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Caps 5, Sabres 2

Brendan Morrison scored the goal of the night. But it was Nicklas Backstrom's two-goal effort that had everyone buzzing after the game.

Backstrom now has 10 goals in his past 11 games - all on on 33 shots. The 22-year-old Swede also has four multi-goal games, which is three more than he had last season.

But let's get back to Morrison for a second. He snapped a nine goal drought in style. If you haven't seen his between the legs shot yet, check it out below.

"I don't know what it's called," joked Morrison, who said he's used the move twice in the past 17 years (the last time coming in junior). "Let's make something up."

Morrison's goal, by the way, was his 10th, which gives the Caps six players in double digits. That's more than any other team.

Check my gamer out here, then come on back for a few notes and quotes that didn't make the cut:

*Buffalo Coach Lindy Ruff, as you might imagine, was less than impressed with his team's first period effort. The Caps outshot the Sabres 15-4 and jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

"We didn't go to work," Ruff said. "You play like that, you've got no chance of winning in this league. We weren't on the puck, we didn't compete for pucks, we just decided not to show up the first period. It was shocking. ...We started the Christmas holidays just a little too soon."

*After going without a goal in two straight games, the Caps' power play struck twice tonight. It was the first multi-goal performance for the unit in eight games.

Kudos to Tomas Fleischmann for drawing both penalties on the five on three (even if he embellished the tripping infraction a little.)

*The 20 shots the Caps yielded in the second period matched the most they've allowed all year.

*Michal Neuvirth's 32 saves were career high and the win evened his record on the season at 2-2-0 while giving his stats a small boost. He's now got a .892 save percentage and a 3.28 goals against average.

"He's getting better each game," Boudreau said. "The save he made in the first period on the bouncing puck at the last minute, when you've only faced one shot al period, that was a tremendous focus save."

"We wanted to see if he was going to grow," the coach added. "And I though tonight was better than the Edmonton game. He made big saves at right times. You can see that some day he's going to be a really good goalie."

*With a goal and two assists, Alex Ovechkin has 44 points on the season, which has him sitting fifth behind Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik, Henrik Sedin and Sidney Crosby. Ovechkin, though, has missed eight games this season because of injury and suspension.

*Fleischmann's assist on Morrison's goal was his 100th NHL point.

That's it from me tonight. The Caps are off the next two days for Christmas break. Happy holidays everyone.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 23, 2009; 11:42 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning roundup: Caps stomp Sabres

Comments

Three star selections
1st: NICKLAS BACKSTROM
2nd: ALEXANDER OVECHKIN
3rd: TOMAS FLEISCHMANN

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 24, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

From Previous Thread:

Icehammer97:

I agree the Sharks have always come up short in the past. That will end some day. I'm not saying they win this year, but I will say I feel they have best odds to make Finals.

For someone to beat them, they must shutdown Thornton-Marleau-Heatley.

Who can do that? Maybe Calgary? Maybe Devils? Pitt? Can the Caps?

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 24, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

nice recap of the game at: http://capitals.nhl.com/club/recap.htm?id=2009020549
by: Mike Vogel - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 24, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

@Tarik - Who got the hard hat?

I hope it was Neuvirth, because his SV% tonight was .948! Absolutely STELLAR performance!

Posted by: irockthered | December 24, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

backstrom didn't score his 14th goal until his 58th game on feb 18 last year. ovi, semin, backstrom, flash, fehr and green can all be 'on' at any time. add laich and morrison and most teams must be scared to face the caps.
the goaltending (as a whole) is not doing to bad either - even though most of it is varly: 2.67 gaa / .909 save %

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 24, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

i can't stand to see the pens anywhere near the top of the standings - so here are your top ten teams based on percentage of possible points earned

.757 New Jersey
.708 Chicago
.703 Washington
.697 Pittsburgh
.689 San Jose
.653 Buffalo
.635 Nashville
.635 Los Angeles
.632 Phoenix
.625 Calgary

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 24, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

@ tomlin People said the same thing about the Wings offense last year with Zetts, Datsyuk, Hossa, and Franzen and the Pens the year before that when they Malkin, Crosby, and Hossa. Offensive teams can be stopped. Look at their last game they only got 14 shots on goal. If Huet wasn't a sive in net or if Nabby wasn't a brick wall stopping 46 then the Sharks would have lost. They sort of remind me of the Caps last year, lots of scoring but not a great D. Look at some of the other teams in the West. The Hawks have Kane, Towes, and Hossa. The Wings when healthy have Zetts, Datsyuk, and Franzen up front and Lindstrom in back. While the SJ top line is better then those two examples their lower lines and D are not as good. The Pens didn't win the Cup until they got stronger on D and got secondary scoring and I just don't think SJ has that right now they are like the Ducks just with a better top line.

@richmond from the last thread.

