September 21, 2019

PHOTOS: Washington Capitals Home Opener 2014

The Washington Capitals hosted the Montreal Canadiens for the 2014 home opener on Thursday night, October 9. The crowd returned to rock the red for a brand new season. The Habs ended up with the 2-1 in a four round shootout. See DSP’s Three Stars of the Game and game recap.

Enjoy the photos from the player introductions, ceremonial puck drop to kick off the Caps’ 40th Anniversary featuring four Capitals’ greats and the National Anthems.

40th Anniversary Logo - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

40th Anniversary Logo – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

INTRODUCTIONS TO THE 2014 WASHINGTON CAPITALS……

Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 - Caps waiting to be introduced (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 – Caps waiting to be introduced (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps coaching staff and scratched players - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps coaching staff and scratched players – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Matt Niskanen - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Matt Niskanen – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Eric Fehr - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Eric Fehr – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Troy Brouwer - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Troy Brouwer – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jason Chimera - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jason Chimera – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Karl Alzner - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Karl Alzner – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Justin Peters - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Justin Peters – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jack Hillen - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Jack Hillen – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Joel Ward - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Joel Ward – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Andre Burakovsky - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Andre Burakovsky – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Chris Brown - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Chris Brown – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Braden Holtby - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Braden Holtby – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

John Carlson - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

John Carlson – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Liam O'Brien - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Liam O’Brien – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nate Schmidt - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nate Schmidt – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Marcus Johansson - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Marcus Johansson – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Evgeny Kuznetsov - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Evgeny Kuznetsov – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nicklas Backstrom - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nicklas Backstrom – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Orpik (Caps Debut)- Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Orpik (Caps Debut)- Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin – Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

CEREMONIAL PUCK DROP……

Former Caps Captain Rod Langway - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Caps Captain Rod Langway – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Capitals Rod Langway, Craig Laughlin, Sylvain Cote and Peter Bondra, wearing the jerseys they played in, to drop ceremonial puck before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Capitals Rod Langway, Craig Laughlin, Sylvain Cote and Peter Bondra, wearing the jerseys they played in, to drop ceremonial puck before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

All-time Caps goals leader, Peter Bondra - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

All-time Caps goals leader, Peter Bondra – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin skates to join former Caps for ceremonial puck drop - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin skates to join former Caps for ceremonial puck drop – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Capitals Rod Langway, Craig Laughlin, Sylvain Cote and Peter Bondra drop ceremonial puck joined by Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin and Habs Andrei Markov before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Capitals Rod Langway, Craig Laughlin, Sylvain Cote and Peter Bondra drop ceremonial puck joined by Caps Captain Alex Ovechkin and Habs Andrei Markov before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Handshakes after ceremonial puck drop - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Handshakes after ceremonial puck drop – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

NATIONAL ANTHEMS……

Caleb Green and Bob McDonald singing the Canadian National Anthem (featuring the new closed captioning on scoreboard) -Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014

Caleb Green and Bob McDonald singing the Canadian National Anthem (featuring the new closed captioning on scoreboard) -Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014

Caleb Green and Bob McDonald singing the National Anthem -Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014

Caleb Green and Bob McDonald singing the National Anthem -Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014

Habs during the National Anthem - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Habs during the National Anthem – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps during National Anthem - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps during National Anthem – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

CAPS: Capitals Alumnus Alan May Hosts Hockey School at Manassas Park Elementary School

