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Caps 5, Rangers 4 (OT)

Be honest. Who changed the channel when it was 4-0? It's okay, no one is going to be mad. But you missed one heck of a comeback.

Five straight goals, including an overtime winner from Shaone Morrisonn, who had not scored since Feb. 26th. And a big time bounce back for Jose Theodore, who had been pulled after yielding three goals on five shots only to return and make a couple of game-changing saves in the third period.

Considering the list of injured players, the four goal deficit, and the fact that the Caps had four defensemen who started the season in Hershey in tonight's lineup, getting two points was nothing short of amazing.

"The good thing is we were down 4-0 early," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We though we had a lot of chances in the first period. I thought we out out-chanced them. If we could get one and start believing. That's all we kept thinking about. If you believe, it can happen."

And happen it did.

Some other notes and quotes from tonight:

*Bryan Helmer, Andrew Gordon and Alexandre Giroux were all returned to Hershey tonight. Giroux had two breakaways and missed on both opportunities. Gordon had a shot on goal, but played only 7:12 in his NHL debut.

*The Caps snapped a seven game-losing streak at Madison Square Garden.

*The Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Viktor Kozlov line was dominant in the final 30 minutes after a shaky first 30. Ovechkin finished with two goals and an assist, Kozlov got one on the power play and Backstrom notched three primary helpers.

Interestingly, that line was on the ice for the Rangers' first three goals.

*With Donald Brashear out of the lineup, Backstrom wore the alternate captain's 'A' for the first time in his career.

*Ovechkin took a season-high 13 shots on goal, extending his league-leading total to 208 (or 51 more than L.A. Dustin Brown).

*What a strange night for Jose Theodore, huh? But perhaps his performance in the final two periods will boost his confidence a little. He made a game-changing save on Nikolai Zherdev moments after Tomas Fleischmann's tally. Without that save, the Rangers likely would have cruised to an easy win.

"I don't know what it's going to do for Jose," Boudreau said. "But when I played, whenever I was in a slump and something good happened to me, it made me believe in myself again. It's not coaches or the players who have to believe in him. He has to believe in himself. That was a big step in saying, 'Yeah, I can do it. I'm going when I'm into it. I thought he was really good in the second and third period.'"

*Boudreau wasn't as hard on Theodore as one might have expected. Here's the coach's breakdown of Jose's performance.

"The first nine minutes, he didn't get any help at all," he said. "Fleischmann has the guy on the first goal and he can't get to it. The second goal, I couldn't see Jose from the bench. I was right behind Roszival. So I'm sure he didn't see the puck. On the third goal, he might have been a little bit out of position. But by that time, everyone's shoulders were slinking. We had to make a change."

"When he came in and he stopped Zherdev, you need defining moments, you need saves at the right time. And that was a save at the right time. The guys knew on the bench that we had the opportunity to come back after he made that save."

Asked he might have kept Brent Johnson in the game had Johnson not been sick/hurt, Boudreau said, "There's a good chance."

*Johnson didn't look healthy this morning. And he didn't look great during the few minutes he was in the game tonight. If he doesn't get over this cold ... or injury ... or whatever he's got the coming two days, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see the Caps recall Simeon Varlamov. Stay tuned on that one.

*Boudreau joked that the Morrisonn's goal "was the hardest shot I've ever seen him take." It might not have been the hardest I've seen him take. But it was close.

That's all for tonight. The Caps are off the next two days, and so am I. I'll check in from the morning skate on Friday.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 23, 2008; 11:16 PM ET
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Ovie is the MVP of the league again. The goaltending woes continue. We needed 5 goals tonight thanks to Jose Three or Four. Let's see how we feed off this. But a great 2 points

Posted by: ergoroc | December 24, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Happy holidays to you and yours Tarik.

Posted by: Section117 | December 24, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Great win boys. Awesome. 2 points is 2 points. It aint pretty but who cares.

Side note... how big is it that we put the 'A' on Backi. When we have older guys we still give it to the 2nd year center. To me that's huge.

Posted by: goskinsgo | December 24, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding, Tarik? Johnson looked like death warmed over on that bench. I wanted to put him on the couch with a hot toddy and a blanket and let him sleep it off. He had no business being out there, and I have to wonder how much of Saturday that explains.

