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Neuvirth settles in after uneven start

With Jose Theodore having played exceptionally well over the past handful of games, Michal Neuvirth was becoming almost a forgotten figure in the Washington Capitals' goaltending rotation.

But then Coach Bruce Boudreau decided to go with Neuvirth for Saturday's game against Phoenix, following the thinking that he wanted to keep his young backup engaged after deferring to Theodore for an extended stretch.

The decision paid off handsomely for the Capitals, who got 28 saves from Neuvirth in a 4-2 victory at Verizon Center.

"I thought he played really good," Boudreau said. "I thought he was a little nervous at the beginning of the game. He really smothered pucks in the third period and allowed our centermen to win a lot of faceoffs so we could get line changes and weren't caught out there too long. That was a real big factor."

After no ice time in the past four games, Neuvirth, 21, got his first win since stopping 38 of 39 shots on Jan. 9 in an 8-1 victory over Atlanta. He improved to 6-4-0 with Saturday's triumph.

Neuvirth gave up a goal to Lauri Korpikoski 13 minutes 29 seconds into the first period that tied the game at 1. He faced 10 shots in the opening 20 minutes.

"I wasn't really feeling very good before the game, and I didn't really expect to play because [Theodore] was playing really good now," said Neuvirth, who faced five Phoenix power plays and did not surrender a goal. "I was shaky at first, but I settled down and just played my game."

Neuvirth stopped 19 of 20 shots over the final two periods, including some close-in offerings that kept Washington in front. In the third period, Neuvirth turned away 14 of 15 shots.

Neuvirth has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of 12 starts this season and rebounded from a pair of forgettable games not that long ago. On Jan. 12 in a 7-4 loss to Tampa Bay, Neuvirth stopped just 11 of 15 shots in two periods before being pulled. A day later, he gave up four goals on 15 shots in Washington's 5-4 shootout victory over Florida.

Following those games, Neuvirth worked extensively on honing his game with Capitals goalie coach Arturs Irbe.

"I was really down after those two games," Neuvirth said. "I felt like my career was over, so Archie helped me a lot, and it's a big win. Big thanks to him."

By Gene Wang  |  January 23, 2010; 10:14 PM ET
 | Tags: Michal Neuvirth, Phoenix Coyotes  
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Next: Caps 4, Coyotes 2

Comments

Great start for Neuvy tonight. I'll be glad when Varly comes back, but I actually feel pretty good about our goalie situation. Terrific win tonight and a fantastic week overall for Caps fans!

Posted by: wocoliz | January 23, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Nice win for the Caps. Luckily they worked as hard as Phoenix overall. One thing they did right -- they drew a fair amount of penalties.

Nice game for Semin. 1 goal and 3 assists and +2 on the night. Closing in on 50 points. (The Semin bashers can just shut their traps. Overall, the Semin bashers are getting less vocal anyhow, both here and on Japers.)

The new kid proved his worth again.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Caps have won it every which way since Fla. This one, was how to win when you have an uneven game overall.

Semin and Ovi were on fire. Laich played well. Greenie & Sarge have had better games.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 23, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Got back from the game not too long ago....another great crowd tonight. Neuvy was excellent, and I was impressed how hard the boys played. I was worried there might be a letdown after the Pittsburgh game.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 23, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

@scropion (from previous thread)

Green is probably still ailing. He missed the Pittsburgh game with an injured hand.

I think the Semin bashers are silenced -- for now. I hope that Semin signs with us for 2011-1012 and beyond and gives us the "I want to play with Ovi discount". Of course, I hope we keep Flash and Fehr and Backstrom as well.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Nominate Irbe for goaltending coach of the year. If there is such a thing. Is there?

Posted by: lornemyoung | January 23, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Sharks have tied up Buffalo. Go Sharks. Joe Pavelski goal. May the secondary scorers carry the day for the Sharks so Ovi can catch up to their people in goals and points.

Cue: theme song to "Jaws".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Buffalo is outplaying and outshooting the Sharks big time. Many more shots on goal. The Sharks have been getting penalized a lot.

Still, the score is tied. The Sharks skated off a 5 on 3 situation.

Go Sharks. Knock out the Sabres.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Geez, Neuvy thinking his career is over at 21 a few months after he was the AHL Playoff MVP? Don't think so man. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | January 23, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

@UnleashTheCaps

Agree. It would be too soon for Neuvy to give up on his career.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps need any incentive for getting up for their next game against the Islanders, remember these 5 words: "Possible first round playoff opponent".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Got back from the game not too long ago. Great crowd, nice travel mugs.

Sarge and Green were lousy. Sarge fell on his a$$ a few times. Green gave away the puck a few times in his own end, and came dangerously close a few other times. Nice to win by a pair even with the top defensive pairing stinking up the joint.

Semin rocks!!!

Posted by: crooks_c | January 24, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

@crooks_c

Yes, Semin rocks.

I think the Green and Schultz pairing will be better when Green is 100%. Don't forget that Green was out with an injury against Pittsburgh. (Hand injury)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 24, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75

No doubt the hand hampered Green tonight. I am sure it prevented him from being able to weave his way through the opposition, which led to turnovers. Probably led to a few other miscues. It was a little painful to watch those two struggle so badly tonight.

How did you all think Alzner did? I saw a couple mistakes and thought that he might have missed a few shifts, but may be mistaken.

My favorite defensive play was when the lumberjack would not let one of the Coyotes leave the Caps' defensive zone to clear the offsides. The forward was pi$$ed and was fighting to get past Erskine who would give no ground.

Posted by: crooks_c | January 24, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

@crooks_c

Alzner and Sha Mo were both +1 today. ShaMo has looked great the past two games.

In spite of a couple of gaffes, the defense on the whole looked pretty good.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 24, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Pavelski rules. He helped get the Sharks get a 3-2 lead over Buffalo with his second goal.

The son of Pavel (Paul) rules. (I always was a Pavel fan.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 24, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Sharks up. 4-2. The best news of all is that the secondary scoring is doing the job, given Ovi, Semin; etc. a fighting chance to gain ground in the goals and points battles.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 24, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Sharks held on and beat Buffalo 5-2. Heatley was their only top liner who had a goal but Thornton did have an assist. Nada for Marleau. So our boys have gained some ground in the scoring race.

A little Shadenfreude here. I must admit I enjoy Buffalo struggling on the West Coast. Makes things a little more even between us and them. (Too bad the Isles couldn't take care of the Devils.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 24, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

This is the most mundane of questions. My 7 year old wants to know the Caps "goal song". I did not even know there was such a thing. Well, it is not Song2 by Blur as a lot of online searches gave me. The song being played at the Verizon Center is NOT that. Anyone know?? Thanks.

Glad to get the NHL calendar filler game behind with 2 pts tonight. No comments - I am sure everyone felt the same. Meaningless game!

Posted by: ithinker | January 24, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Neuvy said he thought his career was over at 21 after winning the Calder? Glad he has a veteran's perspective/example to observe -- from Theo's comments after the Detroit game

"It's pretty good, but I never try to get too high or too low on myself," said Theodore, who has won three straight starts after beginning nine of the previous 11 games on the bench. "Like I said before, when I wasn't playing, my confidence was pretty high because I was working hard, practicing hard. I've been in that type of situation before."

Posted by: miseaujeu | January 24, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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