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Posted at 11:02 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Capitals beat Devils 5-1, lose Matt Bradley for 2-4 weeks

By Katie Carrera

With news after the game that Matt Bradley will miss the next two to four weeks with a broken finger, it sets an even bigger stage for two call-ups from the Hershey Bears who had strong showings Tuesday night against the Devils. Andrew Gordon potted his first NHL goal and Jay Beagle tallied his second to help boost the Capitals to their 5-1 win over New Jersey for their second straight victory.

It was a night to be relished by both Caps and Hershey Bears' fans as three of the five goal scorers and winning netminder were part of the 2010 Calder Cup winning team. They were joined on the scoreboard by Jason Chimera and Mike Knuble as Washington's secondary scorers pushed themselves to the forefront at Verizon Center.

"You count on your star players but at the same time it's your role players that complete the victory," Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

The win tonight allowed the Capitals (44 points) to reclaim the top spot in the Southeast Division as well, in what may be something of a back-and-forth here for a bit with the Atlanta Thrashers, who lost to St. Louis. It's the fourth day in a row that the division lead has changed hands.

Also of note is that Washington reached 20 wins in 36 games, or just four contests shy of the pace the Capitals had in the 2009-10 season when they finished with a team-record 54 wins.

-- In two consecutive games now, we've watched players recalled from the Hershey Bears drive to the net and get rewarded. Against Ottawa it was Mathieu Perreault and against the Devils, it was Gordon and then Beagle.

For his first NHL goal, Gordon beat Patrik Elias back to the top of the Devils' crease as Marcus Johansson put on a show with his speed to claim a loose puck on the left-wing boards, where he sent a perfect tape-to-tape pass toward his teammate. Gordon was so appreciative of the pass that he gave Johansson a kiss on the cheek while on the bench. I'll have more on Gordon's first NHL goal tomorrow morning.

Beagle had been camped out in front of Martin Brodeur on nearly every shift and in the second period he cashed in. After Bradley was crunched on the right-side boards when pushed the puck deep into the New Jersey zone -- he did not return after that shift -- David Steckel took it below the goal line and sent it to the front of the net just as he began to pass behind the cage. Beagle stuffed the shot past Brodeur to make it 2-1.

"We just kept saying, just keep the pressure on get down low and get a cycle going and get some energy for the team and keep working hard and good things are going to happen," Beagle said. "On the goal there, Brads makes a great play, takes a big hit, to get it deep and then Stecks makes a great pass. We had a lot of good chances and it was fun to play."

-- Jason Chimera's effort to finish on that breakaway despite having a defender draped across his shoulders made it 3-1 and counted as the left-wing's 200th career NHL point, after he went the past 14 contests without one.

-- John Carlson made it 4-1 when he followed up on a play that looked to be a scoring chance for Alex Ovechkin, until New Jersey defenseman Colin White poked the puck off his stick. Carlson led the Capitals with a plus-4 rating and played a second-most 23:42 (behind only Mike Green's 25:45).

"I was just about to turn to the bench and get a change and he poke checked him. I was like, 'Oh wow this looks good,' " said Carlson, who hadn't scored in the past 11 games. "I really got to step into it, so it felt pretty good to finally score. It's been a little while now."

-- Michal Neuvirth had strong night, finishing with 35 saves. He is 9-2-2 at Verizon Center this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.

-- This was Scott Hannan's 600th NHL game since the start of the 2002-03 season, which is the most played by any defenseman. Martin St. Louis (604 games played) and Andrew Brunette (603) are the only players with more games in that span.

By Katie Carrera  | December 21, 2010; 11:02 PM ET
Categories:  Andrew Gordon, Injuries, Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Marcus Johansson, Matt Bradley, Michal Neuvirth, New Jersey Devils  | Tags:  Hershey Bears, Matt Bradley, Washington Capitals  
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Next: More on Andrew Gordon's first NHL goal

Comments

slight correction: Beagle's goal put the Caps up 2-1. Chimera put them up 3-1

Posted by: j762 | December 22, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

slight correction: Beagle's goal put the Caps up 2-1. Chimera put them up 3-1

Posted by: j762 | December 22, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Am I the first post? Like I FKN care.

