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Caps 5, Senators 1

On a night when Verizon Center was abuzz with goaltender talk -- if they were healthy, where they were, how fast they could get to Verizon Center or if they'd make their NHL debut -- Brent Johnson earned his fourth straight win and the Capitals showed their offensive might to defeat the Senators 5-1 for their fifth straight victory over Ottawa at home.

*Johnson has stopped 111 of 116 shots during his winning streak for a .957 save percentage and said after the game that his hip was rather sore. It's a definite possibility that Johnson may not start tomorrow night to rest the hip and when Simeon Varlamov was told by reporters that he might his first NHL start against Montreal the 20-year-old's eyes grew very wide.

*Coach Bruce Boudreau said he wasn't sure who would start against the Canadiens but that he wouldn't hesitate to use Varlamov if need be.

*After the game, the consensus in the locker room was that web producer Brett Leonhardt did pretty well in warm ups.

"He just wanted to know what was going to happen for warm-ups and he did well," said Johnson before turning to Leonhardt, who had returned to his spot behind the camera. "You were a fighter in warm ups. You were on."

*Leonhardt practiced with the team for the second straight day on Friday before learning that he might be making his NHL debut.

"Early afternoon (general manager) George McPhee came over to my cubicle tapped me on the shoulder...he kind of scared me, he goes: 'Be ready,'" Leonhardt said.

He sat in the team's pre-game meeting, dressed in the locker room, skated in warm ups and received the full support of his new teammates before making his NHL debut.

"They were pumped," Leonhardt said. "(Sergei) Fedorov said: 'This is why I love this organization, this is great.' Mike Green just started laughing his head off then put his arm around me and said 'Let's go.' Even (Johnson) who doesnt talk before games came over, went through warm up with me said 'Hey have fun out there.' It couldn't have been more perfect."

*For the second straight game the Caps benefited from the return of injured players as Mike Green and Sergei Fedorov combined for a goal and five assists.

*Fedorov's three assists marked his first three-point game of the season, his last was Dec. 18, 2006 when he played for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Boudreau noted how vocal the 39-year-old center was upon his return as well.

"Sometimes when you get up there in hockey age and you're out for awhile you realize how much you miss the game," Boudreau said. "I think he was very excited to play, very excited to get back. He was vociferous. He was really loud on the bench, complimentary and encouraging to everybody tonight."

*Green notched his sixh multiple-point game of the season and first three point game since the opener in Atlanta with a goal and two assists. Green, as has been noted in the blog many times before, was more than anxious to get back on the ice.

"I had to tell him before the game: 'Ok now listen, you're so excited. I've got to hold you back,'" Boudreau said. "I think in the first period his ice time wasn't as much. He's like a horse you're just holding back because he wanted to go so badly."

*Green said his first game back went better than he thought it would. He's still only about 90 percent but said he's fine when shooting the puck and just needs to regain his strength after missing 11 games.

"I was very nervous before the game," Green said. "I've never been nervous then tonight very much so. So it's nice to get a good start here and hopefully things will keep rolling."

*Matt Bradley recorded his 100th NHL point with an assist on Brooks Laich's goal. It was his second assist of the season with the first coming on Nov. 22 against San Jose.

*Laich's sixth goal of the season was his first in 10 games. It was also his second game winning goal on the year.

*Alex Ovechkin, who recorded his 11th multiple point game of the season, and Green scored goals within 22 seconds of each other for the quickest back-to-back goals of the season.

*Nicklas Backstrom recorded his third game with three or more assists this season.

By Katie Carrera  |  December 12, 2008; 11:13 PM ET
 
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Comments

So did Stretch get the hard hat?

Seriously, left before all of the goalie stuff hit. Imagine my surprise when I got down for warm-ups and saw #80.

Great game tonight. Was so good to see Semin and Green score and see Fedorov look like he was having the time of his life.

Have a function tomorrow night, but may have to sneak away if Varlamov gets the nod in net.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 12, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what a game!

And had Leonhardt been obliged to go out there, I think he still could have done a half-decent job... I bet he was wigged, though, LOL!

Hope Jose gets better soon!

Still - good win for the boys in red!

Posted by: irockthered | December 12, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Wow, can you imagine making your NHL debut in net in Montreal? No pressure kid...

Great game guys, now lets do that on the road!

Posted by: isaacc7 | December 12, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Brett Leonhardt!! What a great story to go with a great game.

Posted by: uncatim | December 12, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse


This is a MUST see Highlight courtesy of TSN.

Semin and Ovi trying to figure out how to high five on the bench during the game. Love Canadian TV. Wish CSN would get on Board.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=259463&lid=headline&lpos=secStory_main#

Once you click on the link. Go to Game Highlights its like 40 or 50 sec into the highlight.


