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Caps 7, Lightning 4

The Caps snapped a two-game losing streak against Southeast Division opponents with the win over Tampa Bay last night, but concern from both teams about the health of defenseman Jamie Heward, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hit by Alex Ovechkin 6:45 into the third period, overshadowed everything else.

It's unclear whether Heward saw Ovechkin coming at the last second as he chased the puck toward the boards, but the 37-year-old's head appeared to take the full force of Ovechkin's hit. Heward fell to the ice and was unconscious for about 90 seconds, Lightning Coach Rick Tocchet said.

Heward suffered a concussion but Tocchet added that he does have feeling in his extremities. He was taken to Sibley Memorial Hospital where he will stay overnight for evaluation.

*Tocchet said it was hard to fully evaluate the hit, but didn't believe Ovechkin was trying to hurt his former teammate. Heward played 123 regular season games with the Caps between the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.

"It's a tough one because consistently they're calling anything (involving) heads, a blow to the head," Tocchet said. "I don't think Ovechkin intentionally was trying to hurt him and be dirty. We were just asking if he left his feet a little bit."

"I talked to the refs," Tocchet said. "It's a bang-bang play and Marc Joannette, he's a good referee, and he couldn't really tell. They'll look at it again and they'll make an assessment."

*Here is Ovechkin's take on the hit. He stayed on the ice as medical personnel tended to Heward and seemed a bit shaken up when the game resumed after watching his former teammate get taken off the ice.

"I don't know (if he saw me)" Ovechkin said. "He just turned at the last second. It's hard for me. He was my teammate and I know him well...I hope he is okay. I didn't want to hit him hard, he just turned. It was (an) accident and I'm very sorry. I never want to hurt somebody, especially my old teammate....I'm very sorry but it's a game, and it's a moment. He turns, and I have speed."

Now on to the rest of tonight's notes and quotes.

*Chris Clark scored his first goal of the season -- his first since Nov. 28, 2007 -- in the third period off a nice pass from Michael Nylander. Washington's captain made his presence known earlier in the game though when he fought Tampa's Adam Hall. The fight was a draw but noticeable considering Clark still has a cast on his right arm.

Clark didn't make too much of the goal though. "We've been winning," he said. "If we were losing and I haven't been contributing it'd be really hard, but since we're winning it really doesn't matter."

*The Caps had quite the outburst of secondary scoring beginning with defenseman Sean Collins, who recorded his first career NHL goal in the first period. It was his 11th career NHL game.

*Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley recorded their first multiple point games of the season, each with a goal and an assist.

*The Caps' seven goals tonight are the most Lightning netminder Mike Smith has given up in a single game this season. Washington has now won seven straight contests against Tampa Bay marking the longest winning streak by either team in series history. It is also the Caps' longest active streak against any opponent.

*There were a few more milestones tonight as Bruce Boudreau coached his 100th career NHL game (62-28-10) and Mike Green played in his 200th.

*Brent Johnson has stopped both penalty shots he's faced this season after thwarting Adam Hall's attempt in the second period. He has given up one goal in four attempts during his career.

*The win gave the Caps their third, five-game winning streak of the 2008-09 season.

*And what's a home game without the record update? The Caps are now 16-1-1 at Verizon Center.

By Katie Carrera  |  January 1, 2009; 11:26 PM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks Katie. I hope Heward is OK.

Glad to see Clark coming back.

Posted by: uncatim | January 1, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

From the last thread:

Overall, the first period we looked good;

Gotta disagree with you there. No way that team deserved to go into the locker room up by 3 considering the way they played.

And +1 on the poor officiating. Seriously, waving off the 4th Tampa goal because the 2nd ref/4th official was out of position? And the Detroit goal went through the same thing today? Either give the refs the chance to consult with the linesman on calls or pull the 2nd ref off, it's a fracking waste of ice.

Posted by: Section117 | January 1, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Poor Heward. That made me queesy. I hope he's ok. He was goodfor us, and I liked him.
Tampa had a really bad night. That team is a mess and a shadow of their former selves. Sad to see. Tortarella is vindicated.

Posted by: oo7 | January 1, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised Ovechkin was shaken up by that hit. He didn't mean to hurt the guy, let alone knock him out for 90+ seconds.

@Section117 - I've seen worse. MUCH worse. We did, however, pull it together, finally, at the last half of the third, and started looking like the team we're supposed to look like.

Posted by: irockthered | January 1, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Just got back. I'm glad for the win, but ....

