin. It was no worse that that goofup by Theo 2 weeks ago when Cindy scored that tap in. Both have been playing great. Theo shook it off and won that game,,,and every game since....hmmm. Maybe Semin will do the same.

I sure hope all you fans at the game get home safely. Hopefully most are traveling by Metro with only a short drive or walk.

Looks like the streak coupled with the Ovi and what's his name matchup should give the network a great game on Sunday. Maybe it will get better ratings than that other game later that evening. At the least I'm sure the football announcers will be talking about the earlier game.

Posted by: rjma1 | February 5, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm amazed how many fans showed up at the game. I hope they get Get home safely. I wonder how the thrashers gonna fly out of here in time for their game tomoorow.

Posted by: Andoy | February 5, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

@scropion,

If you can get to your dish easily, you may want to try brushing it off. I've had the same problem, and that generally works in cases of snow...too much snow on the dish absorbs the signal. Just a thought.

Posted by: NorthFork1 | February 5, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Someone on Japers said that Boudreau said the Backstrom was feeling ill. (Migraine ill or other ill?)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 5, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

@scropion,

If you can get to your dish easily, you may want to try brushing it off. I've had the same problem, and that generally works in cases of snow...too much snow on the dish absorbs the signal. Just a thought.

Posted by: NorthFork1 | February 5, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

either migraine or flu, I'm just glad it's not a serious injury.

Posted by: elicea | February 5, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I agree with both of you. Souray is not at all what we need.

We need players on the blueline that can do anything related to getting to pucks first, winning battles and making good, quick decisions with the puck.

I think Niedermeyer would be a good fit but I don't think Anaheim is likely to make a deal with the way they're playing right now. I know he's old and has some weaknesses but he's quick and smart with the puck. I think a player like him would help us transition out of our own zone better.

I don't subscribe to the common theory that we need an overly aggressive, stay-at-home defenseman. I think what we really need is a defenseman that is quick, has a bit of grit and can move the puck and make good, quick decisions/passes. We have plenty of stay-at-home types, even if they're not necessarily elite in that respect. In my opinion, we need another puck mover who also possesses above average defensive skills and plenty of experience.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

come on semin, put it in the OTHER net :-)

Posted by: j762 | February 5, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

@rjma1

I agree. Let's be kind to Semin. Luckily his goof was when we had the game pretty much in hand. He's the guy who had scored the third goal that proved to be the game winner. If nothing else, he was hustling and trying to prevent the goal but failed.

I think he'll shake it off (since we won). Will probably get some teasing in the locker room but ... oh well.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 5, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

@elicea

Not surprised that Nicky told a reporter he had migraines again.

If he had flu, I wouldn't want to see him play, frankly. Nicky's a great center but I don't think we'd be well served by him playing when sick (and exposing the other guys).

Get well, Nicky.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 5, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

This Streak is nice.... But ive been watching successful regular season Caps teams since Scot Stevens was wearing # 3 for the Red, White, and Stars. Im just ready for the playoffs already. Lets Go Caps!!

Posted by: EsMyDee | February 5, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

So who are the stars of the game? I would assume Neuvirth. Probably Ovi, as well.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 5, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I suspect Cindy would like nothing better than to come into DC and end the Caps streak. I expect the Pens to really bring it on Sunday.

Is there something else going on after the Caps-Pens game? A football game or something?

Posted by: zmega | February 5, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I thought Backstrom showed some signs of not feeling well against the Rangers despite the tremendous performance. I wonder if that was the case. If so, he's just that good.

Hopefully, he'll bounce back in a day or two from whatever he's dealing with.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The Caps are leading the league in points, wins, goals, goal differential, pp efficiency, plus/minus and having more players than any other team in the top offensive statistical categories.

In a salary cap era, you can't expect to lead in both defense and offense. It isn't possible to be the Yankees or to try and be the Yankees. The Caps PK is weak. Is it a glaring weakness? No. You can't win 13 straight and have a glaring weakness. Could this weakness cost the Cup? Of course, no team goes into the Playoffs guarteed the Cup (see 92-93 Pens, had the 17-game streak, had everything in talent, O and D, and got upset by the Islanders who had just upset the Caps).

We surely didn't need Kovy. What we need is a Mike Knuble equivalent on defense. This player could be either a forward or a defenseman; he just needs to be PK "captain." It could be Niedermayer if he has enough in the tank or it could be a guy like Ott from Dallas.

My opinion: If Caps get Niedermayer and it costs nothing significant off current roster, we trump the Devils acquisition of Kovalchuk. I don't think McPhee will make that deal if it costs either Alzner, Carlson or one of the three goalies. All five players will be worth quite a bit more once they mature. Caps can offer guys like Beagle and Andrew Gordon who have expiring entry-level deals and therefore would need waivers if not kept next year. Also, Miskovic, is he worth anything?

