Caps Blank Panthers
One night after getting trounced in Atlanta, the Caps were better tonight at BankAtlantic Center. The defense was good, Jose Theodore was solid and they got some much-needed secondary scoring en route to a 3-0 win over a Florida team that didn't put up much of a fight, particularly late.
As I said, I thought the Caps' defense was good. But it got plenty of help from the supposedly desperate Panthers, who registered zero shots on goal in the third period.
That's right, zero.
When I told Mike Green, he didn't believe me. I told John Erskine, who shook his head and laughed. Coach Bruce Boudreau, who has seen everything there is to see in hockey probably three times, said it was a first for him, too.
"I've never been involved in a game where that's happened," Boudreau said of holding the Panthers without a shot for the final 20 minutes. "It's a great testament to our players. They proved they can do it when they want to do it. It was a total team win and we got that secondary scoring."
According to the media guide, it was the third time the Caps held an opponent without a shot in a period. And it's the second time they've done it to Florida.
I asked Theodore if it's hard for a goaltender to maintain his focus when there's so little action around his net. He assured me that he never got bored.
"When it's a 1-0 or 2-0 game, you're never bored," he said. "If it was a 5-0 game in the third period, maybe I'm bored. But tonight I was just really focused."
Theodore made 19 saves to record his second shutout of the season and the 28th shutout of his career. But more important, it restored his confidence after being pulled in Atlanta.
"When you play almost every game, the good thing is you can bounce back right away," he said. "Tonight is a great example. Yesterday was a totally different team than we saw tonight. It was not my best game [against the Thrashers] but tonight I was ready for the challenge."
A Lot to Laich
Brooks Laich notched the 18th goal of the season -- shorthanded -- and is closing in on his career high of 21, which he set last season. Laich beat Tomas Vokoun with a beautiful shot from a tight angle that went under Vokoun's blocker and kissed the post on the way in. Looked to me that Vokoun overplayed Laich and was out of position as a result.
Then on Viktor Kozlov's goal, Laich was in a familiar spot on the ice: parked in front of Vokoun.
"I don't know what more to say about [Laich]," Boudreau said. "He's a solid professional."
Mr. Bouwmeester to You
Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was all over the place tonight. Alex Ovechkin didn't have his strongest effort, but a lot of that had to do with No. 4 on the Panthers, who never seemed to be more than a few strides away from the reigning MVP.
"Alex might have been smothered," Boudreau said. "But that's why you need secondary scoring. You put your best player, in their case Bouwmeester, on Alex, you need your other lines to step up."
Tomas Fleischmann got off to a strong start this season, but the crafty winger has struggled mightily of late. He has only one goal in 17 games and no points in his past nine games. Tonight, he didn't register a shot on goal in 14:17, which was the fifth-highest ice time total among the forwards.
That's all from me tonight. I've got another early-morning flight to Tampa, where the Caps are not expected to practice. I will, however, be on duty and plan to have a story on Laich in Thursday's paper.
March 17, 2009; 11:44 PM ET
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