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Green Gets to 30 Goals

So how did Coach Bruce Boudreau describe tonight's 5-3 win over the last-place New York Islanders?

"Bad. Okay. Good. Bad. Good," he said. "We were horrid in the first 35 minutes, first 25 minutes, we weren't very good. It all comes down to emotion ... and we didn't match theirs until we got physically involved and got everyone involved in the game."

The physical involvement Boudreau was referring to happened early in the second period. First John Erskine got into a fight. Then Jeff Schultz -- yes, that Jeff Schultz -- squared off with rugged Islanders winger Tim Jackman. It wasn't much of a "fight," but it fired up the Caps, who scored five of the next six goals to beat a team they should have had a much easier time with.

On to the notes:

Green Nets No. 30
As you've read by now, Mike Green had two goals and an assist to become the first NHL defenseman in 16 years to score 30 or more goals in a season. Green said he was spurred on by a phone call he received before the game from a childhood friend. Kyle Lieske's fantasy hockey team was struggling, and he needed a favor from Green, who was happy to oblige.

"I promised my buddy back home that I'd get them tonight," Green said with a grin. "So I got to give it up to Kyle Lieske, a good buddy of mine. I promised him, so those ones are for him."

Green, who missed 14 games with injury and illness, is the eighth defenseman to reach the 30-goal plateau, joining Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque, Kevin Hatcher, Dennis Potvin, Doug Wilson and Phil Housley. With two power play goals, he now has 18, a new franchise record. Scott Stevens held the previous mark of 16.

Postseason Possibilities
The Caps need one only point to clinch the Southeast Division for the second straight year. That could come tomorrow night if 'Canes lose to the Rangers. The Caps also grew their lead to three points over the skidding Devils (0-5-1 in their last six) for second place in the East. If the season ended today, it would be Caps-Rangers in the first round.

With 101 points, the Caps also eclipsed the 100-point plateau for the fourth time in team history. With six more points, they'll equal the franchise record of 107, set in 1985-86.

Schultz's Scrap
Schultz has now been in two fights as a professional, once in Hershey and tonight against Jackman, who pulled off Schultz's helmet and was throwing punches before Schultz realized he was being engaged.

"My plan wasn't to fight there," Schultz said. "I was just sticking up for Mike. It led to whatever happened and I think the guys got excited because it was me and I'm one of those guys you wouldn't expect that from."

Schultz said he has a couple of goose eggs on the top of his head from Jackman's fists.

Can I ask a question? How come Jackman didn't receive an instigator penalty for that? Seems to me that's the very definition of the rule.

New Hat for Aucoin
Keith Aucoin was sporting the red hard hat after the game. He scored his first goal as a Capital and won 78 percent of his faceoffs (seven of nine).

"He has been really good," Boudreau said. "He's a spark plug. You guys see it out there, he works very hard. He wants to stay in the NHL and he's making a good account of himself."

Ovechkin Nets Another Record
Okay, so this one didn't get the "hot stick" treatment. But it's still a pretty cool number: Ovechkin's goal was his 33rd at home this season, breaking the record he set last year. He also has eight more goals than anyone else at home. And he had finished with six goals in four games against the Islanders this season.

Okposo Stars For Isles
These are dark days for the Islanders, a team I covered for the New York Times many years ago. But they've got something special in winger Kyle Okposo, a 2006 first-rounder who had a goal and an assist. He was all over the place tonight.

The 20-year-old also got busted on the jumbotron laughing at the "Funny Follies" video bloopers.

Odds and Ends
Jose Theodore recorded the third 30-win season. Nicklas Backstrom tied the team's season high for faceoff wins in a game with 16 (of 24).

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2009; 12:05 AM ET
 
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Next: Morning Reading List: Green's Night

Comments

Why Jackman didn't get an instigator is only one question. How did Comeau not get at least a roughing. The teams were engaged in a scrap behind the Islanders net and he was the only player to drop both of his gloves.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | April 2, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

There's certainly enough rough guys on the Isles, including Rechlicz, the reckless man, who got a boatload of penalties, including 1 fighting and 2 minors.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 2, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Instigator? That may be one of the mysteries that will never be answered, like how the play that led to the Isles' third goal wasn't whistled offsides crossing into the zone. Kelly Sutherland, good for minimum two mysteries a game.

Way too much cutesy crap in the first. Once the cutesy crap stopped, we stepped on them pretty good.