Posted by: lightshow | December 12, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Anybody see Varlamov's eyeballs? They were rolling around on the dressing room floor...

I hope that they can keep it going. Tonight they were all in the right place at the right times. Their positioning was spot on, much better help on D than the past handfull of games.

BJ was a monster in net. Very square to the shooter most of the time. And a little luck never hurt anyone, either.

Good solid game. I thought the Boston game was more entertaining as a fan of hockey. Tonight's game was just a fun game as a Caps fan.

Posted by: Greg S. | December 12, 2008 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I left too before I was able to read about Stretch - what a cool thing that was... and pretty cool to hear Fedorov say "that's why I love this organization." That means something coming from a guy with 3 Cup rings. What a great win tonight and it would be great to see Johnny get a night off and Varlamov get a shot in Montreal. Why not some more Disney-type stuff?

Posted by: Roose | December 12, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

What fun! Green looked hardly and briefly rusty considering a 12-game injury. Semin's just picking up where he left off, and Fedorov's first assist, that deft little bank shot, was poetic.
Varlamov starting in recently-blanked MTL is so crazy it just might work: What's the over under on how much he sleeps tonight?

Posted by: redlineblue | December 13, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Man, this evening had an unbelievable dose of the crazy! :) I must say that I agree with Fedorov. It speaks volumes of the people up and down the organization that this spectacular mess was handled cleanly, transparently, good-naturedly, and in good spirits by everyone from Leonhardt to Leonsis. Kudos to each and every one of them.

- My hat is off to Leonhardt. I have nothing but respect for him for just having the guts to be willing to try. And I concur that he didn't look that bad in warmups.

I admit, when I saw him out there, I was laughing too hard to speak for several minutes. And then I watched him and said omg, it might actually work.

- Varlamov ... wow. First possible start in Montreal. Poor kid must be terrified. I know I would be. At least he's now got teammates who speak his language, and I hope he makes the most of that.

- I thought D looked solid as a rock, with the exception of Green, and admit it, if Green wasn't out of position sometimes we'd wonder who the hell was wearing #52. Mo had him covered, though, and looked much better than he did earlier in the season.

- Glad to see Green and Fedorov back. So, what's our current injury list, Tarik? Clark (LTIR), Schultz (LTIR), Erskine, Theodore, Flash, and Fehr? Still an extensive list.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 13, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

@lightshow

Thanks a lot for the CSN link...what a pleasure to see the boys enjoying the game so much...

I was at the VC tonight and it was a firework. What a team...so good to see Green and Fedorov back with 3 points each. It seems that Semin starts great but then pulls off a little bit; not a problem though, he'll get back into his rhythm soon.

Bottom line: one game does not mean much but from what they show over this part of the season, sky is the limit.

Posted by: fnralch | December 13, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Also, I'll start a list with potential entertainment value. Feel free to add your own.

Things We Didn't Expect To See This Season (And Reasonably Couldn't)

- Dressing over thirty different skaters before New Year's.
- A puck broken in half.
- A 9-minute powerplay - with no goals scored.
- A web designer in a Caps sweater, taking warmups.
- An injury list that would have made M*A*S*H proud.
- Johnson making an aerial save.
- Semin on the penalty kill - and being GOOD at it

Others?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 13, 2008 12:19 AM | Report abuse

@redlineblue: I'll take the over-under and set the bar at three hours.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 13, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

OK, so...

Was it me, or based on TeB's noon post, the lines were kept dynamic? Maybe it's the booze, but I thought I saw Kozlov on the Steckel line and Bradley on the Nylander line more than once, and maybe Fedorov and Poti on the backline once?

Solid effort by Johnson, and despite the SOG, felt like he didn't have to work as much tonight, compared to the Boston game.

You could almost tell how much did 8/19/28/26/52 like being on the ice together again? Oh, and 2 blocked shots and a takeaway by 52 in 22 minutes back. He should work on his defense.

Assuming that they can steal a win/get a point out of the game tomorrow, they've got 2 very winnable games next week at NYI and home against STL. That could potentially be 9 wins in 12 games before facing Philly on the road 12/20. Not that I'm looking ahead or anything, but momentum's always a good thing.

Leonhardt-Varlamov FTW. Accept no substitute.

Posted by: Section117 | December 13, 2008 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Someone please give Varlamov a sleeping pill tonight! We all should be seconding Fed's statement and not bashing as much. We need to be more behind this team, because look at what we have done with our "rookies".
No not perfect, wouldn't expect that, but basically 500. Thank you GMGM and all for the scouting and keen drafting we have gathered.

