Wild 2, Capitals 1
Alex Ovechkin said his Washington Capitals needed to ”wake up”
after a sluggish effort.
Their arrival was just the jolt the Minnesota Wild needed.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 21 shots, and the Wild slowed down the
suddenly punchless Capitals in a 2-1 victory Thursday night.
Chuck Kobasew got his first goal of the season and Mikko Koivu
scored for Minnesota’s NHL-leading power play against Capitals
goalie Michal Neuvirth, who didn’t have much help a night after his
first career shutout.
”We came out early and played well to grab an early lead. More
importantly, we found a way to play with the lead late,” Kobasew
Ovechkin scored with 1:36 left, snapping a five-game scoreless
streak with a goal Backstrom didn’t see until it slid through his
legs, but the Capitals were held to a season-low 22 shots on goal
after posting at least 33 shots in each of the last five games.
”It was a really disappointing effort, I thought, from our team
for about 50 minutes,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Nicklas Backstrom’s shot with less than 6 seconds left was
snatched by the other Backstrom’s glove. The NHL’s highest-scoring
team last season, the Capitals have scored four goals or more only
twice in 10 games. They’re still 6-4, but their top line is missing
the spark that helped them to the league’s best record last season
before their stunning first-round ouster from the playoffs by
Ovechkin was shown on camera angrily whacking his stick against
the bench at one point. He downplayed his outburst afterward, but
expressed frustration after a fifth straight game without a
power-play goal by his team.
”We didn’t shoot the puck. We didn’t hit their guys. We didn’t
finish our shots,” he said.
His linemate Backstrom scored twice in Wednesday’s win over
Carolina and took almost every other shift down the stretch, but
Boudreau suggested they’ve been pressing. The Capitals hit their
share of pipes in this one, including Matt Hendricks in the third
The Capitals, playing the second night of a less-than-convenient
Carolina-Minnesota back-to-back set of road games, managed only
four shots on goal in the opening period – Boudreau said they
looked like they were playing in ”quicksand” – while the Wild
”I’m not buying any of this excuse about being fatigued,
emotionally or physically,” Boudreau said. ”So I’m just not very
happy with what happened.”
Kobasew, playing on Koivu’s first line with Antti Miettinen
scratched because he was sick, sneaked behind Capitals defenseman
John Carlson and popped a perfect cross-crease pass from Andrew
Brunette from the corner into the net.
Backstrom was on his game for the Wild during a power play for
the Capitals early in the second period, when he kicked out his
right leg to rob Mike Knuble’s shot from the faceoff dot.
Then midway through the middle frame, Backstrom stopped his
sort-of namesake by nimbly gloving a close-range shot by
Washington’s Backstrom. Late in the period, Minnesota’s Backstrom
caught a break when Jason Chimera’s shot clanked off the crossbar.
Chimera, who beat Martin Havlat for position, fell forward on his
rebound attempt and pushed both Backstrom and the puck into the
net. The goal, much to Chimera’s chagrin, was immediately waved off
because he was in the crease.
”To me it was a goal, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,”
The always soft-spoken Backstrom shrugged off his stellar
”For a goalie, a shot on net is a shot on net, so you’ve got to
find a way to stop it,” he said.
Wild coach Todd Richards was quite pleased, from the
near-shutdown of Ovechkin to the disciplined effort that resulted
in only two penalties taken.
”It was actually pretty easy to coach tonight as far as putting
guys on the ice. Guys were flying around,” he said.
NOTES: This was the first meeting between Washington’s
Backstrom, a Swede, and Minnesota’s Backstrom, a Finn. Backstrom
has scored one goal on the other Backstrom. … Linesman Mike Cvik
left his crew one man short for the first period because his
equipment didn’t arrive. Thor Nelson was brought in as a
replacement by the second period. … The Capitals fell to 0-5-1 at
Xcel Energy Center. … Wild LW Guillaume Latendresse and D Cam
Barker were scratched because of groin injuries. This was Barker’s
third straight game missed. … The Wild had only one power-play
goal in their previous 10 opportunities.