Columbus, Ohio–Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green summed up the truth following Saturday night’s game against the Blue Jackets. “We know we only played 40 minutes tonight when we need to play 60. It is wasn’t for Jose (Theodore), it would have been a lot different game.”
A team like Washington with a potent offense which is the best in the NHL, can get away with a game like that every now and then. However, their defense can be porous at times but with a shut-down goalie like Jose Theodore, the Capitals can play defense when they have to.
Goalie Jose Theodore (WASH)
Alexander Semin, Tomas Fleischmann and Mike Green scored first-period goals and that was enough for Jose Theodore as Washington beat Columbus 3-2 before 16,957 at Nationwide Arena.
Theodore had 34 saves and improved to 18-0-3 with a goals-against-average under 2.70 since January 13, extending his own Capitals record for decisions without a regulation loss.
Washington set a franchise record with its 51st win of the season. The win also moved them closer to clinching the President’s Trophy for the best NHL record. They only need one more win or a loss by San Jose to grab the trophy for the first time in its history and have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Capitals also continued to add to their franchise record for points in a season to 114 and set a new record for wins on the road, 23.
The Blue Jackets provided some excitement last night, just not enough to win. Antione Vermette scored two goals and Rick Nash added two assists.
The key play in the game for Columbus came early in the 3rd period and trailing 3-2, they had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:30 and a chance to tie and or go ahead and they couldn’t generate any shots.
SOUNDS OF THE GAME FROM THE POSTGAME LOCKER ROOM (to listen to an audio file, click on the link)
44 718 Tomas Fleishmann Washington Capitals Center Got an early lead and hung on
44 721 Alex Ovechkin Washington LW His thoughts on win number 51
44 722 Alex Ovechkin It was nice to see goalie Jose Theodore bounce back and save the game
44 728 Claude Noel Columbus Not scoring on the 5-on-3 was the key to losing
44 736 Claude Noel How does he approach this last week with his interim tag
* Columbus Right Wing Derek Dorsett played in his 100th NHL game.
* Scoring just one goal in his last six games, Alex Ovechkin remains stuck at 133 career goals at home and 133 on the road. He didn’t muster a shot in the first two periods and finished with two total.
* The Blue Jackets are now 4-5-3 all-time against Washington overall and 2-3-2 at Nationwide Arena.
* Nicklas Backstrom, who had 36 goals in his first two seasons combined, scored his 30th goal of the year Thursday night. Backstrom is the first Capitals center in 20 years to record 30 goals, since Mike Ridley (1989-90).
* Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin are the only players in the NHL with at least 30 goals and 50 assists.
* The Capitals are 9-1-1 in April in three seasons under head coach Bruce Boudreau.
* Washington owns the NHL”s best record at home, 28-5-5. The Capitals have hosted sellouts for all 38 home games and a club-record 45 games in a row dating back to last season (53 games including playoffs).
* The Caps have a chance to lead the league in power play percentage for the first time and their 25.6% success rate would break last year’s record of 25.2%.
* The Capitals have seven 20-point scorers, the most of any team in the league.
* Washington has four of the top 20 scorers in the league in Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin. Last year that group made the Capitals the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have its top four scorers all average more than a point per game and they are on pace to repeat that feat.
* Alex Ovechkin hit the 100-point mark last Sunday, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Statsny and Dale Hawerchuk as the only players to do so four times in their first five NHL seasons. Ovechkin has four of the six 100-point seasons in Capitals history. Ovechkin is second in the NHL in points (102) and goals (46), while ranking first in plus/minus (+43), shots (348), points per game (1.52) and goals per game (0.69).
* Mike Green’s assist Thursday gave him 73 points, matching his career high first set last year. He has the most points by a defenseman in consecutive seasons (146) since a trio of Hall of Famers in 1992-93 and ’93-94 (Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy). His goal Tuesday night gave him his third straight year with at least 18 goals, a first for an NHL defenseman since Sergei Gonchar when he was a Capital from 2001-2003. The last non-Caps defenseman to do so was Ray Bourque (1992-94).
Green is enjoying his second straight 70-point season, making him just the 13th defenseman all-time to post 70 or more points in consecutive seasons (joining Bourque, Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch, Al MacInnis, Denis Potvin, Phil Housley, Bobby Orr, Larry Murphy, Nicklaus Lidstrom, Borje Salming, Gary Suter and Randy Carlyle. He’s the seventh to do so before turning 25th (the other six are in the Hall of Fame). Green, Lidstrom and Chris Chelios are the only active defensemen with a single 70-point season.
compiled from staff and wire reports
S. Epatha Merkerson is leaving Law and Order, according to reports out of Hollywood. Merkerson, who has appeared on the NBC series longer than any other cast member, since 1993 or 375 episodes as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, has asked to be released after this season.