Posted by: caps28fan | December 13, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Tarik: Is it going to be possible to get a Leonhardt jersey? As weird as it sounds, it's an intriguing idea, and Stretch just deserves amazing amounts of kudos for tonight, as does the rest of the team for pulling for him and the management staff for handling an absolutely crazy situation as well as they could given the circumstances.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 13, 2008 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I am proud of this team, and proud of this orgainzation. That's all I have to say.

Go Caps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: cbs75 | December 13, 2008 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Good thing Stretch didn't actually play tonight. Sherwood doesn't have an equipment agreement with the NHL this year. We'd have had to forfeit!

http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20081212/capt.b78ca85ae06a4abeb46134a94e26e8ad.capitals_emergency_goalie_hockey_vzn101.jpg

Posted by: cityspirit | December 13, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

cityspirit: If that's the case, then maybe he oughht to consider getting a set of equipment that he can use in a real NHL game if push comes to shove and he has to actually go for it.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 13, 2008 1:33 AM | Report abuse

I think we should be able to get Leonhardt jerseys by just ordering it customized with his surname and the number 80 on it. They'll make it up for us. :-) I want one, LOL!

The only restriction the NHL makes is that you can't combine a different name with a number that's actually in use, so I couldn't use HAMRICK and 55, for example, in a Caps jersey, because Schultz already has #55... but Leonhardt + 80 should easily be orderable off nhl.com. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | December 13, 2008 1:39 AM | Report abuse

@cityspirit - Who the heck is Sherwood, and how the heck did you tell?

Posted by: irockthered | December 13, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

@cityspirit - Oh - the stick... nevermind; I'm blind, LOL!

Posted by: irockthered | December 13, 2008 1:41 AM | Report abuse

@kittypawz

More... Things We Didn't Expect To See This Season (And Reasonably Couldn't)

How about:

- Nylander on the 4th line
- Ovie's 9 game slump (yet still in the top three in league scoring)
- Ovie/Malkin fight (oh, we didn't see that... yet)

Posted by: CAP-lanta | December 13, 2008 1:42 AM | Report abuse

It's funny that Tarik mentioned Leonhardt in his chat earlier today. Probably the first time anyone had ever heard his name, and then a few hours later he was in the Washington Capitals lineup...

Posted by: Hatfield223 | December 13, 2008 4:03 AM | Report abuse

So.but.wha?.oh man. Left for work before all this goalie nonsense happened. Got a text about Theo being hurt, Stretch backing up Johnny til Varly got there and my only thought was "are you effing kidding me? not another injury" It didn't even occur to me to be surprised at Stretch. Didn't get home from work til after one, still watching the third period. My lands, this team is scary good sometimes. Just wow. I have to confess to cringing whenever Johnny has to make a save now though because I don't want him hurt.
"When Simeon Varlamov was told by reporters that he might [get] his first NHL start against Montreal the 20-year-old's eyes grew very wide." Ummm, this might make me sound like a really big girl, but awwww. I hope he gets some sleep tonight. Hopefully the Russian contingent can keep him occupied and not thinking about it.
Excited about the game tonight. Probably going to watch it with the old man. Last game I watched with him was the 10-2 shellacking of the Bruins last season. Would be nice to see something like that again. Let's go Caps!!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | December 13, 2008 4:11 AM | Report abuse

@pawz

* Pens fans mass-voting for OVI for the all stars.
* Schultz hitting someone

@jmu
hang on... you mean you have to *convince* him to watch a game?

Posted by: mauree | December 13, 2008 4:46 AM | Report abuse

Did BB say vociferous?

Great game - enjoyed what I saw. Nice to see so many of the guys coming back. They are incredible - not to get ahead of myself, but I can't wait to see how they do in the playoffs this time. I know - one day at a time ... let's hope for a solid win tonight!!

mauree:
I know I should not complain - I will think about you when I am at the VC on the 18th ... ;-)

Jim:
Leeguru already took my picnic basket ...

Posted by: HeyBooBoo | December 13, 2008 4:55 AM | Report abuse

wow they have Stretch story on the front page of nhl.com

Posted by: mauree | December 13, 2008 5:05 AM | Report abuse

mauree,
Yeah, unfortunately I'm the only one who still watches hockey regularly in my family. He's an old Isles fan anyways. And the Stretch story is *everywhere*! Fox Sports, ESPN, NHL, TSN. They're all running it.

