Caps 7, Islanders 2
How do you know when a team's offense is clicking? When John Erskine records his first goal in 109 games and sets up another with a slick-looking assist. That's how.
The Caps routed the Islanders 7-2 at Nassau Coliseum to record their season-best seventh straight victory and their 16th game with five or more goals this season. They're now averaging 3.81 goals per game; second-place San Jose is averaging 3.28.
"We got seven goals and [Alex Ovechkin] and [Mike Green] didn't get a point," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It says you've good balance in your team."
The big news of the night, however, had to to with goaltender Jose Theodore. The veteran suffered a lower body injury and did not return for the third period. Boudreau hinted that the Caps may have to recall a goalie from Hershey. I'm thinking it will be touted prospect Braden Holtby, who is 15-2-1 with an AHL-leading 1.82 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
Here's my gamer, and here are a few notes and quotes from the Island:
*The Caps have won seven in a row three times under Boudreau. But they haven't won eight in a row since the 1988-89 season. They can do that tomorrow night at Verizon Center against the Anaheim Ducks, who are coming off a 2-1 loss in Atlanta tonight.
*Six Capitals - Alexander Semin, Erskine, Brendan Morrison, Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera - had two points tonight. For Chimera, it was his
first second two point game as a Capital. For Morrison, the goal was his first in a month and his first multi-point game since Dec. 3.
*Erskine not only scored his first goal in two years tonight, he also had a pretty set up in the first period, when he put a move on an Islander at the point, then fired a shot that Morrison tipped past Dwayne Roloson.
"109 games?" Erskine said after being told the length of his goal drought. "Fehrsie saw me and snuck the pass through. It makes you feel good. I don't get them too often, so I wasn't even sure what to do when it went in."
Boudreau added: "I was very happy for him. There's not many guys that work harder than him, and he gets rewarded. You always think he should have more because he's got a good shot and he's got good offensive instincts."
*Theodore wasn't the only player to go down tonight. Islanders defenseman Jack Hillen got hit in the mouth by an Ovechkin slap shot in the first period. Hillen bled profusely on the ice and was later taken to the hospital. That's all I've heard.
"We hate that," Boudreau said. "When you've got kids playing hockey, and you see that, you just hope his face is okay."
A hush fell over the crowd and I suspect the Islanders let up momentarily as they worried about their comrade. Hillen crumpled to the ice with about two minutes to go in the first period and the Caps scored two more times to send the game into the second, 4-1.
*Weird to see the Caps get seven goals and Ovechkin finish with 10 shots but no points. I though No. 8 was flying tonight, beginning with that shot he took while sliding on his knees a minute into the game. He also had a nice break-in later, but was stopped.
*The Caps' streak of 14 straight penalties killed ended on their first shorthanded situation of the night. Rob Schremp fired a pretty shot past Theodore short-side to make it 4-1.
*Mike Green didn't get a point, but he filled the scoresheet in other ways: two shots, four takeaways and three blocked shots.
*It took three whacks, but Mike Knuble finally got the puck past Roloson in the first period. That was his ninth goal in 13 games.
The Caps don't get much of a turnaround before facing the Ducks tomorrow night. But with Anaheim flying in from Atlanta, neither team figures to have much of an advantage.
January 26, 2010; 11:24 PM ET
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