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Posted at 12:23 AM ET, 01/ 9/2011

Caps get the goals they need, beat Panthers 3-2

By Katie Carrera

Washington earned a much-needed win over a Southeast Division foe Saturday night at Verizon Center, defeating the Panthers, 3-2, with clutch third-period goals after weeks of struggling to score at critical junctures of games or with much regularly at all.

In describing his game-winning tally after the contest, Alex Ovechkin replied: "It was just one move and the puck goes in -- finally." This hasn't been the traditional start to a season for Ovechkin, with 15 goals in 42 games, but his shot that beat Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen glove side as Ovechkin fell to the ice on a breakaway chance looked more like the Washington captain's usual flair than any of his goals or chances in recent memory.

"In a long time," Coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked how long it's been since he's seen the style of this particular Ovechkin goal. "Hopefully it's a sign of things to come."

Ovechkin finished with six shots on goal with three blocked and two that missed in 20:33 of ice time and he too hopes this can be something to build on. He has three goals and eight points in the past 13 games.

"I always took it to heart," Ovechkin said of the pressure to score goals. "My numbers are not that good or where they're supposed to be, but it's the middle of the season and there are 40 games left. We'll see what's going to happen at the end of the year."

Prior to Ovechkin's goal, which made it 3-1 in favor of Washington in the third period, Mike Green converted on the power play with a backhander in front of the net that beat Clemmensen blocker side. It was a simple play, started by Eric Fehr, who carried the puck from the boards to the middle of the ice and sent it to the front of the net where Green was skating into open space between Florida penalty killers.

It marked the second time in the game that Fehr and Green combined for a goal as Green recorded the primary assist on the first Capitals' goal of the game by Fehr in the second period.

"I think that's why we've had such close games is our power play's been struggling," Green said. "I think in the past when we get one on the power play, then we'll get one from our third or fourth line and we'll have three or four goals. Without the power play going we're struggling to win games."

Said Boudreau of the seemingly simplistic play to score that important power-play goal, which gave Washington its first lead of the contest: "It's not simple to score but simple plays was one of the big keys in the game....When you're in a slump, as a real ex-hockey player you used to try to be real cute with things, to make the perfect play and in the end what you have to do is just work harder and go to the net more. If you do that then something will bounce off you and that will be the jump start to where you want to be."

Green's goal was the topper on another all-around strong showing by the two-time Norris Trophy finalist. He finished with two points, five shots, three hits and two blocked shots in a team-high 24:10 of ice time that included 2:51 on the penalty kill in what was his first multi-point game since Nov. 14 against Atlanta. Green has six points in the last six games.

"Mike, you can see, is starting to get his confidence and his legs," Boudreau said.

--Number of the night: 96 minutes 27 seconds is how long the Capitals went between goals from Fehr's second tally in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 to his marker in the second period against Florida.

--Boudreau said Alexander Semin took a hip to his thigh when he was hit by Florida's Steve Bernier in the second period. Semin tumbled to the ice after the collision and was slow to get up. He skated one more shift in the game but would not return to the bench for the start of the third period.

By Katie Carrera  | January 9, 2011; 12:23 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Florida Panthers, Injuries  
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Next: Eric Fehr takes another step toward consistency with goal against Panthers

Comments

Nice game by Fehr and Green. Glad Ovi is scoring again.

Will Fehr be on the second line for the Caps game on Tuesday or will they leave him on the third line? And, if Fehr won't be 2RW, who will hold that role?

Get well, Sasha!

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 9, 2011 12:41 AM | Report abuse

@ capsfan75
Brown might be streaky, but so is Semin. Brown still averages 22 g/season during his last 5, and is on pace for 34 this year. And his caphit is acctually "only" 3,175 per year.

I think his physical presence (148 hits in 40 gms) makes him a lot more valuable to us then Semin, while Knuble is declining every year it makes him a good fit for our 1st line. And it gives us the space to go after a true 2C (Zajac as i proposed in my previous comment).

Ovi-Backs-Brown
Fehr-Zajac-Laich
Would be more than ok by me!

