The Washington Capitals are not in much of a fight for the
Southeast Division lead, but they’re definitely not afraid to
defend each other.
With defenseman Mike Green expected back in the lineup after
getting helped off the ice in their last game, the Capitals
continue their four-game trip against the Vancouver Canucks on
Washington (21-7-6), which has won eight of 10 and owns the
largest division lead by far in the NHL, improved to 1-1-0 on its
trip with a 6-1 victory over Colorado on Tuesday. The Capitals led
5-0 late in the second period when Green was checked from behind by
Avalanche forward David Koci.
“I couldn’t see him, so it must have been from behind,” said
Green, who did not return after receiving several stitches over his
left eye. “He’s a big guy and he has to be more careful.”
While the Capitals and coach Bruce Boudreau are hoping the
league disciplines Koci for the hit, Capitals defenseman John
Erskine went after Koci and tried to deliver immediate
“You’ve got to stand up for your teammate,” said Erskine, who
picked up a fighting major and a misconduct.
Washington bounced back after squandering a two-goal
first-period lead in a 6-3 loss in Toronto on Saturday. Tomas
Fleischmann and Mike Knuble gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead after 20
minutes Tuesday before Washington scored three unanswered goals in
the second period.
“We knew if we didn’t keep playing like we did in the first
period, it might end up like last game,” said Fleischmann, who
scored twice against the Avs and recorded six goals and three
assists in his last seven games.
Nicklas Backstrom, who leads the Capitals with 28 assists and 39
points, plays his first game at GM Place since being selected
fourth overall there in the 2006 draft.
“It was great moment,” Backstrom said. “(Alex Ovechkin) Ovie was
calling my name on the stage.”
Ovechkin, the reigning two-time MVP, has two goals and two
assists in three career games against Vancouver (19-15-10). He did
not record a point in the last meeting, a 5-1 Capitals home win
Oct. 13, 2008, that was the Canucks’ first loss in six games to
Despite two assists from Sami Salo and Henrik Sedin’s
team-leading 15th goal, Vancouver had its three-game winning streak
snapped in a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday. The Canucks managed
two shots on goal in the first period, but Roberto Luongo made 13
of his 31 saves in the opening 20 minutes as the period ended in a
“We totally got outplayed,” said coach Alain Vigneault, whose
team is 3-1-0 on an eight-game homestand. “We were very fortunate
that our goaltender brought his ‘A’ game. He kept us in.”
Luongo, expected to start Friday, won 10 straight starts versus
the Capitals prior to the Oct. 13 loss.
Jose Theodore, 4-1-0 with a 2.19 GAA in his last five games,
will likely get the start in net for Washington. He went 5-0-0 with
a 1.98 GAA in his last five games against Vancouver.
Sedin and identical twin brother Daniel each have a nine-game
point streak going. Henrik Sedin has a goal and 14 assists during
that stretch while Daniel has six goals and seven assists.
Ovechkin recorded a goal and an assist in the Capitals’ last
visit to Vancouver – a 3-2 shootout loss Oct. 27, 2006.