Defenseman Mike Green Makes NHL History in Washington Capitals' 5-1 Victory Over Tampa Bay Lightning

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 15, 2009

TAMPA, Feb. 14 -- Mike Green's eyes were red and burning from the shaving-cream pie Alex Ovechkin had just smeared in his face.

But no amount of discomfort could wipe away Green's smile on a night when the Washington Capitals defenseman made NHL history.

Green scored for the eighth straight game in Saturday night's 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to set the record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman.

What made the milestone all the more special, Green said, was being able to share the moment with his father, Dave, who like many of the Capitals' fathers is accompanying the team on its annual mentors' trip.

"To do it in front of Big Dave, that was great," said Green, who has 22 goals and 50 points to lead all defensemen. "I can't wait to give him a hug. I think he would have been here no matter what, whether it was the fathers' trip or not. But that one was for him."

Green's milestone tally broke a 25-year-old record and edged him to within a game of tying the franchise record for consecutive games with a goal by any player. He can pull even with Mike Gartner (1986-87) and Alan Haworth (1985-86) on Sunday against the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.

Green's goal, though, was just a single strike in an early offensive outburst that set the stage for the Capitals' eighth straight win over the Lightning, the longest streak for either team in the series.

Alexander Semin had a goal and two assists while goaltender Michal Neuvirth overcame early jitters to earn a win in his NHL debut. Neuvirth, 20, finished with 31 saves, including a scintillating glove save on Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier in the first period that seemed to settle his nerves and boost his confidence.

"I made the save, it was like I can play at this level," said Neuvirth, the eighth player to make his big league debut this season for the Capitals, and the team's second goalie to win his first career start. "It was a big save."

Neuvirth's interview, though, was cut short by another shaving cream pie to the face delivered by Ovechkin, who, like his teammates, was whooping and hollering and slapping high fives in the visitors' dressing room.

"It wasn't a 3-0 first period, and he made some great saves and kept us in the game," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's what you need goalies to do -- keep you in the game, make that save until you get your legs underneath you. We were the better team the second half of the game."

Neuvirth's performance, however, was overshadowed by Green's feat.

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