Posted by: Walle | January 9, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

I find it hilarious reading some of the posters complaining about the Caps now. They were the same ones complaining in the offseason about playing more defensive, and how the Habs didn't get lucky but that they beat us because of their great coaching and great defense.

Now, the Caps have gone 6-0-2 in their last eight and have allowed 2 goals or less in ALL of those games, have a great PK unit, and have given up very few odd man rushes against(night and day compared to last year). But now when the Caps win that defensive way it is because they are lucky. They won because they played solid D and were able to cash in a few of their opportunities. Isn't that the exact type of game you guys have been moaning for for the past two years. Now you get it and you find something else to complain about. I'm not sure if you actually believe what you are complaining about or that you are just looking for anything to complain about because that's who you are. It's sort of sad. Try to enjoy watching the games. It's entertainment.

On Erskine- I would be fine with him playing, but don't use the last two games as an example of why Erskine needs to play. The Caps let up 0 regulation goals to Tampa and 2 to Florida. Neither team had many scoring chances either. I will take those kind of results no matter who was playing D.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 9, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse

On the game. I thought the 3rd and 4th lines played great. The Chimera/MP/Fehr line created a lot of chances. The Hendricks/Steckel/Beagle line was solid again.

The D group was very solid again and Mike Green was absolutely awesome. That may have been his best game so far. He was jumping into the play at the right times, creating offense. But he was never out of position on defense, laid a few hits, and was solid in his own zone the entire game. Hopefully, we will continue to see more of this Green(he has played nearly as well in his last few also, he seems to be picking up his game).

Posted by: sgm3 | January 9, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

On Erskine- I would be fine with him playing, but don't use the last two games as an example of why Erskine needs to play. The Caps let up 0 regulation goals to Tampa and 2 to Florida. Neither team had many scoring chances either. I will take those kind of results no matter who was playing D.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 9, 2011 1:13 AM | Report abuse

The Caps gave up 1 goal in Erskine's last 2 games before his benching. They've given up 3 goals in the two games since. From where I stand, looks likes our gaa went up a whole goal in Erskine's absence...from 0.50 to 1.50

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 9, 2011 1:23 AM | Report abuse

and I think giving up 1 goal to Pitt/Mtl is more impressive than 3 to TB/FLA.

Erskine's nothing but a victim of BB's caste system

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 9, 2011 1:25 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

So what should our lines be for Tuesday's game? Should we leave the 3rd and 4th lines together as is or do we move Eric Fehr up to the 2nd line, move Beagle up to the 3rd to take Fehr's place?

I'm assuming Bradley and Boyd Gordon will not be ready then.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 9, 2011 1:34 AM | Report abuse

So what should our lines be for Tuesday's game? Should we leave the 3rd and 4th lines together as is or do we move Eric Fehr up to the 2nd line, move Beagle up to the 3rd to take Fehr's place?

I'm assuming Bradley and Boyd Gordon will not be ready then.

Posted by: CapsFan75

That's a tough call, but if Semin doesn't play I think you have to put Fehr on the 2nd line. Then I would put DJK with MP and Chimera(or call up AGordon if the Semin injury is reasonably serious). That would be a weird energy line, but they would just be getting 4th line time. (Also, Fehr could take one or two double shifts if DJK wasn't doing anything).

I would not touch the Hendricks/Steckel/Beagle line, they have been playing too well and are the defensive/checking line. I am all for keeping them together and playing them more to gain more familiarity with each other.

@vermontcaps

Listen, I agree the goals against were very good the previous games with Erskine as well. I'm not saying he should have been sat, but for the 2 games that he has sat the defensive results have been about just as great. (2 regulation goals to 1 regulation goal) There hasn't been much difference so far.

Again, I'm not saying Erskine should be say or anything, but the defense has been more than fine the past two games with him on the bench. Will it continue? Who knows. We will see. Maybe Erskine plays on Tuesday.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 9, 2011 1:43 AM | Report abuse

or recall a.gordon

Posted by: Walle | January 9, 2011 1:46 AM | Report abuse

If you were from Mars and came on here for the first time, you might think this Erskine guy was the most important player on this team.