"Oh! First!" some people type. Maybe your mother cares. I don't. Make your mother convince me.

Now. Matt Bradley. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle as I have dubbed him. Can we survive? Well, that's up to Beags and AG. Let's see if they can pick up the slack. Meanwhile, Brads, wherefortartsthou?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 22, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal (repost)

think i typed a bad word in my last post, it got held for review. Anyways, you really must be Nostrathomas because how else would you know that "Kelly's Heroes" is one of my ALL TIME FAV movies? I think your on to something...

Unfortunately, I don't think I can change my thoughts and ways of expressing them. (I'm having a hard enough time as it is trying to avoid typing in caps) Seems like I've been moaning about the Caps my entire memorable life. And I like it. That which doesn't break us can only make us stronger, correct? So long as we win the cup in my lifetime, I'll be happy.

I was up here when the Sox beat The Curse, and I think we'll win the cup w/Ovi and crew. That said, I reserve the right to criticize the team as I deem fit :)

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 22, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Well. I am a bad, bad boy.

Let's go Caps 5-2 over Pens THU night.

Don't agree? FK em all.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 22, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Good game against a very slow, bad NHL team.
If we keep getting people hurt, DJK is going to have to play.
The bottom lines seem to get the defensive system. The top line seems clueless. We will see what happens when the Caps play the best team in the league on Thurs.
I still think we would be better off with another coach but, I guess we are stuck with the management team. I hope it works out.

Posted by: chriscaps | December 22, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Wow, so the Caps beat (squeaked by) the lowly Sens, and beat the lowly-er Devils... who would've thought that was possible?!?!

No but really, good game for all the Caps minus the overpaid, overrated "superstars" whose job is suppose to do the scoring. Yet again Backstrom, OVI, Semin, Laich and the rest of those pansy-crew can't even score a freakin goal against the bottom feeders of the league.

Real solid Cup contender here.

Good luck vs the Pens coming up. I'm sure the Caps may be lucky enough to make the game close, or even win the game, and then you will treat it like you've just won the Cup - OH WAIT... the Caps already won the Cup vs the Sens the other night so it'll be funny to see how the Caps and their fans "celebrate".

Posted by: BigGameSid | December 22, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse

I love how everyone is freaking out at Ovie, Semin, and Backstrom not scoring. Let's keep in mind how many top tier defensemen every team has and how many top tier and excellent role-playing goal scorers we have on our team and compare the simple math.

I also love how everyone is acting as if Ovie, Backstrom, and Semin are never going to score again. They all had pretty good nights. At some point it will go in. Chill out. It's December.

Posted by: gocaps99 | December 22, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

And BigGameSid, you are a standard Pittsburgh fan. Read from the "wow" to the "Report Abuse" at the very bottom of your post and you'll understand why.

Posted by: gocaps99 | December 22, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

BigGameSid, just tell me why Caps victory would be a lucky victory while Pens victory would be a victory of skill, grit and a true contender game? Why are these double standarts?
And how was Semin supposed to score if he didn't play? Oh, wait, of course, he is an injury prone, while Malkin's injuries are always result of his devotion and rudeness of oposing teams. Right.

Posted by: Bastinda | December 22, 2010 2:45 AM | Report abuse

ok, Semin did play, me wrong.

Posted by: Bastinda | December 22, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Pens fans, all mouth. You feel the need to post here because the Pittsburgh papers only have pictures in them and no place to post? Pens won nothing last year. Caps smoked 'em 4-0, and while both lost in playoffs, Caps outscored them and gave up less goals. Just bring it Thursday and we'll see. Ovie will find his stride soon and with the depth of this team and if they can keep the effort high like last night, good things will happen.

Posted by: loanphd | December 22, 2010 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Some thoughts from last night's game:
1. Poor Brads...at least he got an assist on that play.
2. Some fans were "whooping" Zubrus in the 3rd period. What the he** was that about? Is there some reason he should be treated like that--I sure can't remember it if there is.
3. The chatter about Ovechkin's skates bothering him would seem to be on the money. He looks a step off, all the time.
4. I know there is a lot of discussion on here about grit and toughness and people question whether the Caps have that. Fair enough. But they unquestionably have skill. So why did 90% of their passes miss the mark during the first 30 minutes. They seemed completely disjointed. I don't understand that. Is it the constant line juggling? I hope it is the flu and every one is just a bit off. It The Devils, who are struggling so much this year, still made a ton of tape-to-tape passes. Why on earth are the caps not doing that?
5. I know that Knuble scored last night, but man he looks slow. Does he deserve to be on the 1st or 2nd line?
6. Neuvy looked very solid.