Hey, does anyone know if the public can go watch the morning skate, and whether they're at KCI or somewhere else? I've got Friday off and I wouldn't mind watching one!

Posted by: kittypawz | December 24, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse


To be honest, except last game, where he was terrible, I think Green is playing well on D this year. Remember, he's +9, despite a -4 last game. And there's room for improvements there. Also, aside maybe Scott Niedermayer, I've never seen anyone skating so smoothly from end to end. He's a weapon, we should nurse him as such. He should be a bit more careful sometimes... I'm assuming he'll mature that way.

I'd never break Alzner/Juice. They had negative points but honestly were not at faults on the goals. I hope Juice keeps improving as he is right now... he's becoming more and more commanding, and he has the physical toughness we need back there - not to mention a wicked shot.

Posted by: mauree | December 23, 2008 11:54 PM


The problem I have with Green defense wise is that he plays with the puck in the defensive zone, a little too much. Most of the time it will lead to turn overs, which will then result into either a good scoring chance or a goal. I do, however, agree that he has played a bit better on D, and I do believe that he will get even better as he grows and gains more experience. Also I love his rushes up ice. It often catches the opponents defensive line off guard, and gives our a team an easy entrance to the opponent's zone. As for moving him to wing, I was just wondering what others would think if said situation were to actually happen.

I agree with not breaking up the Alzner/Juice pairing. Alzner has had a tremendous influence on Juice, and the same with you, I hope the big guy continues to improve and progress.

Posted by: elicea | December 24, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want to break Alzner/Juice either. The fact that we saw the beginnings of this kind of improvement with Jurcina / Fedorov suggests to me that all Jurcina has needed is a solid, steady partner that he can rely on to hold up their end. When he trusts his partner, it frees him to be aggressive, to play his game, to dish out the hits, to unleash that cannon of a slapshot he's got, and generally to be the amazing player that he can be. But he can't do that if he can't rely on his buddy to hold up their end of the ice (exhibit A: Erskine). Both Fedorov and Alzner did this for him, and Alzner does it night in and night out.

And the contest to try to hit the crossbar suggests that they're just plain friends. :)

Posted by: kittypawz | December 24, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

In all honesty...I reached for the remote twice, but then decided to wait and see what happened. SOOOOO glad I kept the faith.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 24, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

only reason i didn't reach for the remote was because I started packing and made myself busy once it got to 3-0. At 4-1 I thought 'oh they're making it respectable good'.

Stopped everything when it was 4-2 and thought 'just maybe...'.

Either way great win.

Posted by: goskinsgo | December 24, 2008 12:32 AM | Report abuse

did anyone else notice that OV had the C on his jersey?

Posted by: kdwiedel | December 24, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

@kdwiedel: I didn't, nor did I see that Backstrom was wearing the A. Honestly, I'd like to see Laich get an A someday.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 24, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Hey guys, I am planning on taking my daughter to the Sabres game and I'll probably take her over to high five the players before warm-ups.. If anyone could let me know what time the Caps usually skate out of the tunnel to warm up that would be great!

Posted by: dcsportsfan13 | December 24, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

i can't find any photo's of OV from tonight's game. i saw he had the C from a photo showed by 'nhl on the fly'. it might not have been from this game though. i do think that it is time for him to start wearing it.

Posted by: kdwiedel | December 24, 2008 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Ovi had the C??

I saw Backs have the A. Not trying to take anything away from him, but I would've given that A to either Brooks, Gordon, or Brads before him...

Posted by: elicea | December 24, 2008 12:51 AM | Report abuse

*sheepishly raises hand*
Yeah, you got me. I switched over to the Wizards game, because . . . I don't know why, maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment (I also watched more Nats game this year than anyone not actually employed by the team should). So, you really ought to thank me for taking my personal hex off the Caps and putting it on the Wiz.

Posted by: bucky_katt | December 24, 2008 12:55 AM | Report abuse

@dcsportsfan13: Be down there by 6:15 if you want to get to the tunnel. It's usually pretty crowded by the start so you'll want to be early.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 24, 2008 12:55 AM | Report abuse

never mind - he was wearing an A tonight - finally found a photo. we need to start campaigning for it though. I don't have anything against clark, but OV is the clear leader of this team.
i'm not real impressed with theodore - but i hope this helps him turn the corner and regain some of what he had in the second half of last year.