However none of us are from Mars so we know for a fact that ain't the case no matter how hard vermont tries to tell us otherwise.

He and hunterforcoach are like racing "fans" who claim to love the sport because they enjoy watching cars wreck and flip over 20 times. They only love it for all the sideshows that most of us consider distractions.

Posted by: joek443 | January 9, 2011 8:22 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Fehr for second line makes sense. That's what I would do. So now we have to wait & see. If either Bradley or B. Gordon were here, it would make the decision a little easier.

I'm guessing Semin's out for this week -- at least. So that will probably mean a callup for AG.

And, now what do the Caps do when B Gordon and Bradley come back? There will be lots of roster decisions to make. It seems that Beagle has done really well lately. Much improved. I remember back in the day, he used to not play many minutes during callups. Now, he has a real role on the team. Will MP stay or be sent down? If the former, what do they then do? Does King get waived? Do other people get traded?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 9, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

@joek443

I don't think anyone on here thinks Erskine is Nick Lidstrom, but he has played quite well this season and has earned his spot in the lineup. Poti has been nursing injuries all year and isn't that impressive when he plays. The thing that bothers me most is when BB says people will play based on merit and then does the exact opposite. Everything that comes out of his mouth is crap. Caps win on pure talent alone most nights, not his coaching.

Do you not like the physical aspect of hockey? If you don't like big hits and guys dropping the mitts, then you should just stick to watching baseball. Please don't be one of those people who want to change the game.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | January 9, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

7 good healthy defensemen. Someone has to sit, may as well be the guy who is the most physical. We need 4 for the playoffs, no sense burning him out right now. Poti needed some work after being out. Erskine will be back in the lineup tuesday and someone else will sit. 7 healhty d is a good problem to have. deal with it.

Posted by: pebowers | January 9, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Erskine will be back in the lineup tuesday and someone else will sit. 7 healhty d is a good problem to have. deal with it.

Posted by: pebowers | January 9, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

You really think BB is going to "rotate" 7 dmen? This is like Ground Hog Day, only instead of Corvo we get Hannan.

So Poti misses a week because of his concussion, now Erskine misses a week so that Poti can "find his legs." Will Erskine now get consecutive games plus, so that he can find his game legs, too?

BB came out and publicly said ice-time would be based on merit. Well, I'm glad some astute posters here are calling BB on his BLATANT LIE. Caps gave up 1 goal, going 2-0-0 against Pitt/Mtl. We take #4 out and give up 3 goals, going 1-0-1 against TB/FLA. CLEARLY, BB ISN'T GIVING THE CAPS THE BEST CHANCE TO WIN BY BENCHING ERSKINE.

Just so everyone knows, here are the stats for the backline since Hannan came on board and BB said ice-time would be based on merit:

Carlson (17gp) 1g 5a 6pts +3 12hits 27blocks 24shots 12giveaways 12takeaways 0fights

Alzner (17gp) 1g 2a 3pts +2 32hits 19blocks 25shots 8giveaways 7takeaways 0fights

Green (15gp) 3g 4a 7pts +1 44hits 32blocks 38shots 15giveaways 9takeaways 0fights

Erskine (13gp) 0g 3a 3pts +2 35hits 20blocks 13shots 7giveaways 0takeaways 1fight

Poti (12gp) 0g 5a 5pts -4 3hits 15blocks 12shots 8giveaways 0takeaways 0fights

Hannan (16gp) 0g 0a 0pts -6 19hits 25blocks 7shots 14giveaways 1takeaway 0fights

Shultz (8gp) 0g 0a 0pts even 5hits 13blocks 3shots 5giveaways 2takeaway 0fights

Yes, the chosen ones have assumed their guaranteed spots and Erskine is the odd-man out once again. I doubt we'll see him on Tuesday as BB will say, "The D is playing really well and the pairings are starting to develop some chemistry. It's important we have some continuity on the backline as it can only have a positive impact on the forwards, and we need to get our offense clicking."

