No Lack of Power from Green

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2008

Mike Green and the Washington Capitals spent nearly an hour Saturday morning trying to fix the team's struggling power play.

One of Coach Bruce Boudreau's points of emphasis in that practice was the need to take more shots and make fewer passes.

Green got the message.

Twenty-three seconds into overtime yesterday, the 22-year-old blasted a shot off of New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal's stick and past goaltender Steve Valiquette to clinch the Capitals' 3-2 victory at Verizon Center and vault them back into the Southeast Division lead.

"I was thinking shoot because one of their guys was screening the goalie," said Green, whose tally was the Capitals' first on the power play in seven games. "That was the game plan. If we get it at the top, we shoot. Doesn't matter who was up there."

Green's goal, his league-leading 15th among defensemen, was his third overtime winner this season -- second at the expense of Jaromir Jagr and the Rangers -- and made him the first player in Capitals' history to notch three overtime winners in the same season.

Washington also got goals from Alex Ovechkin (two assists) and Boyd Gordon, as well as 31 saves from goaltender Olie Kolzig, who, in his 700th NHL game, moved into a tie with Ron Hextall for 23rd all-time on the career victory list with 296. Ovechkin's performance, meantime, extended his league lead in goals and points to 47 and 76, respectively.

"It wasn't our best game," Kolzig said. "But we continue not to lose two in a row, which has been our staple here since Bruce took over."

They've now gone 36 games without consecutive losses in regulation, the longest such streak in the league since Thanksgiving. Bouncing back yesterday, though, was more important than ever considering Friday's deflating 2-1 loss to Carolina, which temporarily bumped the Capitals from atop the division standings.

"The resiliency of this team is pretty amazing," said Boudreau, whose team has won its last six games that have gone to overtime or shootout. "They don't like to lose."

And they didn't, thanks to a handful of game-preserving saves by Kolzig and Green's clutch goal.

Ovechkin started the winning play with a pass through the neutral zone to Alexander Semin (two assists). Semin dropped the puck for Ovechkin, who zipped a pass to Green.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company