- Did anyone else think that just about everyone seemed off tonight? Missed passes, whiffs, fans, losing the puck? Not just after Heward went down, but the whole game. The first period went okay, the second was atrocious, and the third improved, but it's like the whole team was half a beat out of sync. I can't point to any one person as being a culprit for that, because I saw at LEAST five different players doing it more than once, forwards and D alike. It's like the bug was all over the team.

- Mike Smith's got to work on those clearing passes. o.o He got KILLED on those.

- The hit on Heward looked clean from where I was sitting. There certainly wasn't any dirty intent there, and it wouldn't be Ovi if there was. Poor Ovi - I could tell he was upset and I wanted to give him a big hug. I really did. Did anyone else think the hit was eerily similar to the hit on Pothier?

- One of the linesmen was continuously in the way of the puck and once got it tangled in his skates, breaking up an offensive rush. Annoying.

- A goal and a fighting major. :) What more could you ask for from Clark? I thought he did really well out there tonight. Was it me or did Laich and Clark seem in sync with Nylander half a step behind? Maybe it's me.

- Agreed that the Heward incident just killed all the game momentum, in both directions, and seemed to just reset everything to zero. A very, very chilling incident. I hope to continue to hear updates.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 1, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Man... I just watched the replay of the hit on Heward. From the angle they had on the Joe B. and Locker broadcast, you can't see anything. I'm a bit upset that the Lightning's coach implied Ovechkin might have "left his feet" before the hit, but I really can't tell from the angle they showed it what happened, other than Heward's head was down and went into the glass.

@Tarik or Katie - Is there any chance Ovi could be suspended for that hit? I hope not - I believe him totally that it was an accident; he looked so worried...

Sports Illustrated's account had him sitting on a table outside the Lightning dressing room, head bowed, waiting for news. They said Heward was taken to Sibley Hospital, and will be kept overnight for observation... hopefully they'll release him tomorrow and he'll be OK quickly.

Posted by: irockthered | January 1, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope it was just a concussion. When I saw it from my seats, I thought it was beyond bad. The trainer calling for help was reminiscent of Thiesman, and the hit reminded me of Roy (BU). I've seen two people in my rec leagues carted off an its never a good thing. Hewie was a good guy (I even looked at his house when it was for sale) and a good Cap, and let's hope he's back playing in a couple of days.

On more useful comments, Tampa should have kept Melrose. They are terrible and it wasn't his fault they sucked.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | January 1, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that this isn't exactly an auspicious start to 2009?

Posted by: kittypawz | January 2, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

@ CAP-lanta (from last thread)

Buffalo (the one with the crazy ovie goal) was 4 games ago. I limited my evaluation to 2-3 games.

I agree with everyone else - keep his family in your thoughts ;)

Posted by: patrone | January 2, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

The hit/injury totally took the air out of the game. What was weird was that it wasnt even that big of a hit. Granted, my seats are about 20 rows behind where Heward went down, so nobody could see the way he hit the boards, but we were all surprised to see the trainers coming out since it did not seem like a big hit at all. In fact, nobody really noticed it.

Johnny made some nice saves in the 2nd (including on the terrible Penalty shot call) that kept us ahead, but overall, hungover defense and B- goaltending.

Posted by: wahoo_Mike | January 2, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Man, I'd forgotten about that awful call for the penalty shot. Can we get some decent refs for the next game, please??

Posted by: Hatfield223 | January 2, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Was it Heward that took the skate to the face from Modano a few seasons back?

Posted by: SuperG5 | January 2, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

There was a lot of questionable calls. The penalty shot was a joke, and in the first before he took a penalty, Ovie got his stick slashed in half and there was no call.

Hope Heward is OK. I was really worried at first that it could be a neck injury. Glad to hear he has feeling in his hands and feet.

Not to sound cold but I also hope this doesn't ruin Ovie's aggressiveness long term.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | January 2, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Yes. I was at that game where Heward got sliced. My buddy nearly threw up. Hope he's okay.

Posted by: hoya93 | January 2, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

The win was great and continued our winning momentum. However, I didn't like it that we lost our 3-goal advantage less than halfway through the game, and came close to at least a tie or worse. Did any one else think that the defense was especially uneven? Johny's goal tending was respectable but not a threat to the "new" version of Theo that we saw in the last 3 1/2 games for the #1 spot.

Posted by: caraveli | January 2, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

it would not bother me if OV lightened up on his hitting some. it does inflict some punishment/intimidation but he also will eventually feel the effects of such physical play. but from watching him play since day one - i don't see him really letting up. i truly believe that it is all instinct with him.
hope heward does not have a pothier type injury

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 2, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

I watched the hit a couple of times and it was clearly not a dirty hit. It would be criminal for the NHL to suspend him over that.

