Eric Fehr, Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich celebrate goal

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Not all goals are created equal. A team scoring first has almost twice the win percentage of a team that trails first, while scoring an empty net goal almost always means the game was out of reach. But what about all the goals scored in between? Of all those goals that a player scores, how many contribute to victories and how vitally do they contribute?

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PLAYOFFS! Caps Top Flyers, 5-4! (SO)

Semin wins it

#GoodSasha (Photo credit: Paul Bereswill)

Awwwww! Photo credit: Matt Slocum

Awwwww! Photo credit: Matt Slocum

The Washington Capitals are in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, don’t start panicking. The Caps of this year are different. They play postseason-style defensive hockey. (Well, let’s just forget about the D tonight.) Washington has their swagger back too. They’re just one point off the top spot in the East and are firing on all cylinders as April awaits.

Nicklas Backstrom opened the scoring at 7:52 after his wrist shot from between the circles snuck under Flyer goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder. Weak goal. Then with under three minutes left in the first period, ol’ man Mike Knuble chipped in Marcus Johansson’s pass from behind the net to push the Caps lead to multiple goals. Spongebob never saw it. Weak goal.

Under 1:30 into the second stanza, Dennis Wideman fired a shot from the point the found twine after Bobrovsky failed to react in time. Weak goal. New ‘keeper. At 8:05 Kris Versteeg got himself an easter egg. Number 10 in orange and black racked up his 19th of the year after his off-target pass hit Wideman’s skate. With just over 30 seconds left in the frame Claude Giroux inched Philadelphia ever closer, one-timing Andreas Nodl’s perfect pass past Neuvirth. The Czech netminder never even moved on the shot after biting on Nodl’s excellent fake. The Flyers would then tie the game 10:02 in the third period when the Capitals got Jeff Schultz’d. Mr. Nasty’s outlet pass was deflected by Giroux and Nodl slapped it home. Daniel Briere would then score the Flyers’ fourth unanswered tally, saavily tipping a a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point home. 4-3, Fly Guys. Panic!!!1 Luckily for you guys, Swedes are good at hockey. Johansson would tie the game up on a perfect shot from the point with 3:19 left. What does that mean? Overtime.

In the extra period, there would be chances a plenty, but neither team would convert. You know what lies next: The Gimmick.

Ville Leino: goal. Matt Hendricks: fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, leg lift, fake, fake, fake, backhand and GOAL! Giroux: miss. Backstrom: GOAL! Briere: Goal. Up next, The Enigma. GOAL WSH #28 SEMIN, Backhand, Off. Zone, 7 ft. Playoffs, here we come! Caps top Flyers, 5-4 (SO)

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Johansson Scores

A game-altering fight? Matt Bradley fights Paul Mara immediately after Travis Moen's fluky goal. (Photo credit: Richard Wolowic)

A game-changing fight? Matt Bradley fights Paul Mara immediately after Travis Moen's fluky goal. (Photo credit: Richard Wolowic)

#Winning (Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz)

Returning to the Bell Center for the first time since the ill-fated 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals got a little bit of revenge Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to nine games in the process.

The game got off to a positively wild start with two goals and a fight in the first 1:48 of play. After Tomas Plekanec was called for a hooking penalty the Caps headed to an early power play. With a  lot help from the end boards, Marcus Johansson put the Caps up 1-nil as the dump-in from Dennis Wideman bounced right in front to the waiting Swede. Just 26 seconds later, however, Travis Moen tied things up on another odd play behind the net. Washington netminder Braden Holtby attempted to rim the puck along the boards but instead passed it right to Moen in the corner who fired the biscuit into the wide open net. Just over 20 seconds later the action continued with Matt Bradley and Paul Mara dropping the gloves right off the face-off in a bout that ended in a draw. At 13:23, Brooks Laich put the Caps on top 2-1 after picking up the perfect outlet pass from Karl Alzner, who was on the ice for nine more scoring chances and just one against. Whew. Another calm night in Montreal, I see.

Andrei Kostitsyn continued the back-and-forth play 3:28 into the second period, firing a wicked wrist-shot pass Holtby’s catching glove. Washington put forth a fury of shots in the remainder of the frame, racking up 19 for the period. It would be to no avail, however, and the teams would head to the third knotted up.

Johansson would strike once again at 6:43 in the final period, putting home a perfect backhand pass from Alex Ovechkin to give the Caps the lead. Just over ten minutes later, Mike Knuble would seal the deal converting on a two-on-one with Marco Sturm after Sturm delivered a perfect pass to the veteran winger. Take that, Frenchies. Caps top Habs, 4-2.

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Caps Wear Green to Honor St. Patrick’s Day

Green Jerseys (8 of 15)

For the second time in ten days, the Washington Capitals took the ice for pre-game warm-ups in some unusual duds. The occasion for Sunday’s sweaters? St. Patrick’s Day.  However, the holiday isn’t until March 17, falling three full days after the Caps wore these uni’s. On top of that, Washington, D.C. isn’t exactly known for its Irish heritage. Nevertheless, the jersey were auctioned off during the game with a portion of the funds going to charity. Take a look at the rest of my photographs of these rather, um, interesting jerseys after the jump.
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Alex Semin OTGWG

Hendy tells Sasha what we can only assume is “I freakin’ love you” after Semin scores the OTGWG.

Marcus Johansson writhes in pain after blocking a shot on the PK. (Photo credit: Joel Auerbach)

Marcus Johansson writhes in pain after blocking a shot on the PK. (Photos by: Joel Auerbach)

Entering tonight’s game with the Florida Panthers, the Capitals only trailed the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning by one standings point for the Southeast Division lead. Karl Alzner told CSN before the game, “It’s nice to have that battle going on at the end of the season. In the end, I think it’s going to help us gear up for that playoff push.” After several years of dominating the division, coasting into the playoffs, and then losing in the early rounds, Alzner’s words are certainly reassuring from a fan’s perspective. Could this division battle down the stretch be everything that the Capitals need?