Watch how BB will praise the 6dmen for the last couple games, but there will be nary a word coming from the coach praising #4. So long as BB is the coach, we'll be nothing but a doormat for other teams to step-on as they march to the Stanley Cup.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 9, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

He certainly praised the work of backline in the winter classic. Anyone with eyes could see they played well. I think BB is not as concerned with these regular season games as he is with the playoffs. I truly think he wants Erskine rested and ready for April, if I am wrong then I am wrong. I want 4 playing in the playoffs at his best, it would be foolish to not want this. If this means the most physical dman we have sits some nights in January then I am fine with it. If we drop a few regular season games so be it. Just a reminder, 4 played 6 of the 8 games during the winless streak. He sat one of the games we got a point during that streak. Not saying he caused us to lose, just saying having him in the lineup does not make for a sure W

Posted by: pebowers | January 9, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I guess things are going well again. The biggest topic is who is the 6th and 7th d-men on this team. I'm pretty sure the Caps will not be "a doormat for other teams to step-on" in the playoffs based on Erskine being in or of the lineup. Don't worry Poti will get injured soon so, Erskine will get to play again. BTW, all of you are hurting Sloan's feelings by not adding him to the d-mix.
IMO the 3rd & 4th lines are adapting to the defense 1st concept because 3rd & 4th lines are normally defensive lines.
Semin has been such a non-factor for the past month, there won't be a dropoff no matter who replaces him.
What BB & GMGM said during HBO 24/7 maybe right, this losing streak may have been the best thing to happen to this team.

Posted by: chriscaps | January 9, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

TFS does not exist in my world. He is only an illusion.

Posted by: pebowers | January 9, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

He certainly praised the work of backline in the winter classic. Anyone with eyes could see they played well. I think BB is not as concerned with these regular season games as he is with the playoffs. I truly think he wants Erskine rested and ready for April, if I am wrong then I am wrong. I want 4 playing in the playoffs at his best, it would be foolish to not want this. If this means the most physical dman we have sits some nights in January then I am fine with it. If we drop a few regular season games so be it. Just a reminder, 4 played 6 of the 8 games during the winless streak. He sat one of the games we got a point during that streak. Not saying he caused us to lose, just saying having him in the lineup does not make for a sure W. Not sure what "stats" you are talking about but both DJK and Gordon have played 8 games, they are both -2 but Gordon has 2pts vs. 1 for DJK. It is a moot point since Boyd Gordon will go back in the lineup very soon.

Posted by: pebowers | January 9, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps:

4 games is statistically insignificant as a sample size. It shouldn't even be considered in this case. To use 2 games with and 2 games without Erskine as your selling point is incorrect.

I prefer Erskine over Poti at this point, because I believe Poti and his contract should be traded, but you absolutely cannot use the past four games as a meaningful comparison to two players in the lineup. Try forty for each and then you can develop a trend.

Posted by: safoster | January 9, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Another way to look at it is that Poti needs some time on the ice to get back to normal to prepare himself for the playoffs(him and Carlson were, by far, the Caps best defenseman last year in the playoffs).

Having 7 D-men ready for the playoffs is better than having 6 ready, and a guy who hasn't played in 5 months.

The Caps did not, and should not, sit Hannan/Green or Alzner/Carlson. They are the best two D-pairing the Caps have and the Hannan/Green pair are still getting used to each other so the more playing time the better. While the Alzner/Carlson pair is young and gaining experience by playing against the opposing teams top line. It is this learning experience that will make them better and more prepared for the playoffs.

That leaves Erskine/Schulz/Poti as the options. The first concern is paring Erskine with Schulz because they are both slow. BB may not want to do that, and for good reason. So that would then make the decision between Schulz and Erskine. That is tough because Erskine has played well this year, but so has Schulz and Schulz played great last year (+50).

In addition, Poti was coming off a long term injury and needed to get some playing time to try to right himself. Schulz missed about a month and just got back so he his starting to find his game again. Erskine hasn't missed a game all year. That is great work by Erskine and shows his durability which is needed for the playoffs. But, it also means that a sitting out few games in January is not that big of a deal since he hasn't missed any yet.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 9, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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