Theodore Makes 32 Saves as Capitals Beat the Devils

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2008

After a number of shaky starts, and the temporary loss of his job, Washington Capitals goalie José Theodore finally put together a performance that made people say, "Wow."

Facing the Martin Brodeur-less New Jersey Devils last night at a sold-out Verizon Center, Theodore was spectacular, stopping 32 shots to lift the Capitals to a 3-1 victory, their fifth in a row.

Although the Capitals were thrilled about Theodore's rebound -- it was his first win since Oct. 28 -- there was some concern afterward about Alexander Semin, who missed the third period with what's believed to be an upper body injury. It's not believed to be serious, though, and it's possible the NHL's leading scorer will suit up tonight when the teams meet again at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

"He'll be fine tomorrow, as far as I know," Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann and Alex Ovechkin provided the offense. But it was Theodore's performance at the other end that ultimately helped the Capitals improve to 7-0-1 at home this season, 13-0-1 dating from last season. Patrik Elias scored for the Devils, who dropped to 1-5 without Brodeur, the four-time Vezina Trophy winner who is recovering from arm surgery.

But not having Brodeur, a noted Capitals tormentor, wasn't the Devils' problem last night. Theodore was their problem.

He lost his job as Washington's No. 1 goalie to Brent Johnson this month after a 5-0 loss in Buffalo. But with Johnson nursing a hip injury suffered in Carolina on Wednesday, Theodore got another shot. And if last night was any indication, he has no intention of giving it up again.

"He's played some pretty good games, but he had to make more 10-bell type saves tonight than any other game," said Boudreau, who hinted that he plans to start him again tonight.

Theodore added: "Being able to play two periods last game [in relief of an injured Johnson] got the rust out of the legs. I knew I was going to be ready for tonight's game."

Theodore stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period, and was even better in the second. In addition to stopping Jamie Langenbrunner one-on-one from the high slot at point-blank range, Theodore made what, to this point, is the save of the season.

He was beat on a cross-crease pass from Brian Gionta to Zach Parise, the Devils' leading scorer and best player. But Theodore quickly recovered, diving back across the goal line to whack Parise's shot back out before it entered the net. The save preserved the Capitals' 1-0 lead with about five minutes to go in the second period.

"I was late, but you try to do something and was able to get a stick on it," he said. "That was a lucky break for me."

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