One thing that still needs to be corrected by the Capitals, however, if they have dreams of playing in June is their poor play in the first period. While they’ve noticeably ramped up their intensity in the game’s opening minutes, they still have had problems scoring the game’s first goal. Tonight, was no different.

Florida got off to an early 1-0 lead after taking advantage of a Dennis Wideman turnover in the offensive zone. After several attempts to get the puck deep and failing, Bill Thomas took the puck from Wideman, passed the puck up to teammate Michal Repik, and the two raced in alone on John Erskine and Michal Neuvirth. Erskine, who failed to take away the pass on the two-on-one, watched helplessly as Repik hit Thomas in stride and deposited the puck into the back of the net. The Capitals however, quickly responded a minute and 13 seconds later. After some powerful forechecking by Alex Ovechkin in the corners, Ovi found Nicklas Backstrom unguarded in the middle of the circles. Backstrom’s one-timer eluded Scott Clemmensen and the game was tied.

Scoring would not pick up until midway through the second period. At 10:02, John Carlson unleashed a slap shot that Clemmensen could not corral. The puck squirted out to Boyd Gordon in the slot, who suavely backhanded home his second goal of the year.

Things would then get dicey in the final minutes of the third period, as the Capitals would not be able to hold onto their one goal lead. After Erskine and Wideman took penalties, David Booth forced overtime by scoring in front of the net on the proceeding five-on-three powerplay. But that’s okay. Alex Semin is a stone cold pimp and ended it in overtime 28 48 seconds in. Caps top Cats, 3-2.

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Scott Hannan

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals went from a penalty kill that was 78.8% successful to one with a 85.5% success rate in just one season. How are they doing it?

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Semin Dishes, Arnott Scores: Caps Edge Blues 3-2

Ovechkin celebrates win

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

The new-look Washington Capitals are certainly getting things done. And for the second time in as many games trade deadline pick-up Jason Arnott was the key to the Caps victory.

“They are great guys, experienced guys,” said Nicklas Backstrom, referring to the new acquisitions. “They have been in this league for a long time. They are great players too. I think that is what we need on this team. And hopefully we can just get as much advice and get together as a group before the playoff.”

The Capitals controlled the play early on, outshooting St. Louis five-to-one at the eight minute mark of the contest. However, it was the Blues who struck first as Alexander Steen converted on a three-on-two odd man rush at 11:25. Late in the first period, the teams began to ramp-up the physical play as Matt Bradley and Tyson Strachan dropped the gloves. Bradley ended the bout with a bang as he delivered three straight right hooks to Strachan’s noggin, sending him down to ice.

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George McPhee brought in two veterans, Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman into the fold today

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that the Jake Hauswirth era is over. Hauswirth was packaged along with Washington’s 3rd round selection in the 2011 draft for defenseman Dennis Wideman. The 3rd round pick is minor, since a player drafted in that round plays an average of 71 NHL games — total for their career — while they amass an eye popping 24 points. But the Caps lost Hauswirth, so a moment of silence.

Now let’s focus on picking up the pieces, and see what goodies George McPhee got Caps fans.

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Caps Rally In Uniondale, Beat Islanders, 3-2

Alex Semin scores the Game Winning Goal against the Islanders and celebrates with Backstrom and Ovechkin

Photo credit: Mike Stobe

Matt Hendricks proves once again why DJ King's unneeded on this team. (Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek)

Hendy tried to spark the team, but instead he got his face Kanopka'd. (Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek)

With the Washington Capitals in danger of losing a second game in two nights, their flabbergasted head coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout and made some adjustments.

He scrapped his floundering top line and put together his dream team trio in a desperation last resort to try and spark a squad that inexplicably could not create scoring chances.

It worked.

With Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin playing together, the Capitals rallied from two goals down to beat the rapidly improving New York Islanders, 3-2, Saturday night for a pivotal road win just two days before the trade deadline.

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A Solid Sixty Minutes of Hockey: Caps Spear Sabres, 2-1

Ovechkin-Perreault

“Perry, we did it! We actually score on power play!” (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)

After going 1-4 in their last five games — all against Western Conference foes — the Caps headed back to the friendly confines of the east coast on Sunday, hoping to right the ship versus Buffalo. Facing a hungry Sabres team in a nationally televised matchup, Washington was certainly up to the task.

The first period may have been scoreless but it certainly wasn’t uneventful. The Capitals managed 16 shots but Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was fantastic, making big saves throughout the frame. Washington also had four power play chances in the period, including over a minute and a half on the two man advantage. However, the Caps PP continued their struggles, failing to convert as Miller remained strong.

Mathieu Perreault would finally break Miller’s streak in the second stanza. After an odd bounce in the corner, the puck kicked out to the front of the net. Perreault took advantage, putting the Caps up 1-0. However, after Brooks Laich was called for goalie interference, the Sabres would head to the power play. At 8:20 Jason Pominville converted on the man advantage, getting the puck past a screened Semyon Varlamov to knot the score at one.

Midway through the third, former Cap Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for interference, once again putting Washington on the power play. But this time, it actually worked. Alex Ovechkin skated the puck into zone before firing a shot on Miller who made the stop. However, the biscuit went to waiting Perreault. With a little help from Marcus Johansson — whose deflection awarded him the marker — Perreault put the puck in the back of net, giving the Capitals the lead. Buffalo attempted a rally but Varlamov stayed strong. Caps beat Sabres, 2-1.

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