Posted by: kdwiedel | December 24, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz- Thanks a lot.

Posted by: dcsportsfan13 | December 24, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

good game and its three or more

Posted by: seansdc5 | December 24, 2008 1:10 AM | Report abuse

@elicea: i think bradley already wears an "A" on a regular basis. and i could have sworn that i saw ovie wearing an "A" also.... but if it was a "C" can someone find a clip or a picture or something?
oh, and that comeback was INSANE.

Posted by: chevychase1 | December 24, 2008 1:16 AM | Report abuse

here comes varlamov, here comes varlamov,
right down capital lane
the futures shining brighter and brighter
after every save
no more heartache no more headache
no staring up at the lights
we'll all see what he can bring cause varlamov comes tonight.

Posted by: oo7 | December 24, 2008 1:29 AM | Report abuse

First. Congratulations to the Caps and particularly, I am very happy for JT.

Second. OV was relentless, there is not enough superlatives to describe his enthusiasm, effort, and leadership on the ice.

Third. I am not surprised many didn't know about OV wearing the "C". Thanks to the NHL ON THE FLY commentators I found out, our "great" team of Joe B. and Locker were too busy with their constant yapping about ... ???

Posted by: opita | December 24, 2008 2:08 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone still have any questions as to who should wear the C? Ovechkin took the team on his shoulders 4 goals down and carried it to an incredible victory. One of the most amazing comeback I've ever seen and even though Ovie only scored 2 goals this was on the best games I've ever seen any hockey play. Ever. He was an absolute beast! 13 shots on goal and more then 20 attempts! That is insane! He never gave up and his teammates followed.

I will stay away from saying too much about Theo. He did play well after Boudreau had no choice, but to put him back in due to BJ's illness, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he was once again horrendous at the start putting us into a huge hole which thanks to Ovie's leadership we managed to crawl out of.

Anyway, great win! I love the Caps!

Posted by: ranndino | December 24, 2008 2:20 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin was wearing an A tonight, not a C. You can see it on the main picture included with the game story on the Caps site (among others). However, like I said, if that was not a performance worthy of any great captain I don't know what is. If there ever was a natural leader it's Alex. He reminded me of the Spartan general from 300 tonight. Relentless. I watched the game on MSG and they were absolutely in awe of what he did tonight. He just kept coming like an unstoppable machine.

BTW, the hit on Dubinsky was exactly what Kozlov was talking about in that long interview on Puck Daddy. Dubie thought he had him, but Ovie saw him coming and stepped into him at the last moment making the intended hitter the hittee. Dubinsky went flying!

P.S. When will the Green bashing stop. Like I said 27 times already giveaways are part of the package when it comes to offensive defensemen. Yes, even Niedermayer and Lindstrom make bad giveaways sometimes or get caught up the ice. Everyone who criticizes Greenie chooses to ignore 1001 great things he does in every game and focus on 1 or 2 mistakes.

Posted by: ranndino | December 24, 2008 2:37 AM | Report abuse

Hello All!

I'm spending X-mas on TDY so my web access is limited, but I got all the play by plays via smoke signal, heard everything!!! Yeah bayyeee-beeee!

Just wondering when the last time a defensive pair from the farm played the full 60. Anyway, way cool to hear Ovie wearing the C and yeah, Backs wearing the A might appear odd but we are not in the locker room folks. My choice would be Brads or Laich but again, I'm not privy to that dialogue and hey, it worked right?

I love this team!

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | December 24, 2008 2:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh ok, Ovie was not wearing a C. Again, my info is coming second-third hand. I'm also having lunch.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | December 24, 2008 2:55 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone catch on SportsCenter when whichever anchor was on tonight at 11 said that Shaone Morrisonn's goal was the first of his NHL career. I'm glad ESPN is keeping up with its superb fact checking streak.

Hell of a win though. After Theo gave up a goal on the 2nd shot, I knew it would be a rough game, but damn I'm glad that I kept watching. What a crucial win after that tough loss in Philly.

Also, I can't believe we are third in the East and tied for 5th in the league. If we can do this now, imagine how we will play when we're completely healthy.