Washington Capitals alumnus Alan May instructs a student on stickhandling during a Washington Capitals Hockey School at Manassas Park Elementary School on April 5. The visit marked the team’s fourteenth assembly of the academic year. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals alumnus Alan May instructs a student on stickhandling during a Washington Capitals Hockey School at Manassas Park Elementary School on April 5. The visit marked the team’s fourteenth assembly of the academic year. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals mascot Slapshot instructs a Manassas Park Elementary School student on goaltending during a Hockey School program on April 5. Hockey School is a free instructional and interactive program that aims to expose students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals mascot Slapshot instructs a Manassas Park Elementary School student on goaltending during a Hockey School program on April 5. Hockey School is a free instructional and interactive program that aims to expose students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals alumnus Alan May leads his team in a chant prior to playing in a scrimmage against Slapshot’s boys team. Hockey School is a free instructional and interactive program that aims to expose students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals alumnus Alan May leads his team in a chant prior to playing in a scrimmage against Slapshot’s boys team. Hockey School is a free instructional and interactive program that aims to expose students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Capitals Alumnus Alan May Hosts Hockey School at Manassas Park Elementary School
As a child in Alberta, Canada, opportunities for Washington Capitals alumnus Alan May to play hockey depended on one stipulation: good grades.

“School was really important to be able to play hockey because if I didn’t bring home good grades, my parents wouldn’t let me play,” May recently told a group of 215 Manassas Park Elementary School students. “In order for me to get out of the house for my parents to let me play hockey I had to have really good grades in school. It’s pretty important, especially for kids who want to go to college.”

May, who played with the Capitals from 1989-94 as a left wing, was at the Manassas Park, Va., school for a Washington Capitals Hockey School.

Hockey School is a free instructional and interactive program that aims to expose students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique.

During the program May introduced students to hockey by sharing anecdotes about his experience playing hockey, including memories from the first time he played hockey as a three-year-old to highlights of his first professional hockey game.

Following a question and answer session, May demonstrated skills and offered one-on-one instruction to students on stickhandling, passing and shooting.
Students then played in a scrimmage with May and Capitals mascot Slapshot as their teammates.

“It was a very good group of kids – enthusiastic as always,” said May, who currently serves as Comcast SportsNet’s Capitals Analyst. “They had a lot of fun and seemed like they really love the game of hockey.”

At the conclusion of the visit, which was the team’s fourteenth assembly of the academic year, the Capitals donated a set of street hockey equipment to the school.

“It was awesome to have the Capitals come into the school,” said Manassas Park physical education teacher Ryan Bogner. “Now that we’ve received all this equipment from the Capitals – we’ve got goals, we’ve got goalie equipment, we’ve got sticks, pucks – we’re definitely going to be able to incorporate hockey more into our education curriculum.”

CAPS: Washington Capitals Alums Langway and Mulvey Host Hockey School

Washington Capitals alumnus Rod Langway instructs a student on passing during a Washington Capitals Hockey School at Creighton’s Corner Elementary School in Ashburn, Va. on Oct. 4, 2012. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Capitals Alumni Rod Langway and Paul Mulvey Host Capitals Hockey School
at Creighton’s Corner Elementary School

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals alumnus and NHL Hall of Famer Rod Langway, fellow alumnus Paul Mulvey and mascot Slapshot visited Creighton’s Corner Elementary School in Ashburn, Va., on Thursday, Oct. 4, for the third Capitals Hockey School assembly of the 2012-13 school year.

Hockey School is a free program, designed to be both instructional and interactive, with the goal of exposing students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique.

Langway and Mulvey began the session by responding to questions from an audience of 190 fifth-grade students prior to instructing the group on basic hockey skills, including stick-handling, passing and shooting. Students were then invited to practice the skills in front of their peers.

The clinic concluded with several students participating in a friendly scrimmage joined by Langway and Mulvey as their teammates. The scrimmage ended in a tie, with Langway representing the girls team and Mulvey representing the boys team.

“The kids adapted well to the lessons that we gave them,” said Langway, a former Capitals defenseman who played in more than 700 games with the team from 1982-93. “They were so excited to play hockey and it was great to see their enthusiasm for the sport.”

“Some of the students out there with us were hockey players, and they were superb,” said Mulvey, a former Capitals left wing who played in 187 games with the team from 1978-81. “I hope all the children enjoyed learning about the game.”

