Capitals win 9th straight despite Green's early exit with injury

Washington makes it nine straight with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Florida Panthers on Friday night.
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mike Knuble recorded another multi-goal game, and Jeff Schultz became the latest low-scoring defenseman to end a goal drought Friday night at Verizon Center. But the focus after the Washington Capitals picked up their ninth straight victory with a 4-1 triumph over the Florida Panthers was the uncertain status of Mike Green.

Green suffered a charley horse near his right knee during an open-ice collision with Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov late in the second period. The league's leading scorer among defenseman went down in a heap, lay on the ice motionless for several moments and did not return to the game.

Green and Coach Bruce Boudreau both said the injury is not believed to be serious, but Green was walking with a limp and could not guarantee that he'll be in the lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We'll see," said Green, who attempted to return before calling it a night. "I can't really tell right now. It's not serious, but we'll see."

Boudreau was a bit more optimistic, saying: "I assume he'll be playing Sunday. He came out there, as you saw, and he felt fine. But we didn't want to take any chances. It was more of a charley horse than anything else."

The coach added, "I'm just very happy to see that it is not going to be long term."

The encouraging news allowed the Capitals to celebrate another win, giving them the franchise's longest streak since 1983-84, when the club won 10 straight.

"I thought we were lucky, actually," Boudreau said. "Because I didn't think we had our best game tonight. We gave up way too many chances, but [Michal] Neuvirth was outstanding. When you have good goaltending, sometimes you [overcome] your mistakes."

Boudreau was referring to a sequence early in the third period when Schultz scored his first goal in 42 games with a point shot through traffic that stretched the Capitals' lead to 3-1.

About a minute and a half later, Neuvirth (35 stops) snapped a Kulikov slap shot from midair with a scintillating glove save.

"It was a big goal. It was a relief goal," Boudreau said. "I thought the Panthers were really coming on and I knew Michal was going to have to make a couple of big saves."

Sixty-one seconds after Neuvirth's save, Knuble capped a physical contest that featured three roughing penalties by scoring his second goal of the night. The rugged winger ripped a shot past Tomas Vokoun (36 saves) on the short side from the faceoff circle.

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