Flash had some great chances , and a couple of bonehead moves. Same for Semin.

Schultz fighting. Never thought I'd see the day. Well, good on him for doing it, although some time spent with the Brash would benefit him.

I'd like to see Aucoin stay up and challenge some guys for their lineup spots.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 2, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Calling what Schultz did fighting is awfully generous. He just kind of stood there and got pounded on.

Posted by: spacecadetkid | April 2, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

spacecadetkid, Brash said he didn't think he'd be any good at fighting, so Schultz has been training with Brads.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 2, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Why Jackman didn't get an instigator is only one question. How did Comeau not get at least a roughing. The teams were engaged in a scrap behind the Islanders net and he was the only player to drop both of his gloves.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | April 2, 2009 12:14 AM

Yet another great example of why the arbitrary instigator rule needs to be abolished.

ENFORCE IT OR SCRAP IT NHL!

Posted by: richmondphil | April 2, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

On Schultz fighting -- if the astrologers are right, Pisces people are not generally prone to fighting. (This note applies to Semin as well.) However, in the immortal words of my first born child, "I don't start fights. I finish them".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 2, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

there were a few weird noncalls and the Jackman one was at the top. The officiating is just a mess in this league.
I'm glad they won and saw a lot of good stuff from a few guys, most guys actually. Aucoin was awesome. Greens goals were nice, congrats, the give away at the blueline was aweful and in the post, it's in the net.
Erskine, way to go. Flash looked pretty good, and Pothier looks as good as any other dman, given the time out.
Nylander just can't keep up.

Posted by: oo7 | April 2, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

^haha give the boy some credit, i think i did see him throw a punch or two.. maybe.

Posted by: jogabonito | April 2, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Nothing like selective enforcement of the "instigator" rule. And speaking of ridiculous rules, how about the game misconduct penalty assigned to "failure to fasten hockey straps" and having one's shirt come off, a rule that applied to Marion Hossa and our own Alexander Semin.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 2, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

thats the only halfway good thing schultz has done all season.And way to go aucoin,he deserved that one.lets go caps!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | April 2, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

yeah caravelli, why are we listening to what Wynn thinks of his first hockey game? They're the ones that gave him the tickets! Do they think we're stupid? it's a setup. it's like the place is run by pinky and the brain. "know what our hockey coverage needs? More football."
The only reason Comcast is riding the caps this hard is because the wizards suck. They're fairweather media. I hate them and their cable service.

Posted by: oo7 | April 2, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

it could be argued that when that idiot on Tampa Bay skated 15 feet towards Bradley out of the blue on friday, dropped his gloves and started throwing punches before Bradley even knew what happened, he could have been given an instigator and a fighting, much like Rene Bourque was given earlier in the year.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | April 2, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

"The 20-year-old also got busted on the jumbotron laughing at the "Funny Follies" video bloopers."

Aww. shouldn't get busted for that. he's a kid. let him yuck it up and have fun. that team needs all the laughs they can get.

Posted by: Greg S. | April 2, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

IMO, the Caps shouldn't have to get a goalie interference call against an inferior opponent like the Islanders in order to get a go-ahead PP goal from Green to get the win. I don't know about you, but it seems the Caps have not been drawing alot of penalties from their opponents except Tampa lately and that's bothering me a little. We've got to be more aggressive come playoff time.

Posted by: gebster | April 2, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse

@gebster - the penalties are there to be called, but the refs sit on their whistles. For whatever reason, we don't get many of the calls that 18,000 fans can see haha

Posted by: SombreroGuy | April 2, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

We haven't been getting many PP chances of late, although most of the time I think they miss some obvious calls. Someone check did our PP go 2 for 2 tonight?

Also please stop talking about how "easy" our schedule is down the stretch. This is the same "bottom feeder" Isles that shut out Detroit 2-0 at the Joe a couple games back, pushed Philly to a shootout, and in general has been playing very good hockey of late. Same deal with Atlanta who we have coming up again soon here. These are teams that are playing ultra loose because they have nothing to lose and a lot of their young guys have fresh legs and are starting to shine.

I'm not sure how we can complain over 2 points however it comes at this time of year. Honestly I'm more thrilled that our PP can be THAT efficient given the lack of opportunities of late, which is much more like how the playoffs will be. You have to feel some of the cheap calls other teams have been getting off of us will not be called in the playoffs as well.