Following the clinic the Capitals donated a set of street hockey equipment to the school. All students received an autographed alumni card, a hockey 101 booklet and a Capitals squishy puck. Creighton’s Corner Elementary School also received a Capitals Hockey School banner to display in their school gymnasium.

The Capitals host two Hockey School visits each month between September and May and donate street hockey equipment to each participating school.

The 2012-13 season marks the sixth consecutive year the Capitals have conducted their Hockey School program. The Capitals have hosted more than 70 clinics and reached more than 10,000 students in the past four years.

Washington Capitals alumnus Paul Mulvey instructs a student on stickhandling during a Washington Capitals Hockey School at Creighton’s Corner Elementary School in Ashburn, Va., on Oct. 4, 2012. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals alumni Rod Langway and Paul Mulvey pose with students and staff following a Washington Capitals Hockey School at Creighton’s Corner Elementary School in Ashburn, Va. on Oct. 4, 2012. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

PHOTOS: Washington Capitals and Wizards Night at Nationals Park

Tuesday night, August 21, was a special Capitals and Wizards Night at Nationals Park as the Washington Nationals faced conference rival, the Atlanta Braves. Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards season-ticket holders had exclusive access to tickets for the game and a pregame meet and greet opportunity with Capitals alum Rod Langway and Bullets alum Phil Chenier!

It was Washington Capitals and Wizards Season Ticket Holder Night at Nats Park. Former Caps Rod Langway and Former Bullets Phil Chenier on the field for pre-game festivities – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals “Enforcer” and NHL Hall of Famer Rod Langway signed autographs and posed for photographs with fans, as well as deliver the lineup card before the game.

It was Washington Capitals and Wizards Season Ticket Holder Night at Nats Park. Former Caps Rod Langway delivered lineup card before game – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

It was Washington Capitals and Wizards Season Ticket Holder Night at Nats Park. Former Caps Rod Langway delivered lineup card before game – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Langway, known as the “Secretary of Defense”, was a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy which is given to the NHL’s top defensemen. He also finished second to Wayne Gretzky in 1982 for the Hart Trophy which is given to the MVP of the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1979. Langway was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

NHL Hall of Famer Rod Langway was at the Washington Capitals and Wizards Season Ticket Holder Night at Nats Park. – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Former Washington Bullets star Phil Chenier signed autographs and posed for photographs with fans, as well as say, “Let’s Play Ball” before the game.

It was Washington Capitals and Wizards Season Ticket Holder Night at Nats Park. Former Bullets Phil Chenier said, “Let’s Play Ball!” – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

It was Washington Capitals and Wizards Season Ticket Holder Night at Nats Park. Former Bullets Phil Chenier said, “Let’s Play Ball!” – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Phil Chenier was selected fourth in the 1971 NBA Hardship Draft  by the then Baltimore Bullets and played for the Bullets from 1971-79. Chenier was a member of the 1972 NBA All-Rookie Team and was named to three NBA All-Star teams. Chenier suffered a back injury during 1977 season and retired in 1981 after briefly playing for the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors.

Chenier is currently working for CSN Washington covering the Washington Wizards with Steve Buckhantz.

Former Washington Bullets player Phil Chenier smiling at fans before game – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/21/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Happy Birthday, Bruce Boudreau

HAPPY 57th BIRTHDAY BRUCE BOUDREAU!

The former Washington Capitals Head Coach and current Head Coach with Anaheim Ducks was born on 01/09/1955 in Toronto, ON, Canada.

Washington Times beat reporter Steve Whyno caught up with Boudreau yesterday out in Los Angeles.

District Sports Page would like to thank Coach Bruce Boudreau for his time in Washington and wish him the best of luck.