That said, it was a sick feeling watching this guy down on the ice. I am praying that it was just a concussion. I really thought it was going to be much worse.

Posted by: deann_r2002 | January 2, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

caraveli:
i saw it a little differently. it looked to me as if TB was trying to pull a 'caps' and just didn't give up. i think a lot of times some teams just go through the motions to finish the game

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 2, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

sombrero

Tix were with a friend tonight so I got to watch from home. You mention that you hope it doesn't hurt his agressive play. Couple years back he nailed Emo kid from behind and it took him a while to get his hitting style back. I fear he might not be quite right until Jamie is back on the ice. The goal he scored was a typical Ovie style goal (vs emmy nonetheless) and may be a strong indication of how he was doing.

On the game. We did a fantastic job of screening BJ01 tonight. Guys need a full practice to work on getting out of the lanes. And...as much as I love Nyls, I still have no idea what the heck he was doing on that 2nd TB goal. Just glad he got one back with the set-up for Clarkie. I was screaming so loud for him after that goal.

G'night everyone. Here's to Jamie's health.

Posted by: FFSEnough | January 2, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

'nhl on the fly' did an update and indicated that heward was being treated like it was a concussion type injury

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 2, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

Just like someone else indicated earlier, it wasn't a dirty hit, nor was it a big hit. Regardless, I offer Jamie my best wishes. Once a Cap, always a Cap.

Posted by: MikeM128 | January 2, 2009 2:06 AM | Report abuse

Clean or dirty, I was surprised that no Bolts player went after OV.

There is a code, you hurt my guy, be ready to go.
I realize it's not the "euro" way, it's a matter of principal.

Posted by: Pivot | January 2, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

i really hope heward's ok...

i got to the box office at 5:30, and every ticket was sold out! sucks for me, but its great that tix are in such demand now opposing 2 years ago when you could just walk up to the box office at 7 and still get cheap tix...

Posted by: RussianMachineNeverBreaks | January 2, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

It was not a dirty hit at all if the league suspend him for this it just adds to the joke that Campbell and Bettman are. You get suspended for a clean hit yet you can run in punch a guy in the groin and run away with just 2 PIMS.

Posted by: CalleJo | January 2, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

It was frustrating that the sole replay of the hit was inconclusive. It looked pretty mild.

During the 3rd period it seemed as though Green made 3 or 4 horrible passes coming out of the zone, almost as if his shoulder was hurt.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | January 2, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the previous poster that while it is great to see Ovie's aggressiveness, in the end, he needs to learn to pick his spots a little better to save the wear and tear on his own body. Remember Eric Lindros, anybody? When Eric first came into the league, he was also determined to hit anything that moved. I have to think that all that hard contact eventually shortened and curtailed a potentially fabulous career. Ovie is still young enough to dish it out as well as take it, but over his career, he is going to have to learn to use the big hits more sparingly if he wants a long career. He is the best player on the planet right now, and hopefully his body will allow him to continue to be so over many years. It is a treat watching him!

Posted by: TJO73 | January 2, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game (first NHL game ever, courtesy of corporate seats that came my way just yesterday morning). It was a blast! 2nd row seats, at that--right to the right of the Tampa Bay bench.

I didn't see the hit when it happened, but seeing Jamie Heward lay on the ice for what seemed like an eternity and not moving at all was extremely upsetting and, yes, scary. I immediately said prayers for him. I was relieved when I saw his right skates move a little bit shortly before he was lifted onto the stretcher.

It wasn't until later that I learned it was from a hit by Ovechkin, but I saw him over there with the medical personnel and Tampa players looking very concerned and somber.

The Verizon Center crowd gave an impressive, extended ovation as Jamie was placed on the stretcher and taken away from the ice...

I really hope he recovers quickly and comes back to the game he loves as soon as possible.

Last note: As a Baltimore area resident and a full-fledged fan of Baltimore sports teams (Go, Ravens!), I can say that I am now a new, converted Washington (Capitals) and NHL fan. GO, CAPS!

Posted by: RFinMD | January 2, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I think the 'code' business is overstated. If you go for The Big Hit (see Sloan, Tyler), someone's coming for you. If you're giving the routine bashing of hockey (the last hit on Semin, or last night Seward), you'll merely receive the same. Not every injury deserves a rumble.
Ovechkin's hit, like the Caps D last night, didn't look like much. But 90 seconds unconscious is alarming. Here's hoping Heward heals completely and soon.

Posted by: redlineblue | January 2, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

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