I agree that overall Heatley is clearly the better player but that season Cheechoo had 56 goals Heatley's best year is 50. Even this year he is only on pace for 49 goals. So for that one year Cheechoo was as good as Heatley. Heatley is also been know to not be great in the playoffs he has 10 goals in 34 playoffs games or .294 Goals per Game Cheechoo has 16 in 54 or .296 so in the playoffs they are almost the same and both played with big name players in Thorton and Spezza.

Everyone keeps talking about all the stars just like they did for Detroit last season and they also had Cup winning experience which SJ does not have much of. I think that SJ once again falls in the playoffs, it might not be a first round upset like last year but I just don't think they are going to the finals let alone win the Cup.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 24, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Tom, we shut down that line once already.

It's not like Ovi-Backs-Semin is nothing to laugh at.

Posted by: richmondphil | December 24, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

for Capt_Kirk_in_AZ from the last thread

Here is an interesting note about shoot outs. If the NHL was back to the pre shoot out of 1 point for an OT loss and if the OT ended in a tie it was just a regular tie then the standings would be like this

WAS 50 pts (42 real) 37 GP
NJD 48 pts (53 real) 35 GP
BUF 45 pts (47 real) 36 GP
PIT 47 pts (53 real) 38 GP
BOS 38 pts (43 real) 36 GP
OTT 38 pts (40 real) 37 GP
ATL 37 pts (40 real) 36 GP
NYR 37 pts (39 real) 37 GP
MON 35 pts (39 real) 39 GP
TB 34 pts (35 real) 37 GP
NYI 34 pts (35 real) 38 GP
FLA 34 pts (39 real) 39 GP
TOR 33 pts (34 real) 38 GP
PHI 32 pts (34 real) 36 GP
CAR 21 pts (24 real) 37 GP

What this shows is that the Pens and NJ are really being helped by the shoot outs which is fine for the regular season but in the playoffs they will not have that advantage so looking at the standings how they are without teams getting SO wins the Caps are in even better shape then they are already.

Another amazing thing is people always talk about us getting an advantage from playing in the South East but we have actually played more games against the Atlantic then the Devils or the Pens. In fact the only team to play more games against the Atlantic then the Caps is Florida. There are also only three teams that have played more games against the North East then us and those are Buffalo, the Isles, and Toronto. So we have played more non-South East games than pretty much every team in the East. Given our winning percentage against the division and the number of games we have remaining against them I think the Caps will have the number one seed in the playoffs.


Posted by: icehammer97 | December 24, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Cheechoo was not as good as Heatley that year. Stats =/= better play.

I don't think SJ is all that great though anyway. Like I said, I'd go with CHI and NJ. But WSH is up there as good as any team this year.

This team we have this year is scary good.

Posted by: richmondphil | December 24, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Cheechoo was not as good as Heatley that year. Stats =/= better play.

I don't think SJ is all that great though anyway. Like I said, I'd go with CHI and NJ. But WSH is up there as good as any team this year.

This team we have this year is scary good.

Posted by: richmondphil | December 24, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

icehammer97:
from a fan perspective - the shootout can be exciting and it gives north americans a winner every game. imo it skews the standings and makes it a little more difficult to determine which teams could be better/worse than their record indicates. SO are not used in the playoffs and for some teams the SO wins might end up giving them home ice for the playoffs - i'd like to see some version of the 3 pt win or just not award the 2nd pt for a SO win (i know that will never happen though)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 24, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Kirk and others as well what do you think of this idea. Win in regulation three points, win in OT 2 points and loser gets one, win in a SO 2 points and loser gets nothing. That way in encourages teams to try and win in regulation so they can get 3 points and it also puts to teams it is better to lose in OT then in a SO so there will be less of teams sitting back and waiting for the SO to try and win.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 24, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Giving a point out for a loss is dumb.

2 pts to the winner. 0 pts to the loser. Shootout, OT, I don't care.

Posted by: richmondphil | December 24, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I also think there are plenty of teams that can shut down the SJ top line. The Pens shut down Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin as well as Zetterburg, Dats, and Hossa last year. The Caps were one game away from shuting down the Pens last season and are better this season and could get even better with the cap room we have now. The Wings shut down the Hawks Towes, Kane, and others last year. NJ aways is a threat to shut down guys and who knows which goalie will be this years Giggy, or Knobby in the past who step up and carry their team. Guys like Luongo, Miller, and Kipper are guys who could do that or someone like Anderson, Quick, Bryzgalov, or Niemi, who I think is better then Huet, could come out of the gate hot and carry it through the playoffs. I don't think that the Sharks are clearly the top team in the west with all these other teams chalenging them along with teams like the Wings and Ducks who always seem to get better in the playoffs even when they aren't as good in the regular season. I think it is possible that they could make it to the finals and even win it but I just don't think it is as likely as many seem to think it is.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 24, 2009 1:20 AM | Report abuse

the reason I have it set up that was is to encourage teams to try and end the game as soon as possible. I would like to only go to a shoot out as a last resort and I would want to penalize teams that just go into a shell late in regulation and just wait for a shoot out to go for the win.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 24, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

By the way does anyone know if the Caps have a practice tomorrow? The Caps web site said nothing about it being off because of the holiday so I am not sure and Kettler's web site is no help at all.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 24, 2009 1:33 AM | Report abuse

For 1 night the AHL goalie outshines the Vezina candidate...

