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Capitals turn out Laich on Bruins 04.05.10 at 10:12 pm ET
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Summary ‘€“ Brooks Laich poked in a loose rebound just 44 seconds into overtime as the Washington Capitals claimed a 3-2 overtime win against the Bruins at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Monday night.

The game-winning goal came on the power play as Dennis Wideman was whistled for a high-sticking penalty just 24 seconds into the five-minute overtime.

Alex Ovechkin assisted on the power play score, as the Bruins moved just one point ahead of the eighth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins had to play the game without defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who skated in pre-game but couldn’t make a go of it after taking 15 stitches to close a gash in his left wrist on Saturday in Toronto.

Considering the Bruins faced the top-scoring team in the NHL on their home ice and without a top-four defenseman, their effort was as much about courage as it was execution.

And they were just mere millimeters away from a one-goal lead after a 20 minutes.

Niklas Backstrom’s shot trickled by Tuukka Rask at 7:36 of the first period. Wideman came to the rescue but just a half-second late as the puck was ruled to have cleared the goal line for a 1-0 Capitals lead. Alex Ovechkin fed Backstrom across the slot to set up the score.

The scoring chances were again plentiful for the Bruins and it seemed for the first 19 minutes, 58.4 seconds of the opening period, they would be frustrated again.

But with 1.6 seconds left, it was Wideman of all people, who blasted a slap shot past Jose Theodore to tie the game.

Prior to that goal, the Bruins spent the final 60 seconds of the first period in the Washington zone, peppering Theodore.

And just after Backstrom’s goal, Michael Ryder had three great chances from close in but couldn’t finish.

The Bruins picked themselves up off the mat with 1.6 seconds left in the first period to tie the game going into intermission with some valuable momentum.

This time – with 28.8 seconds to go in the second – the Caps took that momentum away with a goal from Mike Knuble, who crashed Tuukka Rask. For Knuble, it was his 47th of the season for the Capitals, making it 2-2 after two periods.

The goal was originally credited to Knuble then changed to Ovechkin and then back to Knuble. Ovechkin has two assists tonight.

Since Wideman scored late in the first, the Bruins appeared to be energized. That was apparent when Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic crashed Jose Theodore, with Bergeron stuffing one past the Washington goalie for his 19th of the season.

Three Stars

Alex Ovechkin ‘€“ One of the most skilled players in the world showed why you don’t have to score to dominate. Ovechkin did precisely that by commanding extra defensive attention on a depleted team that could ill afford the luxury. He made them pay by assisting on all three goals.

Patrice Bergeron ‘€“ He, along with linemate Milan Lucic seemed re-energized since Michael Ryder was placed on the checking line. Both rushed the net frequently, putting pressure on Jose Theodore, getting rewarded in the second when Bergeron scored his 19th to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

Dennis Wideman ‘€“ Yes, he was called for an overtime high-stick that was embellished with theatrics that led to the game-winner by Laich, but Wideman all night seemed to be in the right place, if not the right time. His cannon of a shot past Theodore with 1.6 seconds left in first period, tied the game.

Key play ‘€“ Brook Laich’s game-winner. Alexander Semin, who escaped a high-sticking call on Zdeno Chara in the second period, took a shot from the left circle. But Rask couldn’t contain and Laich was there to put it back and give Washington a remarkable 116 points on the season.

Turning point ‘€“ David Krejci’s near miss in final minute. The forward fired wide on Theodore who was late to slide over, otherwise it’s the Bruins who skate out of the national capital with their most satisfying win of the season.

Read More: Bruins, Capitals, NHL, NHL power rankings
NHL Power Rankings: The injuries are piling up 11.04.09 at 9:47 am ET
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The bodies are beginning to pile up in the NHL, and injuries have taken their toll on the power rankings. Days after CBC analyst and former Bruins coach Don Cherry ominously warned that somebody might just target Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin for his consistently chippy play, the Caps’ magic man went down with an upper-body injury that has him out at least two weeks.

The Red Wings are missing rented mule Johan Franzen and key puck-moving defenseman Brian Rafalski. Jonathan Toews is out with a concussion, and Marian Hossa has been gone all season for the Blackhawks. Ilya Kovalchuk has the most talked-about broken foot in the NHL this season along with the “Will he or won’t he?” intrigue with his $100 million contract extension talks.

The Devils have been without Patrik Elias all season, and the Penguins are soldiering on without their quicker-minutes-picker-upper defenseman Sergei Gonchar and big center Evgeni Malkin. And, of course, the Bruins are a smoldering, charred version of themselves offensively without Marc Savard and Milan Lucic. Phil Kessel is one of the newly healthy bodies now, though, and he tantalized the Maple Leafs crowd Tuesday night with a 23-minute, 10-shot performance in his Toronto debut.

