Caps' Theodore Posts A Satisfying Shutout

Capitals 3, Canadiens 0

Center Michael Nylander, who assisted on Tomas Fleischmann's goal that put the Capitals up 1-0 in the first period, controls the puck.
Center Michael Nylander, who assisted on Tomas Fleischmann's goal that put the Capitals up 1-0 in the first period, controls the puck. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 29, 2008; Page E01

José Theodore saved his best performance -- and first shutout -- as a Washington Capital for the one game he wanted to win more than any other.

Two years after suffering an embarrassing meltdown in his hometown, against the team for whom he starred before an acrimonious breakup, Theodore settled an old score against the Montreal Canadiens last night before a sold-out crowd at Verizon Center, stopping all 28 shots he faced to lift the injury-plagued Capitals to a 3-0 victory.

"He was fabulous," Coach Bruce Boudreau, who became the fastest Capitals coach to 50 wins (84) as his team improved to 9-0-1 at home. "He was square to the puck. There were no big rebounds. The saves in the second period, for about five minutes there, were pretty dazzling with his acrobatics and athletic skills."

Tomas Fleischmann, Alex Ovechkin and David Steckel supplied the offense for a Capitals team that was missing seven players whose names appeared on the opening night roster. Theodore did just about everything else.

"Seeing these young guys with not a lot of experience come in and play with a lot of composure motivated me to make the next save," Theodore said. "When you can get two points with key guys missing, that's huge."

The two points were indeed huge. But the victory meant so much more to Theodore.

A native of Laval, Quebec, he was drafted by the Canadiens in 1994 and won the Hart and Vezina Trophies in the bleu, blanc and rouge in 2002. But he was stung by the trade that sent him to Colorado in March 2006.

Eight months later, Theodore made his first start against the Canadiens as a member of the Avalanche. The result wasn't pretty. He surrendered eight goals, five in the third period, in an 8-5 defeat.

"The last game I played was not a fun game," Theodore said. "I played 500 games with them, but you've got to turn the page."

Now he finally can.

"When you are traded as a goalie, it means they don't believe in you, that you can't do the job," Donald Brashear said of the significance of Theodore's win. "Even though he gave them some good years, you could tell this means a lot to him. He was our best player tonight."

Ovechkin wasn't bad, either. The reigning MVP continued his torrid scoring pace, notching his 11th goal in the past 10 games while taking seven shots on goal. Fleischmann scored his fifth goal in eight games and rookie defenseman Karl Alzner, skating in only his second NHL game, took more shifts (28) than any other Capital.

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