Brodeur Bedevils Depleted Capitals

Devils 4, Capitals 1

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 23, 2006; Page E01

Alex Ovechkin looked at the video screen above center ice as he skated dejectedly toward the Washington Capitals' bench, hoping to catch a glimpse of the diving glove save Martin Brodeur had just made.

Although it came in the final minutes of a lopsided loss, it also told the story last night: Ovechkin and the injury-riddled Capitals had ample scoring opportunities in their 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, but Brodeur, a future Hall of Famer, tormented them the way no other goaltender had this season.

Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur stops 35 of 36 shots to lead the Devils over the Capitals, 4-1. (Preston Keres - The Washington Post)

"He's the best goalie and he win the game," said Ovechkin, whose eight-game point streak was halted. "We play a good game, but sometime you can't score because the other goalie play very well."

Brodeur outdueled Capitals backup Brent Johnson, who yielded goals to Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta and Zach Parise. Chris Clark, meantime, scored for the Capitals, whose injury situation went from bad to worse.

In addition to being without Shaone Morrisonn, who was a late scratch with the flu, team officials revealed that defenseman Bryan Muir and John Erskine are out indefinitely, each suffering from a fractured foot.

Those latest injuries only added to the Capitals' woes. They already are without winger Matt Bradley (broken finger), who joined Richard Zednik (abdominal surgery) on injured reserve.

To fill in, Washington recalled minor league forward Alexandre Giroux and 20-year-old defenseman Jeff Schultz, a 2004 first-round draft pick. Schultz had a plus-minus rating of plus-one in 21 minutes 17 seconds of ice time in his NHL debut.

The Capitals likely will have to summon another defenseman before tonight's game in Toronto. Morrisonn did not make the trip.

"We had some chances early," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "The guys worked hard under some pretty tough circumstances. We didn't make any excuses, we just buckled down. We did everything but score."

Thanks to Brodeur. The 36 shots were the third most for the Capitals this season. Five of them came off the stick of Ovechkin.

"He's one of the best players in the league, so you definitely have to keep an eye on him, and as a team we did," said Brodeur, who is 10-1-1 in his last 12 starts against the Capitals. "He was getting a little frustrated once in a while after the first few shifts, trying to get away from some of our players."

Ovechkin was never more frustrated than with about three minutes remaining. Clark fired a shot that Brodeur stopped with his pad, sending the rebound out to Ovechkin. The powerful Russian fired it low toward the corner of an empty net, but Brodeur dived backward and snagged the puck with his catching glove.

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