Caps Former Head Coach Bruce Boudreau (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

PHOTOS: Caps Fan Flames; Green Returns

Here are a few photographs from pre-game warmups and Calgary Flames v. Washington Capitals game on Jan. 3 at Verizon Center. Caps won 3-1 (Game 38 Re-Cap). Former Capitals Scott Hannan and Brendan Morrison returned to DC wearing Flames sweaters. Mike Green played in his first game since Nov. 11. All photos taken by Cheryl Nichols (@cnichols14). [Read more…]

GAME 26 RE-CAP: Late Push Falls Short in 5-4 Loss to Cats

The website of the Florida Panthers billed it as the “RETURN OF VOKOUN,” the first time Washington Capitals netminder Tomas Vokoun would return to the building that was his home rink for four seasons.

However, defying expectations and playing  a hunch, new Caps head coach chose to start Michal Neuvirth in net instead of Vokoun for the Monday night matchup.

Hunter’s hunch was wrong.

Neuvirth allowed 5 goals on 30 Florida shots as Washington fell 5-4 in the divisional matchup. Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, Brooks Laich, and Jason Chimera scored for the Caps, while Stephen Weiss struck twice and Mike Santorelli, Dmitry Kulikov, and Sean Bergenehim all scored for the Panthers. Rarely-used backup Scott Clemmensen made 28 saves to earn his third win of the season.

At one point the score was 5-1, as the Panthers dominated Washington through the first 40 minutes of the game. Hunter’s squad made a furious comeback beginning with Eakin’s goal in the waning seconds of the second period, but it was too little, too late, and the close score only masks the lack of compete level demonstrated by the Caps through much of the game.

Washington entered the game in an odd position, looking up to Florida in the Southeast Division standings, and the result only confirmed the new order of the division.

Washington had trouble finding its spark early on, and the Panthers took advantage of a spate of first period penalties to stake out a three-goal lead.

Weiss, who centers the red-hot top line for Florida, opened the scoring seven minutes in with a shot from the point that deflected off Dennis Wideman’s stick and past Neuvirth.

Before anyone on the visitor’s bench could even process Weiss’s goal, Santorelli doubled the lead 13 seconds later on a weak snapshot from the right halfboards.

Half a period later, Kulikov’s slapshot from the right point on the power play added to his team’s lead. Kulikov’s mark came on the power play, enabled when Caps defenseman John Erskine challenged Florida’s Bracken Kearns to a fight after a particularly vicious but legal hit by Kearns on Jeff Halpern. Erskine earned a two-minute minor and ten-minute misconduct for instigating the fight, in addition to the actual five-minute major for fighting, robbing Washington of a steady, physical defenseman for nearly an entire period.

After a slapshot by Mike Knuble on the Caps rush beat Clemmensen on the near side to put Washington on the board 40 seconds after Kulikov’s marker, Florida regrouped during the first intermission and responded with two more goals in the first half of the second frame.

When Dmitri Orlov committed a slashing penalty immediately after Washington killed a Karl Alzner penalty at the start of the middle period, Bergenheim picked up a loose puck and scored on a wraparound for Florida’s third power play goal of the game. The Panthers were 3-6 on the power play, while the Caps were scoreless with five shots on two power plays.

Not content to rest on their laurels, the Panthers made the deficit 5-1 when Weiss took advantage of a deflection off a shot by former Capital Tomas Fleischmann and an overcommital by Neuvirth to slot the puck into a wide open net with 12:11 left in the second.

Eakin jump-started Washington’s comeback with a nifty wrist shot on a pass from Mathieu Perreault across the slot late in the period.

Florida mostly weathered the Caps’ attack during the third period–Washington out-shot the Panthers 13-6 over the course of the final 20 minutes-but Laich took a pass from Joel Ward cutting into the zone, and then took advantage of a screen by Chimera to zip the puck past Chimera with under eight minutes left in regulation.

Chimera brought things within one goal when he tipped John Carlson’s shot under Clemmensen with just over two minutes left in regulation, but a furious attack by Washington, with an extra skater, in the last 40 seconds of the period was unable to find the back of the net, and the Caps left Sunrise, Florida with another mark in the “Loss” column.