S. Epatha Merkerson (nbc)
Sharon Epatha Merkerson was born on November 28, 1952 in Saginaw, Michigan, she is 57. She is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit.
There has been no decision on next season for Law and Order, which if it happens, would be a record-setting 21st season, is still being discussed by NBC as it is in negotiations with TNT to continue showing reruns of the drama in syndication.
compiled from staff, wire reports and Purdue Athletics
Purdue head coach Matt Painter, one of the youngest coaches in college basketball today, not only has financial security but security in recruiting as well. “When athletes are making early decisions, they want to know if the coach will be there during their college career. We’ve been able to prove it to them with the new contract,” he said.
Painter has signed a new contract that will keep him coaching the Boilermakers through the 2016-2017 season. Purdue University said on Friday that the contract calls for Painter to be paid a $1.3 million dollar base salary, plus up to $1 million in incentives for academic, athletic and attendance performance. The deal is retroactive to July 1 and will run through 2016-2017.
Matt Painter (PU)
Coach Painter has a 112-56 record in five seasons at Purdue. The Boilermakers went 29-6 and shared the Big Ten regular season title this season, winning two games in the NCAA tournament before losing to Duke, 70-57 in the Sweet 16. The Boilermakers tied the school record for wins while winning their first regular-season championship since 1996.
The 2008-2009 season, Purdue claimed its first-ever Big Ten conference tournament title en route to its first Sweet 16 appearance in a decade.
The Boilermakers were expected to contend for a spot in the Final Four before star forward Robbie Hummel went down during a late season game at Minnesota with a torn ACL in his right knee. After Hummel’s season-ending injury, Purdue was picked by nearly everyone across the nation to lose to Siena College in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Boilers beat Siena and Texas A&M before losing to Duke.
With the team’s top three players returning next season: E’Twaum Moore, Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson, for their senior years, Painter feels that Purdue will be in a good position for a Final Four push.
compiled from staff and wire reports
The Washington Redskins continued to improve their team this offseason under new head coach Mike Shanahan.
They’ve added another veteran running back to the team, signing Willie Parker to a one-year deal. Parker left the Steelers on Friday to sign a contract that could be worth as much as $3.1 million with incentives.
Willie Parker (steelers photo)
The Redskins still have 28-year-old incumbent running back Clinton Portis returning and they recently inked 30-year-old Larry Johnson to a three-year incentive-laced contract.
The 29-year-old Parker played six years with the Steelers, winning two Super Bowl rings. He has three 1,200-yard seasons, but ran for only 389 yards as a backup.
compiled from staff, wire and internet reports
Mike Cuellar, the cunning lefty from Cuba whose sharp screwball made him a Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion with Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Orioles, died at the age of 72 on Friday.
Cuellar made his major league debut in 1959 and bounced from team-to-team (Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston) for almost 10 years before a key trade took him to Baltimore.
Playing for the powerful Orioles, Cuellar’s potential balloned on one of the most dominant and imposing pitching staff in baseball history, in 1971, he was among four 20-game winners.
Mike Cuellar (Houston photo)
Mike joined Baltimore for the 1969 season and that season became the first Orioles pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award, sharing the honor with Detroit Tigers righthander Denny McLain. During that season, he went 23-11 with 5 shutouts, including a game in which he held Minnesota hitless until Ceasr Tovar’s bloop, leadoff single in the ninth inning.
The Cuban lefty helped pitch the Orioles to three straight World Series from 1969-1971. He finished off that time by teamming with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson to become the only staff other than the 1920 Chicago White Sox with four 20-game winners.
Cuellar proved he was a big-time pitcher, winning big games eventhough he was overshadowed by Jim Palmer and Dave McNally.
Mike started the first American League championship series game ever, in 1969 against the Minnesota Twins. He then outpitched Tom Seaver of the New York Mets in Game 1 of the 1969 World Series; the only win for Baltimore as they were upset by the New York Mets.
Cuellar won a career-high 24 games in 1970 and again pitched well in the postseason, using his arm and his bat. A career .115 hitter, the Cuban Lefty hit a grand slam in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).
He then closed out the 1970 World Series by beating the powerful Cincinnati Reds in Game 5 at old Memorial Stadium. After falling behind three runs in the first inning, he shut out the Reds on two hits the rest of the game.
Mike threw a gem in his final World Series game, but lost Game 7 in 1971 to the Pittsbugh Pirates, 2-1.
Cuellar finished up with a record of 143-88 with Baltimore and ended his career in 1977 with the California Angels.
A four-time All-Star, Cuellar was 185-130 overall in his career, with a 3.14 ERA. He was voted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.