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A mere 10 years ago, the Washington Capitals found themselves in the midst of the longest winning streak in franchise history, one that started on January 13 and continued into the month of February. Part 1 can be found HERE. This part discusses the remainder of the streak.
Game 8 – 1/27/2010 – Capitals vs Anaheim Ducks
With starter Jose Theodore injured, young netminder Michal Neuvirth started in goal for then-Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. Fellow young goalie Semyon Varlamov was not ready to play, and as a result, the Caps recalled Braden Holtby from the Hershey Bears to serve as backup. Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring early in the first at the 36-mark, with assists credited to Mike Knuble and Mike Green. The Capitals held onto the 1-0 through the first period and just over halfway through the second period, when Anaheim’s Dan Sexton tied the game at 1-1 at the 11:36 mark. The Caps would explode in the third period with four goals, scored by Shaone Morrisonn, Knuble and two by Alexander Semin to seal the 5-1 victory.
Game 9 – 1/29/2010 – Capitals vs Florida Panthers
While Theodore appeared to be on the road to recovery, he again sat out another game, while Neuvirth earned the start. The opening frame’s early minutes were rather hectic. Mike Green took an elbowing penalty just 4:24 into the period, followed just moments later by Florida’s Bryan McCabe taking a hooking penalty. On the ensuing, short power play, the Caps struck first on a goal from Nicklas Backstrom, with assists from Green and Mike Knuble. Florida tied up the game 4:22 into the second period on a goal from Stephen Weiss, but the Capitals would respond less than half a minute later, as Knuble scored the go-ahead goal at the 4:47 mark of the period. Towards the end of the period, Green suffered an injury to his right knee on a hit and had to exit the game. The Capitals added two more goals during the third period en route to a 4-1 victory. The main post-game topic concerned Green, as a result of his knee injury and the elbowing penalty he received during the first period. The next day, Green was suspended for three games but due to the injury would not have been able to play the next game.
Game 10 – 1/31/2010 – Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning
As a result of Theodore returning to game action, Neuvirth was re-assigned to Hershey so that he would be eligible to play during the Olympic Break, and Holtby was recalled to replace him as backup. The first period saw neither team unable to dent the twine, however, just under a minute into the second period, Backstrom scored a power play goal on assists from Ovechkin and Tomas Fleischmann. The Capitals would strike again during the period when Brooks Laich scored at the 12:56 mark on assists from Alexander Semin and Fleischmann. In the third period, Tampa Bay scored two goals to tie the game. However, Alex Ovechkin would score the game winner at the 13:34 mark on assists from Backstrom and Tom Poti, to seal the 3-2 victory. This win tied the Capitals’ franchise record for consecutive victories.
Game 11 – 2/2/2010 – Capitals @ Boston Bruins
This game started a two-game road trip for the Caps and was the start of the Annual Mentors’ trip. The Capitals were facing a Bruins team who had lost their previous seven games in a row. However, the visitors did not get off to a good start during the first period. Over a minute into a penalty to Matt Bradley, Alexander Semin took a high-sticking penalty to put the Caps on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. Just 10 seconds later, Boston scored on the ensuing power play on a goal from David Krejci, to take the 1-0 lead. Mike Knuble tied the game at 1-1 two minutes into the second period, a score that would stand until the Capitals exploded in the third period on goals from Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon, with Ovechkin potting the empty-net goal during the last minute of play to secure the 4-1 victory, giving the Caps their 11th win in a row and the most in franchise history. It was also Jose Theodore’s eighth consecutive win, a game in which he made 41 saves.