Posted by: jhorstma | December 24, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

First off i want to say thank you to buffalo for not showing up the first period.Although it wasnt just that,I thought the top line totally out played them no matter what.Whether they showed up or not the caps still took it to them.ANd second,I want to congradulate neuvy on a great game.Only one of there goals he might of should of had but the other one no way.He was big when he had to be and thats what counts.I hope he has a great long career with the caps cause i think a varly/neuvy tandem will be unstoppable.And thank you caps for sending us off for the holiday on a high note.GREAT GAME!GO CAPS!!! Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday.

Posted by: gratefuldid | December 24, 2009 5:21 AM | Report abuse

It was nice to be at Verizon again last night, a great early Christmas present. Anyhow, I must have been at a completely different game. I know the shot clock read 15-3 Caps, but it wasn't due to lack of effort by Buffalo. That's taking too much away from the Caps 1st period effort IMO. Buffalo had stretches where they controlled the puck in the Caps zone in the 1st but the defensive zone coverage was very good. Both the forwards and defensemen were covering the middle very well, blocking passes, blocking shots (11 in the 1st alone), and keeping the threat to the perimeter. Once the Caps got the 2 goal lead in the first BB had them play a 1-2-2. Buffalo found a way through that early in the 2nd and it became a track race in the 2nd. Great game for our boys, and they're getting a well deserved 2 day break. Buffalo didn't do too bad against our 3rd string goaltender.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 24, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone noticed more ice time for Erskine? This could mean that Mo and Juice may not be back in 2010/11 since Erskine is already signed.

Also, Flash is able to take over the ice for short periods of time. At times he looks like the best player on the ice. Just my perceptions from my perch at section 413. I wish it was Flash/B.Mo/Fehr out there instead Knuble. I like Knuble but he isn't a long term fit for us, Fehr should be getting his minutes.

Posted by: JSchon | December 24, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't buy that Flash embellished the tripping penalty. He was tripped, then he was slashed, then he went down. Any smart player hits the ice in that situation, since he was no where near scoring range.

Posted by: writered21 | December 24, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone noticed more ice time for Erskine? This could mean that Mo and Juice may not be back in 2010/11 since Erskine is already signed.

Posted by: JSchon | December 24, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

yes but I've also noticed that just about any forward with decent speed can just skate around Erskine in open ice. He and Juice might be a toss-up but Mo is much better than Erskine.

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

I am not a big fan of Erskine, he is pretty limited as a blueliner. That said both Mo and Juice may be a numbers crunch thing...

There is formula here that I'm noticing, just add Alzner. Alzner + Juice looked great, Alzner + Erskine looked very serviceable.

Posted by: JSchon | December 24, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

JSchon: Once Pothier comes back, Jurcina could be moved then. They can't scratch three defensemen every night. You've already got a guy who can sit all the time if need be at a cheap rate (Sloan). Scratching one more player in rotation is fine, but not two. Plus, Carlson is almost ready.

They should be able to get a pick now for Jurcina that can be turned into a rental March 1st.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 24, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Erskine is looking better, plus he's signed at a low rate for next year. And Alzner was sticking up for his buds last night. Don Cherry would call that, "Good Western Canadian coaching."

We've crunched the numbers. With the raises that are coming, the d has to be cheaper. Best solution is move Poti and his 3.5 if they can.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 24, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

We also need to find a way to keep B.Mo. That guy is just so solid. +16? Can keep up with any of our forwards. We need to find a way. He has had a dry spell from goal scoring until last night, but I hadn't noticed, he does so many other things.

Find a way GMGM.

Posted by: JSchon | December 24, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

What a great game guys. Great way to show your killer instinct in the third and close the game out. Neuvy can go back to Hersey now with confidence. What am embarrassment of riches we have with goalies. I love it when the team seems in complete synergy, each player knowing where the others were or were going to be on the ice. They were great at not letting the momentum slip in the second--despite the Sabres goals I never felt a letdown or sense of danger from the boys. They still gave an aura of "we will finish this game with a win!"