Posted by: MFab12 | December 24, 2008 3:22 AM | Report abuse

Wow! All I can say is wow! I flipped once to the Devils/Bruins game on Versus during a commercial, but turned back. Not sure why. I am so glad I did.

Ovechkin was a beast tonight. Something tells me this may be a game that a lot of people talk about for a while ala the Montreal game last season (the 4 goal broke my nose, got stiches, kicked some tush game).

re ESPN and Mo. I think it was actually Mo's first game winning goal. ESPN just got confused. Wonder when they bring Melrose back.

Happy Holidays one and all.

Friday is shaping up to be a really interesting game.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 24, 2008 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Almost forgot. Hugs to Matt Pettinger for scoring and helping Tampa to shut out the Penguins.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 24, 2008 3:32 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I was also very close to switching to the Bruins - NJ game on Versus when it became 4-0, but somehow I got a feeling that I just might miss a great comeback, especially when Ovie finally got one and was yelling "c'mon!" to the whole bench. I would have hung myself had I switched and missed this. There's nothing more exciting than winning this way.

Posted by: ranndino | December 24, 2008 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what time the gameday morning skate at KCI typically is?

Posted by: huskerskins | December 24, 2008 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to their practice schedule:

Posted by: Heidi1 | December 24, 2008 5:56 AM | Report abuse

I guess Joe B and Locker would have mentioned the "C" if it had happened. I heard the NHL on the Fly guy mention that as well and was trying my hardest to see it in their clips, but could not see the letter on Ovie. At that point, I was not going to go back to replay the game 'cause it was too late.

Now, c'mon, apologize to Joe B and Locker. :)

** Disclaimer- I like Joe B and Locker and don't mind the occasional stray discussion. They still provide plenty of relevant hockey info.

Posted by: _Mark | December 24, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Yeah...Ovie was wearing the "A" but definitely acted like he had the "C". I also will admit that I reached for the remote, surfed other channels and periodically returned to the game because I couldn't stand to see them get slaughtered as they did in Philly. However, when the score changed to 4-1 and I saw how Ovie was pulling the rest of the team along and that Theo was making some saves, I stuck it out from then on. What a comeback and what a finish. Simply incredible. It was good to also see the defense tighten up in front of Theo and give him some help. It surely eases the way into Christmas for us. :)

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | December 24, 2008 6:45 AM | Report abuse

"C" or not, Ovie is a/the leader of this team. I want to see Clark regain his form after this injury and show why he earned the "C" in the first place. Clark has been hammered in the last year, physically and mentally. I just hope that his health issues are behind him and he gets back to his old self. Ovie, if he wants it, will wear the "C" eventually. The "C" will not change the way he is viewed on the ice or in the locker room. Oh, and that is all just IMHO.

Posted by: _Mark | December 24, 2008 7:02 AM | Report abuse

I think everyone is getting confused because there was a still photo on NHL on the Fly last night that had OV wearing a C. It must have been from preseason. During the autograph session at Six Flags OV was wearing a C on his jersey. I congratulated him but he was quick to say that he wasn't the Captain. Anyhow, he should be.

I watched the game by myself, slightly delayed because my sons had hockey practice late last night. It was kind of good that I was home alone because, let say, I wasn't using my inside voice for the 1st period. Then I lost it again when JT didn't come up with the save on the break away. Not that it was really his fault, but those are typically the saves that change games and get goaltenders out of slumps. Nevertheless, I stuck with them, mostly because I honestly feel that even if the Caps lose a game, if I don't watch it I am going to miss something amazing done by OV. Well, I was glad I did. The first goal was like they say, you have to be lucky to be good. OV's hard work resulted in a goal on his softest shot of the game. The Rangers had been under attack though. From that point on the Caps completely took over. Theodore made one good glove save in the 3rd, but otherwise made things way too interesting. Even his save on Zherdev was much more impressive in real time, the replay showed it wasn't even going towards the net. Hopefully JT got some confidence from that and I just want to say thanks to the Caps for my early Christmas present, frickin' loved it guys. Have a nice break!

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 24, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

OH yeah, my boys watched the game on the DVR as I went to bed. I can't wait to see how much the game they watched in fast-forward, they are die hard fans too. I forgot to mention that OV's break away goal made Lundquist (sp) look like a Pee Wee. I know how OV can get out of his Penalty shot, shootout slump, freakin' speed. When he buries the breakaways he's flying. During penalty shots and shootout he much more methodical as he approaches the net. Again, thanks for the early Christmas present, it was a Festivus Miracle!