GAME 18 RE-CAP: Caps Prove Shaky At Leafs; Wretched Road Trip Concludes

It doesn’t matter that it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. The Washington Capitals organization and their fans should be

Is Bruce Boudreau back on the hot seat so soon? (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

deeply, deeply concerned about what took place on this week’s three-game road trip, in which each game brought a worse performance than the one before (in all, Washington was outscored 14-3 in the three games against Nashville, Winnipeg, and Toronto) and which concluded with an abysmal 7-1 loss to the understrength Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night.

The usual Toronto sellout crowd of 18,819, as well as a continent-wide audience watching on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, saw a game that blows right to the top of the list of worst Washington losses of the season. This one truly had it all: execrable defending, stagnant offense, and more than a pinch of bad luck.

It also had, it must be said, an excellent performance from the Leafs themselves, who jumped on top just 1:39 into the game when Tim Connolly flipped a wrist shot past Tomas Vokoun from the edge of the face-off circle. Washington appeared to restore normal service just 51 seconds later when Brooks Laich’s slap shot took a generous deflection off John-Michael Liles and sailed into the net past Jonas Gustavsson (40 saves) to tie the score at 1-1. But the Leafs carried the play for the rest of the first period, outshooting Washington 16-8 and re-taking the lead with 44 seconds to go before the first intermission as Matt

Frattin took a cross-ice pass from Joe Colborne and fired past Vokoun.

Washington fell completely apart in the second period as the Leafs went to the net more or less at will and had scoring chances in abundance. With Matt Hendricks in the box after being called for slashing just 17 seconds into the period, the Leafs increased their lead to 3-1 as Tyler Bozak banged home a close-range chance after a beautiful set-up by Joffrey Lupul at the 1:18 mark. The score became 4-1 at 5:29 when Lupul and Bozak combined to set up Phil Kessel to tap in his league-leading 14th goal from the edge of the crease.

That was the end of Vokoun’s evening as Michal Neuvirth entered the fray. Not that it mattered, as Dion Phaneuf sent a cross-ice pass to Lupul, who tapped into the open net to make the score 5-1 at 17:12 after the Caps had missed several golden power play chances to cut into their deficit moments earlier.

Lupul’s goal occurred with Nicklas Backstrom sitting in the penalty box after drawing a double-minor for cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct. Moments later, John Erskine put the puck over the glass  and drew a delay-of-game penalty. Cody Franson made the score 6-1 with 31 seconds to go as he slammed a point shot past the snapping catching glove of Neuvirth.

The third period was essentially a figure-skating exhibition, but there was time enough for former Capital David Steckel to add the coup de grace with a breakaway goal with 44 seconds left to tick the scoreboard over to a magnificent seven, at least for Toronto fans.

It’s tempting to look for subtly positive signs whenever a team suffers a heavy loss, but there are no positives to take from this particular showing. With the possible exception of the goalscorer Laich, no Capital distinguished themselves in a positive light. The defense was simply not good enough as a unit, with Jeff Schultz particularly responsible for Toronto’s first two goals. Vokoun had to endure the humiliation of skating to the bench in the middle of the second period, but in all honesty, there wasn’t very much he could do about any of the goals.

A win on Monday night against the Pacific Division-leading Coyotes will go some of the way toward relieving whatever pressure is on head coach Bruce Boudreau and his staff, but not completely. Questions will still be asked, and it will still be assumed that the Capitals will only be as good as the players allow themselves to be and not as good as Boudreau  pushes them to be. Saturday night’s loss is just another piece of evidence in support of that theory.

GAME 5 Photo Gallery: Ex-Caps come home

The Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers 3-0, behind Tomas Vokoun’s 20 saves. Several former Capitals came to D.C. with the Panthers though, so here are a few shots of the ex-Caps.

Alex Semin and Matt Bradley joust for position. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Flash

Florida Panthers (and former Capitals) Winger Tomas Fleischmann during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Florida Panthers (and former Capitals) Winger Matt Bradley during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Florida Panthers (and former Capitals) Goalie Jose Theodore during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Capitals start season 5-0 for first time in team history (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

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