Gordon Gets a Little Glory in Caps' Win
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Boyd Gordon doesn't play a glamorous role for the Washington Capitals. Most of his highlights come on the penalty kill or in the faceoff circle.
Which is what made his first NHL goal in three years all the more memorable. The defensive specialist also had an assist last night to help the Capitals bounce back from Thursday's decisive defeat in Raleigh, N.C., with a 3-1 victory over Jaromir Jagr and the New York Rangers at Verizon Center in front of 16,263.
Alex Ovechkin and Matt Pettinger also scored, and goaltender Olie Kolzig frustrated the visitors at the other end, stopping 41 shots, all but five of which came in the final 40 minutes. Henrik Lundqvist, meantime, had 25 saves for the Rangers.
Gordon's "role on this hockey team, and likely his place for a long time in the NHL, is winning faceoffs, killing penalties and being good defensively," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "If he went the whole year without scoring goals, I'm comfortable with that. So when these types of players get rewarded with goals, you are extremely happy for them."
Thanks in part to Gordon's early goal, the Capitals got the strong performance they so desperately needed following the 5-0 loss to the surging Carolina Hurricanes.
"Tonight was huge," Kolzig said. "To a man, we made a conscious effort to lay it on the line. The first period was one of the best periods we've played. We could have been up 4-0, but Lundqvist was unbelievable."
Working in the Capitals' favor was the fact that the Rangers were playing for the second consecutive night after winning 5-2 in Atlanta. And, like good teams do with regularity, the Capitals took advantage of New York's short turnaround, dominating the first period.
They outshot the road-weary Rangers 17-5, had 14 offensive-zone faceoffs and enjoyed eight minutes of power-play time in the first period.
"After Carolina, we think about first period, how must have good start," Ovechkin said. "And we do that."
It was one of the Capitals' finest periods in many statistical categories except one: They managed only a 1-0 lead despite numerous scoring chances. And that rarely bodes well against a team as powerful as the Rangers. But thanks to Kolzig's stellar play, it didn't much matter.
Gordon's goal was his first in 71 games, a stretch dating from 2003. The 23-year-old center picked off a pass by Rangers defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, stepped into the slot and fired. His first shot hit Lundqvist's pads, but his second found the back of the net at 11 minutes 59 seconds.
Asked if his scoring drought felt as long as it was, Gordon said: "Yeah, it did. Honestly, I just think I need one to get that feeling back. And hopefully tonight is a good steppingstone and I can start to roll a little bit."
Earlier in the period, enforcer Donald Brashear fought for the first time this season. He wasted little time dropping an overmatched Colton Orr.
The second period, however, followed a difference script. The Rangers outshot the Capitals 16-6. During one thrilling sequence, with the Rangers on the power play, Jagr hit the post, then Kolzig denied Matt Cullen from point-blank range moments later to preserve the Capitals' slim lead.
"The way he played, he was unbeatable tonight," Capitals veteran Dainius Zubrus said of Kolzig.
The Capitals continued to cling to that 1-0 lead until Ovechkin put them ahead 2-0 at 4:53 of the third period. On the rush, Ovechkin took a feed from Zubrus and beat Lundqvist between the pads.
Pettinger made it 3-0 at 10:54 and Michael Nylander spoiled Kolzig's shutout bid with a power-play goal with 1:51 remaining.
Capitals Notes: Defenseman Bryan Muir was a healthy scratch as Jamie Heward returned after missing Thursday's game with a lacerated left arm. Defenseman John Erskine, called up from Hershey (Pa.) this week, made his second consecutive appearance. . . . The team skated at its new practice facility, the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, for the first time yesterday morning before about 100 fans. A slap shot put a star-shaped crack in the glass behind one of the goals. Asked who did it, Ovechkin joked: "Not me. My shot is not that hard."