Mike Green becomes the first NHL defenseman to record 30 goals in a season since Kevin Hatcher did it for the Caps in the 92-93 season (34). Green is the 8th defenseman in history to reach the 30-goal plateau joining the company of Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Doug Wilson, Denis Potvin, Ray Bourque, Phil Housley, and Hatcher. He also set the Capitals record for most powerplay goals in a season by a defenseman with 18.
Praise the hockey gods for Greener’s performance last night because the Caps got off to a pretty horrific start. The Isles struck early with a powerplay goal from their leading scorer Kyle Okposo. Then Frans Nielsen redirected the puck off his leg just :37 seconds into the 2nd stanza. The Caps were in a hole but continued to push.
It was obvious the Caps were playing down to the Isles level until John Erskine came to save the day. He threw down the mitts with Joel Rechlicz to get his team focused and back into the game. Then Green started a little scrum after a dirty hit, and Jeff Schultz even got charged with a fighting major despite throwing any punches.
Two minutes later Alex Ovechkin recorded his 54th goal of the season after receiving a beautiful pass from Sergei Fedorov from behind the net. Soon after Keith Aucoin scored his first goal as a Washington Capital to tie the game at two.
Then the 3rd period started, and wouldn’t you know the Caps got scored on early in the period. After a bad defensive zone turnover, Richard Park cruised in for a breakaway and lifted a backhander over Jose Theodore. The Caps didn’t see a powerplay opporunity until 7 minutes into the 3rd period. Then began the Mike Green show.
The Caps ended up going 2-3 on the powerplay with both tallies coming from Green. The first goal was perfectly set up on the PP and Alex Semin gave Green a nice backdoor feed to tie the game at three. The second goal was all Green. He got the puck in the top corner of the offensive zone. After standing their for a good 3-4 seconds (that’s a long time in hockey time) he looked for a pass but couldn’t find it. He looked at the net and flicked the puck towards Joey MacDonald (who saw 43 shots from the Caps). The puck glanced off the post and in to give the Caps the lead 4-3.
Nicklas Backstrom gave the Caps some insurance with an empty net goal. At this time of the year it’s all about finding ways to win. It doesn’t matter if the Caps are playing the Bruins or the Isles it’s going to be a tough game. With good goaltending–and I highlight good only because it’s not great but it’s enough for the W–and stellar performances from the top players on the team; the Caps are almost unbeatable.
* Mike Green *
** Joey MacDonald **
*** Nicklas Backstrom ***