Posted by: HeatherinMD | December 22, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

I am calling shenanigans on you for posting that Bradley turned down a fight when the game was out of reach and basically calling him a coward.

Bradley left the game, and never came back, at the time the Caps went up 2-1. That means he was never on the ice while the Caps were up by more than one goal.

We know you like Erskine, DJK, and fighting which is fine, but don't make up "facts" to disparage someone in an attempt to prove you are right. That just looks bad.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 22, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Some fans were "whooping" Zubrus in the 3rd period. What the he** was that about? Is there some reason he should be treated like that--I sure can't remember it if there is.

Posted by: HeatherinMD | December 22, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

I hated Zubrus when he was w/Flyers, and was disappointed when we signed him. He grew on me greatly playing w/us, and I came to really appreciate Zubrus' play...he always gave an honest effort and was a good Cap.

That's too bad he was jeered, I wouldn't mind Zubrus being on the team instead of Steckel or Gordon.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 22, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Not "making up" any facts, though I was mistaken w/the score at the time. (Not being a reporter, I don't take notes while I'm watching the game) It sure appeared to me, and as you know I'm attentive and look for it, that Bradley turned down an invitation by Clarkson right off a face-off sometime in the 2nd pd before he got hurt.

I watched Lucic turn down Erskine's attempt to fight in Boston late in the first, and the Caps built on that in the dressing room and it contributed to their better play in the 2nd and 3rd pds.

In a 1-1 game where we were being outshot by the worst team in the league, Bradley realized that, as a team we're too fragile right now and a beatdown at the hands of Clarkson could've been disastrous in it's impact on the game.

Hey, it happens and I love Bradley. I'll miss him and I'm sure if anyone can return earlier from such an injury, it's him.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 22, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

@HeatherinMD, you must be reading my mind.

#3 - I hadn't heard talk about Ovie's skates but have been wondering for a while why he looks so unsteady in them. Can't they fix that?

#4 - I also noticed the crisp passing by NJ and wondered why ours looks like such a cluster most of the time. We were better at it last night than we have been but we need to be that way all the time.

#6 - Neuvy is a beast!

Posted by: AmyS1 | December 22, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Perhaps the challenge was issued after Beagle's goal (can't remember if Bradley played another shift) in which case Bradley didn't oblige because of his hand. If that was the case, well, good move by Brads.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 22, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Good win last night. Hopefully our star players will step on Thursday vs. the Pens.

Posted by: SirPelleas | December 22, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Bradley has been of greater value in the last few games than the first line stars of this team that are getting paid a fortune to watch Gordon and Beagle score goals.

He will be missed.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | December 22, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

@BGS
"Wow, so the Caps beat (squeaked by) the lowly Sens, and beat the lowly-er Devils... who would've thought that was possible?!?!"

You mean the same lowly-er Devils that the Pens barely beat 2-1 on the 6th? And the same lowly Sens that the Pens squeaked by 2-1 a few games before that? It wasn't until superstar defenseman Alex Goligoski scored a PPG in the 3rd that the game was in hand.

Posted by: sabredc | December 22, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Sad but I agree with about 90% of what BigGameSid wrote. It's sad that our AHL call ups are playing better than our All Stars. Two wins against teams that are struggling is meaningless (besides gaining points). The team didn't break out of the slump, they ran into two teams playing worse than them...

Hopefully it's enough to boost their confidence and get players fired up. I still don't like what I'm seeing on the ice and still say BB has got to go.

Posted by: FLDave | December 22, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Another great game for Capt. America, Johnny C. I have to agree with Japers on this one, it is readily apparent that JC is our all-around, best defenseman.

I loved how he absolutely stoned Bergeron last time we played the B's, when Patrice tried to beat him one-on-one - better luck next time, dude! And quickly transitioned with a great pass up-ice.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | December 22, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

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