Mike Green says he's 'fine now' after getting hit with puck in Caps' win against Pens
The Capitals played a complete 60-minute game for the second time in three nights and earned a 3-0 victory over arch nemesis Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon to climb to 68 points. Even without the presence of Penguins stars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (torn ACL and MCL) this contest had all the physical bite and snarl of the usual meetings between the two teams.
First, though, defenseman Mike Green told reporters afterward he was fine despite not returning to the contest after he was struck in the head by a Brooks Orpik slap shot. Green had several rows of stitches near his right ear, where the puck hit him late in the first period, and Coach Bruce Boudreau said the defensemen would be listed as day-to-day.
"It's just a cut," Green said. "Any time you get hit in the head you're a little bit woozy....It happened so quick, it was just ringing a little bit, but once it went away I was fine. I was just a little unbalanced when I came off the ice but I'm fine now."
Said Boudreau: "You're always concerned. There's a lot of stitches in the ear, he's day-to-day. He's got a little bit of a headache right now. You get hit in the head with the puck and you're gonna have a headache. We'll re-evaluate him tomorrow."
We'll have to see how much Green takes part in practice tomorrow but the fact that he spoke to reporters after the game is at least a positive sign, if a small one.
--With his tally against the Penguins, Brooks Laich scored goals in consecutive games for the first time this season since the first two games of the year back in October. His goal was one created by a strong forecheck and cycle by the entire line of Laich, Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle.
That the Capitals were so willing to stick to the plan of dumping the puck and generating offense off of winning battles along the boards and in the corners -- much like they did in Tampa on Friday -- for another game has the players regaining some of their confidence.
"I think we're starting to get our identity back," Laich said "We're a committed group right now. The coaching staff lays out a great game plan for us, makes it easy to play... It was a challenge for us [to get back on track]. Even after this, the next 10 games aren't easy. The next two or three weeks can really sway our season."
Said Matt Hendricks: "I think with winning comes confidence, and I think we've lacked that the last maybe even a month -- more than that, actually. Where [reporters] keep asking us about not scoring goals and things like that and when we're scoring, we're winning games and players get their confidence and we start to feel that confidence as a group."
--With his primary assist on Laich's goal, John Erskine recorded his 10th point of the season -- a new career high in points for the Caps defenseman.
--Semyon Varlamov was sick, so the Capitals started Michal Neuvirth for the first time since Jan. 18, which was the night he was unable to finish the game in Philadelphia. Neuvirth wasn't tested too much early, but as the Penguins pressed he had a few key stops that prevented Pittsburgh from getting back into the game and finished with 22 saves for the second shutout of his NHL career.
Colleague Tracee Hamilton has more on Neuvirth in her column for Monday's paper.
--Marcus Johansson's pretty backhand tally in the second period made him the first rookie to score a shorthanded goal for the Capitals since Alex Ovechkin did so in 2005-06. It's been a bit of an up-and-down year for Johansson, as is to be expected for a rookie center playing his first season in North America, but he had one of his better games against the Penguins Sunday.
"We see flashes of this every few games and when he's on, he's really good," Boudreau said. "He was on tonight and he provided the spark for that whole line."
--With the Capitals down to five defensemen for the final two periods after Green was hit by the puck, John Carlson recorded a career-high 27 minutes 46 seconds of ice time. He ranks second in the league among rookies in ice time per game.
--If somehow you managed to miss Matt Cooke's knee-on-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin and Boudreau's unfiltered reaction to it, check out my earlier post with comments from Boudreau, Cooke and Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma.
| February 6, 2011; 5:56 PM ET
Categories: Mike Green, Pittsburgh Penguins
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