We also won one of the charity silent auction player baskets last nights--my son took Knubles used gloves to bed with him and I'm going to let the two of them deke it out for the signed Knuble jersey. Wow did some of the baskets get expensive! All for a good cause.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 24, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

@JSchon

I love BMo as a Cap too. When you guys (I mean in a non-gender specific way) talk cap and salary and future roster I feel a little sad at the idea that the Caps may not be able to afford BMo at the end of the season. He and Knuble have been such perfect additions to this team. And I love how BMo has got his speed back. What a way to rejuvenate his career.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 24, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

7-3 in December with only 3 games left means another month with a winning record. Not sure how many in a row that is now but it says a lot about our consistancy.

Posted by: Searchingforstanley | December 24, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

That goal by Morrison was SICK! Anybody knows who plays this game, you don't practice that - it's skill/instinct. It ranks up there with Ovie's goal against the Coyotes.

Posted by: noreaster1 | December 24, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Comparing BMo's goal with Ovie's the goal is a bit much. Between the legs has been used in shootouts before and there are pee wees and bantams with that move. But to use it in a game situation and make it look nonchalant was.........sick. Watched the game from the west coast on Yahoo stream and got the bonus of Joe B and Lacher. Time to start Christmas shopping.

Posted by: vsmartin007 | December 24, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Not to be a Scrooge about it, but I thought 14 overall had a poor game. Redemption with the penalties though.

Posted by: LouLewis | December 24, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@Capsyoungguns

Congratulations for winning Knuble's charity basket. I hope you and your son enjoy the stuff in there.

I made a couple of bids for a basket. Of course, to really have a chance of winning, I would have had to be there at the tail end of the 2nd intermission. (There was a limit to the amount of time I wanted to hang out over there given that my seats were on the opposite side of the area.

Anyway, congrats. And I'm sure they raised a lot of money, especially on the baskets for Semin/Varly and Ovi.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 24, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

@LouLewis

You're pretty hard on Flash.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 24, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@LouLewis (Ebeneezer)

Really? What did I miss? I thought he was buzzing around keeping the puck in the offensive zone...

Posted by: JSchon | December 24, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@tominfl1

I agree with you on the D. Poti seems like the most logical guy to move, given his age and salary. He's not that old but over 30.

I know it just isn't feasible to keep 10 d-man on the active roster and give people playing time.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 24, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

This team could come out every game and win 12-0 and someone would come in here picking on a one of the boys performances....too many typical Washingtonian fans in here now, kinda liked it better in the good ol' days when only die hard Cap HOCKEY fans came to this forum. The boys may not have been winning as many but at least there was intelligent hockey conversation going on....the price of a winning franchise I suppose....

Posted by: PhilR | December 24, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I doubt Poti gets moved. He is one of the keys to the PK. Bruce would fight that one tooth and nail IMO.

Posted by: ouvan59 | December 24, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I just thought he had some bad plays with the puck, a bad clear when we really needed a change. It seemed like after that whiff on the shot he lost focus for a while.

Posted by: LouLewis | December 24, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

@jschon

I'm with you on Flash, I thought he might've been our best player out there. Certainly, he created the Morrison goal (although kudos to #9 for the superb finish). It was a great game, both teams competing, putting out.

If only teams would take our high cap hits from us! We do have depth and it's smart of the Caps to continue to give all the D the chance to stay fresh, as well as all three goalies. We have to see that as a positioning for a trade. The question to ask is if you're a GM, who on the Caps do you want? Varly or Neuvy in nets (low cap hits, great upside). Schultz, Carlson, Jurcina, Erskine on D, I'd think. Flash or Fehr up front. We'd prefer to trade Pothier (high cap hit, good player), Theodore (the same), I would think..

Posted by: RedLitYogi | December 24, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

the reason they keep 8,9 or 10 d-men around is because they do NOT have 6 guys they can trust every night, it's not because they are loaded on D... let's be honest.

you don't see NJ or Chicago keeping that many d-men around, do you?

Posted by: joek443 | December 24, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

BMo #4 on ESPN Top 10

Posted by: fatboy08 | December 24, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

http://capitals.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=42449

Caps practice on Saturday morning

Posted by: malujoker | December 24, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

@ I doubt Poti gets moved. He is one of the keys to the PK. Bruce would fight that one tooth and nail IMO.

Posted by: ouvan59 | December 24, 2009 9:38 AM

With our PK being in the bottom half of the league. I am not sure this is a good endorsement.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 24, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

last night was lumberjack's best game of the season i thought. Alzner makes him and juice better when they are paired up. Hell even Japers took a second to single erskine out, which is something they never do

Posted by: _stevo | December 24, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Every team has 7 or 8 defensemen on the roster. Roster is 22 or 23 and you dress 20. Someone is always sitting out here or there or banged up. What's changed, if Pothier comes back, is that everyone would be healthy AND you have Alzner up as the cap purgatory is over. There is now an excess, which means one could get moved.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 24, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

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