Congrats to Mike Green and another solid game from Aucoin. Backstrom had another strong game, and big hats off to Erskine for being a big presence for us tonight, not just the fight either. Quietly I thought Theodore played pretty well, it's hard to find much fault on any of their goals.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 2, 2009 1:54 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't say the officiating is a mess in the league - but I'd dare Tarik or someone to look back at all the Caps games this year that Kelly Sutherland has been involved in and see if there isn't something weird there.

Posted by: writered21 | April 2, 2009 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Bruce addressed it to some degree but I was alarmed at the nonchalant play of the team for a fair percentage of the game. This is becoming a disturbing trend and needs to stop immediately or the Caps are doomed come postseason time.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 2, 2009 3:21 AM | Report abuse

Schultz fighting. Never thought I'd see the day. Well, good on him for doing it, although some time spent with the Brash would benefit him.

I'd like to see Aucoin stay up and challenge some guys for their lineup spots.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 2, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Schultz didn't exactly have a "choice". Jackman just started whaling on him and Schultz held on for dear life. Technically the refs could have given Jackman the instigator there although nowadays when two players grab each other in a scrum and one player starts pushing for a fight the refs call it even. Not the way it used to be but o well.

Good to see Green get involved in this game, not just with his hit on Hilbert but besides his two goals he almost scored a 3rd where he went diving into the crease and then later he clobbered Jackman on the hit in the 3rd. No reason Greenie can't do more for this team besides just goals, he's got the tools. Caps as a whole are doing a better job of going to the net the last 2 games.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 2, 2009 3:23 AM | Report abuse

Bruce addressed it to some degree but I was alarmed at the nonchalant play of the team for a fair percentage of the game. This is becoming a disturbing trend and needs to stop immediately or the Caps are doomed come postseason time.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 2, 2009 3:21 AM | Report abuse

hey, quit beating the dead horse! :)

no doubt, caps frequently do this where they let up and then play hard to catch up. If this team played a 60 min game even 50% of the time we'd probably be in 1st.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 2, 2009 3:24 AM | Report abuse

thats the only halfway good thing schultz has done all season.And way to go aucoin,he deserved that one.lets go caps!!

Posted by: gratefuldid |

You're aware Schultz is +14, right? Fourth highest +/- on the team, I believe?

Posted by: jec4p | April 2, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

At least Schultz manned up and got involved in the game. That's more than the rest of the team did to that point. I am liking Erskine more and more, as well.

Posted by: ridgely1 | April 2, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

You're aware Schultz is +14, right? Fourth highest +/- on the team, I believe?

Posted by: jec4p |
yeah i'm aware,i'm aware that we got great scorers to make his stats look good.doesnt mean he's that good.i'm just saying that i think we got better dmen in our system that could fill his spot and do a better job.just my opinion.

Posted by: gratefuldid | April 2, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Slightly off topic:

Any reason why Brenden Witt is so happy on the Island? When the Caps were going through the rebuilding process, he couldn't wait to be traded to a team with playoff-Cup aspirations...he asked for a few years before we let him go. Now the Islanders are worse than the Caps ever were, and though his name was tossed around in rumors before the deadline, he claimed he wanted to stay in NY. Is the guy just mental, or is the Island just an awesome place to live?

Posted by: soloman5000 | April 2, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

On the play that led to the Schultz scrap, Green not only lead with his elbow/forearm, he left his feet to make the hit...it was a pretty disappointing play.

If he'd made contact with the other player's head, it's a play that gets guys like Pronger suspended. I could have seen Green getting 5 or more for intent to injure.

Jackman just backed his guy up and took on the first Cap next to him. I think the end result was more than fair for the Caps (net 2 minute penalty to Green).

Posted by: SuperG5 | April 2, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

"Can I ask a question? How come Jackman didn't receive an instigator penalty for that? Seems to me that's the very definition of the rule."

Ummm, probably because Green's hit was cheap and dirty. He left his feet and sent a flying elbow to the guy's head. That's instigating in and of itself. And I'm a Caps fan. Jackman did what he should've done.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | April 2, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

soloman5000:

Brendan Witt and "happy" are not words commonly used in the same sentence. He held out for more money even before turning pro with the Caps...and for what? He's nothing more than a solid defenseman at best and an average one most other times. He's where he belongs and we should all be happy for him.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | April 2, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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