Without further ado, here are WEEI.com’s NHL power rankings:

1. 12-3-0 (1, last week). The Penguins share the lead for the most goals in the NHL (52), sit a perfect 7-0 away from the friendly frozen confines of home and have survived the last few games without a dinged up Evgeni Malkin. Pittsburgh is tied with the 1940 Leafs, 1985 Flyers and 2005 Red Wings for the most consecutive road wins to start a season. Good stuff.

2. 10-3-2 (2) The Avs dropped a pair of road games to the Sharks and the Canucks last week, but they also played 11 of their first 15 games on the road this season. So they get a hall pass from Haggs. Still the best story in the NHL thus far this season. Ryan O’Reilly is something special at 18 years old and leads Colorado with a plus-10.

3. 10-4-1 (9) Five straight wins for the Sharks including an impressive defeat of the surprise Avalanche. Patrick Marleau has 11 goals and has scored in eight straight games. Perhaps teams should strip their captains of the letter on their sweater more often. Hmmm.

4. 8-2-4 (5) No Ovechkin, no problem. The Russian star is out “week-to-week” after appearing to hurt his arm in Washington’s overtime loss to the Blue Jackets, but there still is plenty to rest on during Ovie’s absence. The Caps will be just fine.

5. 9-4-2 (7) Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth give the Kings a legit “Crown Line” for the first time in recent memory. Kopitar entered Wednesday leading the NHL with 24 points and has a chance to distance himself from the pack with Ovechkin’s injury.

6. 9-6-1 (4) Attention, NHL bargain hunters! Vaclav Prospal sits in the NHL’s top 10 in scoring and ranks third with his 14 assists while setting up Marian Gaborik, and he’s making only $1.15 million this season. That, friends, is a cap-friendly player.

7. 8-4-1 (3)  The Blackhawks did an admirable job of surviving without Marian Hossa for the entire month of October and Jonathan Toews for the last week with concussion-like symptoms. They’re still leading the Central Division but play eight of their 12 November games on the road in a pretty solid test. Read the rest of this entry »

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NHL Power Rankings: Are the Avs for real? 10.29.09 at 10:12 am ET
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A month into the NHL season things have begun to settle into a pattern, and observers can begin to decipher which teams are for real and which teams are simply pretenders not yet exposed by the NHL iron. The Colorado Avalanche, with 18-year-old wunderkinds Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene providing the youthful pluck,  have earned themselves the unquestioned title of Western Conference surprise story — and continue to pile up wins and respect against solid competition.

Plenty of attention has been paid to formerly anonymous Bruins backup goaltender Craig Anderson, who was loaned to the B’s from the Blackhawks organization in 2006-07 with Boston in dire need of goaltending behind Tim Thomas. Hannu Toivonen went down with an ankle injury early in the season, and the B’s went through Anderson, Joey MacDonald, Phillip Sauve and Brian Finley while riding Tim the Tank down the stretch during the one and only forgettable year of the Dave Lewis Era.

After playing the backup to Tomas Vokoun with the Panthers last season, Anderson has started every one of Colorado’s games on this young season and been the best goaltender in the NHL through the first month. The 28-year-old is 9-1-2 with a .940 save percentage and a 1.47 goals against average while backup netminder Peter Budaj has battled the effects of the swine flu. 

Are the Avs for real? They’ll play Calgary, San Jose and the Blackhawks twice in the span of two weeks, and there should be plenty more answers when those ice chips settle down.

Without further ado, here are WEEI.com’s NHL power rankings:

1. 10-2-0 (1, last week). The Penguins finally dropped another game to the Devils last week, but there isn’t much that’s even a glint in the eye of the NHL’s ultimate tag team, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Triple Extra Large props to young defenseman Alex Goligoski, who signed a three-year deal with Pittsburgh this summer and has stepped into the puckmoving role with Sergei Gonchar out of commission. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fluery is quietly off to the best start of his young career. Still no reason to boot them from their perch atop the league’s power rankings.

 2. 10-1-2 (8) I finally believe in the power of the Avs. The Rocky Mountain hockey bunch haven’t lost in regulation in their last nine games. The miraculous Avs current run dates back to Oct. 8. Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene have the rookie energy thing cornered, and both Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny are enjoying red-hot starts to the season. Perhaps the best kept secret on the team? Defenseman Kyle Quincey might be the best waiver pickup of the last two seasons as he was dropped by the Red Wings in 2007-08, and is playing over 25 minutes per game for the Avs along their blueline.  

3.7-3-1 (2)  No Jonathan Toews and no Brent Seabrook (concussion symptoms)? No problem. The Blackhawks have reeled off a pair of wins since losing both of their core players, and the Brothers Patrick (Sharp and Kane) have been pacing Chicago’s offense. Even the ever-shaky Cristobal Huet has jumped into the act and allowed one goal or less in three of his last four outings between the pipes. Read the rest of this entry »

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