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 24, 2008 7:13 AM | Report abuse

For the record, I did not change the channel. Because of my lack of respect for the Rangers this season, I thought we would come back. But, to be honest, before the game, I just wanted a point - due to all of our injuries.

This game 'should' set the example for our upcoming games and our players. You can't stop believing. Anything can happen. You can't stop believing in Jose and the rest of the bunch. Heck, I am not a fan of Nylander, but, I have faith that he can turn it around. Got the game winner assist (even if he didn't mean to pass it to Morrison)... Anything can happen!!! Someone should write a kids book about the Caps.

Tarik - Merry Christmas!

Posted by: _828 | December 24, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for Alex to get the 'C'... That's what I had put on my jersey. I figured, in the next 13 years, Alex will eventually get the 'C'.

Posted by: _828 | December 24, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I think we all learned a lesson last night: Never, EVER count this team out, no matter the score, no matter how sluggish they are looking. I'm guilty for not believing last night. I kept on saying if we did score after the Rangers scored 4, Jose would just let in another 2, but I was so wrong and thank God I was. I think we've all watched this team long enough to know that if they don't make the comeback entirely they won't just lay down and die, they'll fight all the way, and that's why I LOVE THIS TEAM. I will never, ever doubt them again. Great game last night. I don't even think I've ever cheered that loud for the Redskins the way I cheered after every Caps goal last night. :D I hope Comcast replays the game so I can watch it again.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 24, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Tarik and Happy Holidays to you and all the Caps and fans! Great win last night boys!

Posted by: robblahs | December 24, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

ESPN's not the only channel that has hockey issues. Versus did a cut-in to show Kozlov's goal, attributing the power play tally to Slava Kozlov. Way to go Versus...

Posted by: sirbobalew | December 24, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse


Definitely go to practice on Friday. I'm going to because I got the day off unexpectedly. Practices and morning skates at Kettler are open to the public, generally. And it's a fun atmosphere.

Posted by: jen-s | December 24, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Dig that catchy tune!

I did not change the channel (I missed the first half of the game; I did not want to miss any more). I knew they could come back (they've done it before!), but I was not convinced they would. Regardless, I never give up on our boys. It makes my DH crazy - whether at the game or watching on TV, I don't stop watching until it's over (Mr. Boo, on the other hand, is half way out the door). That was a good one ... now let's just hope they can do it at home this weekend without the cardiac arrest part!!

Posted by: --Boo-- | December 24, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Though I'm relatively new to hockey (didn't start following until my late 20's; didn't pick up a stick or attend an NHL game until my 30's; didn't play organized hockey until age 38), I have seen a fair number of games that might best be described as manic-depressive in nature.

In terms of rollercoasters, I'd have to say this one takes the cake.

Only 1 word to say on last night's win...


Think I'll go to practice Friday. Anybody know how to get KCI from Tyson's?...or just tell me the address and I'll MapQuest it from my house.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Das Rhino

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 24, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable game last night. Those are the types of wins we would have never accomplished with _____ at the helm (fill in last 4 head coaches).

Posted by: chrisketane | December 24, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

When I heard the comment that OV wore the "C", my first reaction was "what the heck is he talking about?" Then when they showed OV celebrating his last goal, I thought I saw the "C". Perhaps, it was a suggestive sighting. And if I was wrong, and apparently I am, I do apologize for my remark to Joe B. and Locker, not that they care or are aware of it. By the way, it is not a personal thing, those two guys seemed to be an amiable pair, it is just that when I watch hockey I want total concentration on the game.

Posted by: opita | December 24, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Happy holidays to you and yours Tarik. Thanks for the great job you do to keep the info coming to us! Enjoy you days off.

PS. We did not change the Channel!

Posted by: Cheer2Caps | December 24, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Those of you that have "Center Ice" and watch the Canadian broadcast's know how bad we have it. Joe B. and Craig drive me crazy.
Go Caps, win or lose!

Happy Holidays to all(particularly our dedicated blog master's!)

Posted by: OldFan | December 24, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

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