Pothier's Shot At Redemption Is a Winner

Washington's Brian Pothier celebrates his game-winning, third-period goal in Tampa Bay during the Capitals' 3-2 victory, a win which helps the team forget a late collapse against Buffalo at home on Friday night.
Washington's Brian Pothier celebrates his game-winning, third-period goal in Tampa Bay during the Capitals' 3-2 victory, a win which helps the team forget a late collapse against Buffalo at home on Friday night. (Chris O'Meara - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 16, 2007

TAMPA, Dec. 15 -- Earlier this month, Brian Pothier was, by his own admission, struggling. It got so bad for the Washington Capitals' defenseman that Coach Bruce Boudreau scratched him from the lineup twice.

He redeemed himself Saturday night at St. Pete Times Forum.

Pothier scored a power-play goal early in the third period and the Capitals held on for a 3-2 victory over Vincent Lecavalier and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Pothier's goal and assist, coupled with a resilient performance by Brent Johnson in net as well as a goal and assist from Tomas Fleischmann, helped the Capitals secure their fourth win in five games and boost Boudreau's record to 7-4-1. It also snapped a four-game losing streak in Tampa.

"It was nice," Pothier said. "I had been struggling for 10 games or so. I ended up costing the team in New Jersey. I got scratched and came back and slowly gained my confidence back and start playing better tonight."

The win also helped the Capitals rebound from a poor performance against Buffalo at home on Friday. The Sabres won that game, 5-3, and afterward Boudreau questioned their level of effort.

He had no such qualms Saturday.

"It was important to show that we could bounce back," Boudreau said. "It was a team win. On a night where [Alex Ovechkin] said to me coming off the ice, 'It wasn't my night,' you know on a night like that, when everybody else can step up, that's an indicator of becoming a good team."

The Capitals also received some help at key times from the special teams units. The penalty kill, led by forwards Matt Pettinger, Quintin Laing and David Steckel, snuffed out all four of the Lightning's power-play opportunities. The unit has not allowed a score in four games.

"Our power play stinks, theirs scores a goal," Tampa Bay Lightning Coach John Tortorella said.

Pettinger and Steckel also contributed offensively. Pettinger set up Pothier's goal by circling the net before dishing the defenseman the puck. Steckel got his second goal of the season eight seconds into the second period.

Johnson, making his first start since defeating the Panthers in Florida on Dec. 1, yielded a goal on Tampa Bay's third shot and another he later said he should have stopped. But the seldom-used netminder turned aside all seven shots he faced in the third to hang on for his second straight win. He finished with 23 saves.


CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company