Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Theodore Shines In Tight Game

Capitals 2, Flyers 1 OT/SO (1-0)
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Philly.com

The may have been some concern in the net for the Capitals. A shaky start to the season for Jose Theodore left many to believe that the Caps would have to win with questionable goaltending. In the last 6 starts, those who had doubt might have to eat a bit of crow. Theo has now won his last 6 starts, allowing 2 goals or less in the last 5 games and helping the Caps to a 2-1 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Nick Backstrom scored the opening goal on the power play. Alex Semin got the assist. It looked early on that the Capitals had a jump on the Flyers, but the Marty Biron (who looked pretty shaky through the first two periods) kept the Flyers in the game long enough to get a power play goal to tie the game at one early in the third. Overtime settled nothing and Viktor Kozlov scored the only shootout goal as JT60 stopped all three Flyers (Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter) to give the Caps an the best home record in the Eastern Conference (18-1-1).

The game had a playoff atmosphere. While there was a few Flyer sweaters peppered throughout the crowd, the Caps clearly had the home advantage as the fans were abundant and loud. While the game was low scoring, there was no lack of excitement through an intense game.

The Capitals' chances seem to outnumber the Flyers' but they just couldn't convert. Micheal Nylander had practically an open net in the second period but couldn't get the puck over the diving defender Ossi Vaananen. Eric Fehr had some great chances in the first and second, but couldn't find the back of the net. Semin had a sick move in overtime on a two on one, but maybe held on to it for just a half a beat too long.

Meanwhile, Theo made great save after great save even getting a standing ovation for a save on a broken play by the Caps and the Flyers had a two on one. Both Biron and Theodore had 33 saves, but it seemed JT60 had more quality saves when the Caps were just hanging by a one goal lead. Theodore was good with the initial shot, good with his rebound control and was there with the big save when the Caps needed him to be.

Both teams may have considered themselves lucky, Flyers to escape with a point and the Caps with their win. With Boston losing at home in regulation against Minnesota, the Capitals now have the best home record in the East (Bruins now 14-2-1, Caps 18-1-1). The Caps celebrate the best record to the halfway mark in franchise history. The schedule doesn't get any better. In the next five games the Caps will face Montreal, Pittsburgh and Boston.

Photo AP, Luis M. Alvarez

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