Game 12—2/4/2010—Capitals @ New York Rangers
The first period in the Big Apple was a seesaw affair in which the scoring was started on a power play goal by the Rangers. The Capitals tied it up late in the second period only to have the Rangers pull ahead just 10 seconds later. The Caps would tie the game less then five minutes into the second period on a goal from Mike Knuble, on assists from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin scored on the power play to put the Caps ahead 3-2 just over two minutes after the Knuble goal. Nearly 12 minutes into the period, the Capitals found themselves in penalty trouble. Knuble took a penalty that resulted in an ensuing power play goal by the Rangers. Then, first Jason Chimera and then, Nicklas Backstrom took penalties, setting up a 5-on-3 situation in which the Rangers scored to take a 4-3 lead. Alexander Semin took a penalty with less than three minutes to go in the middle frame, and the Rangers scored another power play goal to take a 5-3 lead. Fortunately for the visitors, with just nine seconds left in the period, Ovechkin scored to close the gap to 5-4. During the third period, it was the Rangers who got into penalty trouble. Less than a minute into the third, Tom Poti scored on a power play to tie the game at 5-5. Backstrom would scored the game-winning goal on a power play at the 5:34 mark. The final score was 6-5 in favor of Washington in a sloppy, seesaw game in which a total of 15 minor penalties were called on both teams and seven power play goals were scored. Ovechkin’s second goal of the game was the 500th point of his NHL career.
Game 13 – 2/5/2010 – Caps vs Atlanta Thrashers
The story before the Capitals’ first home game following the brief road trip was the major snowstorm that was hitting the East Coast, including the Washington D.C. area, and was expected to increase in intensity by the time the game ended. Additionally, Neuvirth was recalled from Hershey and would start this game, while Mike Green returned to the lineup after serving his three-game suspension.
As had become typical during this time frame, the Capitals gave up the first goal of the game to Atlanta, falling behinf 1-0 at the 2:46 mark of the opening frame. Following this, Atlanta took three minor penalties, with Alex Ovechkin scoring the tying goal on the third of the Caps’ subsequent power plays. The Capitals took the lead over four minutes into the second period on a goal from Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals would increase their lead during the early part of the third period, on goals from Alexander Semin and Jason Chimera. They would give up a shorthanded goal at the 13:15 mark of the third, before Green scored an empty-net goal at the 18:33 mark to give the Caps a 5-2 victory.
Game 14 – 2/7/2010 — Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Much like the previous game, the main storyline heading into a Sunday matinee with the Penguins was the effect the massive snowstorm had on the game. The Penguins had played in Montreal the previous day but, due to the fact that all the airports in the Washington D.C. area were closed, would not be able to fly there. Amtrak meanwhile had limited service, so the Penguins could not fly to New York and take the train to DC from there. As a result, the Penguins ended up flying to Newark, New Jersey and took a bus from there, arriving at their hotel at 2:00 A.M. The game still took place at 12:00 PM as scheduled.
During the first two periods, the Caps looked like the more tired team as Pittsburgh jumped to a lead before the first period was even half over, thanks to two goals by Sidney Crosby, with one coming at even-strength and one on the power play. With four minutes left in the first period, Mike Knuble got into a fight with Craig Adams after a hit along the boards to Alex Ovechkin. In addition to the fighting penalty, he also earned an fighting instigator and a 10-minute misconduct. Ovechkin scored nine minutes into the second period but Pittsburgh scored less than three minutes later. At this point in the game, tempers began to flare and several penalties were doled out to both teams, including two-minute roughings and 10-minute misconducts. The Capitals’ entire first-line was thus in the penalty box as Knuble’s penalty from the previous period had still carried over. The Penguins scored less than two minutes later to take a 4-1 lead. Eric Fehr scored before the end of the period to bring the score to 4-2.
Ovechkin scored his second goal nearly seven minutes into the period and completed the hat trick just over four minutes later, to tie the game at 4-4, and one that the Caps once were behind 4-1. With neither team able to score during regulation, the game was sent to overtime. About halfway through the period, Brooks Orpik of Pittsburgh was called for high-sticking Alexander Semin and a game misconduct for complaining to the referees. Soon afterwards, Knuble scored the game-winning goal, earning the 5-4 victory for the Caps. The song “Glory Days” played in the background at then-Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena) as the Caps celebrated their 14th victory in a row.
By Diane Doyle