More likely, it will be like Feds, Cooke and Huet where it didn't cost much. However, even with no move at all, Caps have just as good a chance as any team to take the Cup. I still have them above NJ. And Chicago. The reason is Ovechkin, who keeps getting better.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 5, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

The real mistake Semin made wasn't accidentally knocking the puck in while backchecking. He did his best to recover and got a bit unlucky.

The mistake was the risky and unnecessary pass while on the PP with a 3 goal lead and not much time left in the game.

I'm not saying we should make a big deal out of it, just pointing out the real issue with that sequence.

Ovechkin is far more prone to that type of bad play than Semin. I am more worried about that type of thing happening with Ovechkin or Green at the point than Semin.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 5, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1

I agree GMGM won't and shouldn't trade Neuvy, Varly, Alzner or Carlson in a Niedermeyer deal. I'm not so sure I'd be dead set that the Caps couldn't trade Holtby. If the right deal arose I think he would be tradeable.

But my guess for Niedermeyer would be players like Osala, Della Rovere, Perrault, Bouchard, Gustafasson (if he has much value), or Johansson.

I, like every one else, would rather not deal pretty good prospects but you are often going to have to give up quality to get quality. Even rental quality. I think this team is close enough to winning the Cup that giving up some good prospects for a good rental would be worth the cost. Lou Larimello certainly feels it is and he is a pretty good GM too.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 5, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

If we got a player like Niedermeyer, Kaberle, or Kubina at the deadline then I would be all for having the acquired defenseman playing with Green on the points when the Caps have a PP with the lead with less than 15 minutes remaining.

Those guys are are good PP guys, so the PP would still be very dangerous, but it would be a little more conservative.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 5, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know if migraines can be set off suddenly by oh say a hit to the head.

That's not one of the more common migraine triggers, though they vary quite a bit from individual to individual. For my wife, the kind of unnatural spectrum lighting you see in big box stores can be trouble. I wonder if something about the arena lighting could be setting NB off. Other common triggers that could be relevant are loud noise, intense physical exertion, and stress.

There are some good preventative daily medicines out there (my wife is on one that's helped a lot), but I don't know if they'd run afoul of either the NHL or WADA prohibited lists.

Posted by: zimbar | February 5, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

This team is scary good. Scary. We have never seen anything like this as Caps fans.

The only goalie tradeable at this point is theo. If we can egt either neidermayer or kubina, this team has to be favored to win the cup. s.morrison, holtby and a first for neidermayer. Something less for Kubina.

You can also trade pothier for something, anything, he walks anyway.

This is our chance. McPhee, this is our chance. You don't get a lot of these.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 5, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Dang the Devils scored two goals in the final 45 seconds inKovalchuks first game with them and they beat Toronto. I so wanted a 14 pt lead over them. Anyway, we're guaranteed the E. Conf. lead until March.

Backstrom is now tied for third in points. That guy is turning into one of the really elite players in the league.

Hossa, Kovi, and Heatly, all left Atlanta in recent years. Seems like that franchise is not too viable.

Posted by: rjma1 | February 5, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

@Capsfan75

three stars of the game
1, Neuvy
2. Ovechkin
3, Backstrom

Posted by: gebster | February 5, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't want Niedermayer. We don't need another Dman who's lost a step and isn't a fast skater. Seriously, folks, the biggest name available is not going to get you a Cup - it's not your fantasy pool. Stop thinking in terms of the big names and think more like McPhee. We are where we are because McPhee is a smart bargain basement shopper - he will not give up the farm for the biggest name available. Ray Shero is similar, in case you think that that method won't get you a Cup. It's not about the biggest name, it's about the right piece. If the big name is the right piece (Kovy), go for it. If not, you're going to cripple yourself grabbing it anyway (Pronger).

I'm still not completely convinced that we need a Dman - Alzner might just be able to do the job based on what I saw last night. I also saw games 3 through 8 on this stretch where we didn't give up that many shots. Frankly, I think that a lot of the problem right now is the super-crazy schedule. They guys don't have time to practice with this many games sandwiched into so little time, and practice will help them tighten up their D and systems play like it was in games 3-8. We've seen before that the guys need tp practice to stay sharp, and the schedule has been too hectic for a practice - Bruce is trying to give them days off to rest and is probably going to get a forced day off today because of the snow. Nobody is traveling in this, let's not kid ourselves.

As for worrying, we wouldn't be Caps fans if we didn't. A Caps fan doesn't ask whether the glass is half full or half empty, he wonders when the glass will spill.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 6, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

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