November 30th, 2006

Hockey Night In Washington: Caps vs. Stars

I’ll be in the box again tonight, but Ellen Blanchard is out of town, so Kate McGovern will be slipping behind the glass with her camera tonight for the first time. Don’t forget to take a quick look at her gallery of pics from yesterday’s practice.

As always, I’ll be on AIM at Emacawriter during the game. Please feel free to stop by, say hello and ask any questions you like.

The obvious storyline coming into tonight’s game is the return to Washington of favorite son Jeff Halpern. His return is also the subject of short features in the Post and the Times this morning. I’m curious to see how the fans treat Jeff when he first steps on the ice, but a part of me thinks it won’t be anything like the reception that once greeted ex-Caps like Scott Stevens, Larry Murphy and Kevin Hatcher. Over at the team’s message boards, one fan decided to express his disrespect for Halpern, and was quickly admonished by other posters.

One other note: Halpern was a guest on the John Thompson Show on WTEM yesterday, but they’ve yet to post the audio.

Here’s a selection of stories floating around this morning.

Kolzig, Halpern reunite (Times)
Once the Caps’ Captain, Halpern Returns Merely a Star (Post)
Dallas Morning News
Mike Vogel

More later.

UPDATE: Here’s more previews from around the Web:

Japers’ Rink
Caps Nut
D.C. Sports Chick
On Frozen Blog
The Peerless Prognosticator
Puckhead
The Sin Bin
Caps Chick

More later from the rink.

UPDATE: Greetings from press row. Just said hello to the Razor himself, Darryl Reaugh. Told him I loved the blog and he said thanks.

Here’s a sign of the apocalypse: Fox 5 DC just interviewed about blogging. I’ll let you all know when the story is going to run.

Still waiting on the starting lineups. Back soon.

STARTING LINEUPS: DALLAS: G: Smith; D: Boucher, Zubov. W: Stefan, Barnes. C: Halpern. CAPS: G: Kolzig; D: Erskine, Eminger; W: Gordon, Zednik; C: Laich.

SCRATCHES: DALLAS: Grossman and Barnaby. CAPS: Zubrus, Bradley and Muir. Looks like another disappointing mid-week crowd. Puck about to drop. Gotta go.

Anti Miettinen.

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Photo by Kate McGovern

Chris Clark and Jeff Halpern.

jeff-halpern-113006.JPG
Photo by Kate McGovern

Brian Sutherby after colliding with Marty Turco in the third period.

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Photo by Kate McGovern

END OF FIRST PERIOD: CAPS 2 DALLAS 0: Wow. Was looking like it was going to be a snoozer of a first period, but then the Caps scored two quickies in the second half of the period to take a 2-0 lead.

The first goal was scored by Richard Zednik, but Brooks Laich, who had been scoreless before tonight, should get all of the credit. Digging the puck out along the left wing boards in the Caps zone, Laich battled all the way up the ice before bearing down on Smith in net — which is when he found Zednik alone on the right wing for a easy tap-in.

The second goal came on a power play with Antti Miettinen in the box, and it was all on the shoulders of Captain Chris Clark. He was battling along the boards behind the net when he threw the puck out in front of the net. Clark pursued the puck into a scrum in front of the net and banged it home for a 2-0 lead.

Here’s what the Razor had to say about Stars rookie goalie Mike Smith a few days ago:

You heard it here first. Mike Smith will be named as the goalie on the end of the year NHL All-Rookie team.

His competition right now is non-existant. There are only 5 other first year targets who have played and most of them would have trouble stopping their own urine.

Smith has a GAA under 2.00, but he’s looking human tonight.

Jeff Halpern wasn’t booed during player introductions, but there was a smattering of boos as he was rung up for a roughing penalty. As I’ve said before, I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with Halpern. He put in a number of good years here, and it isn’t like the guy pulled a Pronger or something.

END OF SECOND PERIOD: CAPS 4 DALLAS 1: A very interesting period, one where it looked like the Caps were going to let the Stars back in the game, but where the crossbar served as the turning point
for the whole period.

The Stars cut the lead to 2-1 when Mark Riberio picked up the puck just inside the Caps blue line along the right wing boards. He skated in on Kolzig and found Jussi Jokinen all alone in front of the net to tap it in.

Alex Ovechkin had a chance to make to even the score after Smith flung his stick at him in an attempt to dislodge the puck on a breakaway — the refs awarded Ovechkin a penalty shot. But he didn’t convert, losing the handle on the puck in front of the net as it skittered away harmlessly.

The whole period turned on the next sequence with Dallas on the power play. With John Erskine in the box for playing with a broken stick,
the Dallas power play was clicking and creating shots left and right. One sequence ended with a wrist shot from Eric Lindros rattling off the crossbar.

After that the period was all Caps. First, Brian Pothier sprung Matt Pettinger on a breakaway straight up the slot, and Pettinger beat Smith to the glove side. Later, Klepis, getting time on the power play, dug the puck out from behind the net and threw it out to the point where Semin one-timed it past Smith for a 4-1 lead.

Other plays of note: Mike Green did a good job of driving Miettinen off the puck with a check just inside the Caps blue line; and Erskine might have made the defensive play of the period when he made a diving sweep check to strip Lindros of the puck and rob him of a scoring chance.

FINAL: CAPS 4 DALLAS 3: How many times have we seen the Caps let a team off the mat and back into a game? Too many times, that’s how many. And they almost let another one get away tonight. But thanks to Kolzig — again — they held off Dallas for the win.

Note: Turco replaces Smith in net.

Dallas got one back when the Caps couldn’t clear the zone at 16:39. After Lindros chipped the puck to Phillipe Boucher, he found Stu Barnes all alone on left wing and he wristed it past Kolzig.

The lead was cut to 4-3 when Boucher launched a wrister at the net that Kolzig couldn’t handle from the left point. Jokinen jumped on the rebound for his second goal and it was 4-3. The Stars then spent most of the rest of the period in Washington’s end of the ice, but Kolzig was able to turn away the rest of the chances.

4-3 is the final, and after two quick wins in a row, that six-game losing streak is just a memory.

There was a gruesome moment with about 4:30 left in the third period as Jamie Heward was cut by Mike Modano’s skate blade. From the replay, it looked as if Heward was cut around the cheek bone and was bleeding pretty badly as he skated to the bench. More later, if warranted.

MORNING UPDATE: Looks like Heward is out indefinitely.

Kolzig finally gets win over Stars, (Times)
Capitals Put It All Together, (Post)

3 Responses to “Hockey Night In Washington: Caps vs. Stars”

  1. Japers says:

    “… [M]of them would have trouble stopping their own urine.”

    Seriously?

    Great recap, as always.

    Oh, and I agree with respect to Halpern. I’d add that if you booed, presumably you are angry that he left, but would you really want him in D.C. at $2m/year either forced into a second-line center role for which he’s ill-equipped or taking Sutherby’s spot centering the third-line? Gordo’s on the fourth?

    Here’s my last question – was last night the first time in NHL history an opponent’s fourth line center got booed?

  2. pj48 says:

    Great photos. The photo of Jeff Halpern in the Washington Post the other day was a little hard to look at.

    That was a solid Caps win over a very deep Dallas team.

  3. Victor Ramirez says:

    Eric, is there any way for those of us at the game to contact you, to let you know that, say, Yvon Labre and Dick Patrick are sitting behind them (not together, tho, and it’s certainly not unusual to see Mr. Labre in the stands), or pointing out Zubie playing around during warmups?

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