Not sure if anyone has posted this yet, but Fox Sports has Backs rated as the 3rd best sophomore in the league, behind Price & Kane.
http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/8922016#sport=NHL&photo=

I will definitely be in the building on Thursday, and going to try and stop by practice on Friday to give the new camera another run.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | December 13, 2008 5:22 AM | Report abuse

@jmu

ahi ahi ahi all your hockey enthusiasm and knowledge not put to good use in the family... same with my gf and football-fanatics friends... well at least we can write in this blog :)


Posted by: mauree | December 13, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

It's great to see everyone getting healthy finally. When everyone is healthy and on top of their game, Caps will be unbeatable. :D

Posted by: rachel216 | December 13, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

hopefully, we can fix some of our issues on the road tonight, but we played last night and Montreal did'nt, thank-you Gary Bettman. I say the kid starts tonight.

Posted by: ergoroc | December 13, 2008 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I don't have a good feeling about tonight, partially because of our road issues, partly because we blanked them last time, and partly because of the goaltending situation. I'll still worry when I do have a good feeling, but that's because I don't want to jinx it. This is different - I think we could be in trouble.

I wish Varlamov all the best, and I'd love to see him pull out a W. Here's hoping.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 13, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Varlamov might start?

Hmm ... might have to skip a buddy's birthday party for this.

Posted by: Cerealman | December 13, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I think its a good spot to put the young Russian in the line-up. We have been less than stellar on the back end of back -to- backs, so maybe the guys will dig deep and focus a little bit more with him in net.
Does anyone know Simeon's middle name??

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 13, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

So does this mean that when we win the Cup this year, Stretch will get a ring?...now that's Disney!

Posted by: CapsSkins | December 13, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

*takes off his troll vest*

So, I've been on the Canadiens boards. Apparently they're suffering from "lack of effort" when playing against "sub-500 teams"... but we might (might!) not fall in that category since we won against them.

They're also claiming that Theo "suffered a hip flexor injury during the Capitals' morning skate", they are in bad situation injury-wise but they are happy with the AHL calls-up since they play with more intensity than the veteran sometimes.

Price is not sure to play tonight.

They still think Stretch is Brent's backup. To summarize: "Tonights game is nationwide on CBC, lets send the Washington squad reeling back to earth"

Posted by: mauree | December 13, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Is Carey Price going to get the start for Montreal tonight??

Posted by: rachel216 | December 13, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I hope Varlamov got some sleep last night. lol.

Posted by: elicea | December 13, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Missed the game doing Christmas tree shopping, etc., but am so psyched about ol' Stretch-o getting to suit up. I love the Caps Report and Brett does a great job. I think it's awesome that he got to stop some rubber, even if it was only in warm-ups.

Great win for the Caps. Let's carry the momentum to Montreal, and good luck to Simeon! (I'm assuming he'll get the start given Jonny's sore...) Davaj Simeon!!!

Posted by: BigRed8 | December 13, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

@ Boo! -- Channel your inner Yogi and steal the basket back from Leeguru. You are channelling too much Booboo.

@ Kittypawz -- I did not expect OV to level Chara. I know its OV, but Chara is a wall. What's next? Semin knocking out Pronger? Schultz dropping his gloves against St. Louis? Varmalov getting a W tonight in Montreal? Yes, yes, yes!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | December 13, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

WOO! Let's go CAPS!

Damn, I am so mad at myself. The second time all season I leave the camera at home, and THIS happens?! STUPID ANKLE!!!

Posted by: irockthered | December 13, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Looking at the all star voting -- what a joke! Chara is the behind Gonchar (who sucks at defense) and Tim Thomas is in last place from the goalie list provided -- let the players pick like football

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | December 13, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

irockthered

what was the score the first time? If we won both time, don't bring the unlucky camera to games anymore :p

Posted by: mauree | December 13, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I missed Stretch taking warmups (it would have been nice if CSN showed it.) That picture that cityspirit posted made my morning though! Puck in the net behind him, one bouncing off his chest, equipent that looks like it was just purchased, that is GREAT!

We are getting healthy, and I believe those remaining called up are better than those they replaced. Alzner is playing so well (IMO) that I didn't realize he was playing until midway through the 2nd period. That means his name wasn't called for any reason. Sloan is still playing well. Giroux is doing better than Clark. Can't wait to see what Varlamov can do. I'm excited.

Now, where is windjammersouth with that injury update? where are the negative nancy's with how this team is looking doomed? We just went through a month that would destroy most teams' season, and we are still in first. GO CAPS!

Posted by: Leeguru | December 13, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

By the way don't forget to cast your vote for OVI:

http://fanballoting.nhl.com

I returned the Pens fans favor and voted OVI-Semin-Malkin. Crosby's solid in first, but need to remove the Canadiens from the top positions they really don't deserve.

Posted by: mauree | December 13, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Sergei Viktorovich;)

Posted by: nafanaa | December 13, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Sergei - it was great to have you back in the game last night!

Posted by: plinkwired | December 13, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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