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José Theodore gets the win, despite a disastrous start

By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 22, 2010; D05

PITTSBURGH -- José Theodore entered Thursday's showdown against the Pittsburgh Penguins with soaring confidence and his first four-game winning streak of the season. Within the first five minutes, he had a potential mess on his hands.

Skating to his left to corral a dump-in, the Washington Capitals goalie managed to bludgeon the puck between his legs and toward his own net. As the puck squirted into the air, Theodore tried and failed to swipe it away. Finally, he stood nearly still on the goal line as the puck was jammed into the net.

"Coming into the game today I felt really good about my game, where it was, and then I come and give a goal like this," Theodore later said, shaking his head. "That's pretty much -- not pretty much -- that's my mistake all the way. We had the momentum and then it's 1-0 for them."

But with the home crowd roaring and press box wags smirking about the Caps' goaltending situation, Theodore settled down. He stopped 34 of the final 36 shots he faced, helping the Capitals pull away for a 6-3 victory. In the process, he won a fifth straight game for the first time in more than a year.

"In the past, that might have really rattled him," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It didn't rattle him at all, just like it didn't rattle us. I think he made a big save right after that, and that got him in the rhythm. And then we kept coming."

On the other side of the rink, longtime Caps goalie Brent Johnson was running into troubles of his own. The veteran had hoped to re-sign with Washington this past offseason, but when a logjam of three other goalies under contract left him without a spot, he wound up with the team's biggest rival. And with starter Marc-André Fleury out with a broken finger, Johnson was average against his ex-teammates, at one point yielding four goals on 11 shots.

"Of course it's a good sign for us," Alex Ovechkin said of facing a goalie he knows well. "We know his good strengths and bad strengths."

Theodore's showing, meantime, likely won't calm concerns about Washington's netminding, but he did enough, allowing the Caps to beat last year's Stanley Cup participants in consecutive games.

"The only way you could react is to bounce back and make a couple of big saves just to show the bench, show the coaches, everybody that it didn't affect you," Theodore said. "That's what I think I did, and for the rest of the game it was okay."

Green takes to Twitter

Top defenseman Mike Green was unable to play, but he still managed to make news, delivering the word of his status via Twitter.

After missing Wednesday's practice, Green took the ice for warmups but did not participate fully. He then tweeted that he was out before the teams had officially announced their scratches.

"Pens fans wish I was scared sometimes you get injuries nothing you can do . . . Enjoy the game," Green wrote shortly before the game began.

Green, who is expected to return to practice on Friday, is an infrequent user of the social networking site; before Thursday, he hadn't posted an update since Dec. 12. But Pittsburgh fans had been peppering his account with messages throughout the day, many with the taunting tag of "greenfearscrosby."

After Caps fans responded to his note with dozens of encouraging messages, the defenseman again chimed in, writing: "Caps fans are the best fans in the league by far. Kudos to you guys."

Other leagues have cracked down on such activities. The NBA bans players and team personnel from using social networking sites from 45 minutes before games begin until after players' responsibilities are concluded. The NFL cuts off use 90 minutes before kickoff. The NHL has no similar policy.

Finally, a power play

The Capitals went nearly 36 minutes before getting their first power play, which they converted on Ovechkin's wrist shot through traffic from the top of the circles. Before Kris Letang was called for hooking, these teams had played more than 116 minutes, dating from last season's playoffs, without a Washington power play.

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