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Caps on pace for 90-0

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After some shaky moments in the first period, the Caps settled down and dictated the play for most of the final 40 minutes in their 4-1 victory. There was a change in the box score after the first period (hey, it is the preseason for everybody) so Simeon Varlamov stopped 20 shots in the first 20 minutes instead of 18. Washington outshot Carolina 25-11 the rest of the way.

“When you allow 20 shots on goal in the first period, that’s not an indication of playing very well, even if you have a 2-0 lead,” Bruce Boudreau said. “We can thank our lucky stars that Varalamov was so good, or with those chances it could have been 3-2 them.”

* Matt Bradley, annointed captain for the night before the game by Boudreau — “He begged for it,” the coach said — netted the game-winner and ran his record to 1-0 as the team’s captain.

“My record speaks for itself,” Bradley joked. (Alexandre Giroux, sitting next to Bradley, made it clear that he didn’t vote for him). When asked if there was a good ‘Win one for the Gipper’ speech he said, “No, the guys were ready to go. I just basically went out there and do what I do — I got the game-winner.”

* Michael Nylander took a spill in the third period, going shoulder-first into the goalpost, but Boudreau said he is playing tomorrow night at Verizon Center, and no one has said anything to him to the contrary.

* Boudreau said Nicklas Backstrom is available tomorrow night, but he will not play him. He also had said earlier today that new goalie Jose Theodore will not be in the lineup tomorrow for the home preseason opener. Expect to see Michal Neuvirth and a second appearance by Simeon Varlamov.

*If his skating and ability to compete along the wall and in the corners wasn’t enough of a statement on his health, Eric Fehr said after the game that his back feels great. Fehr did take a pair of penalties tonight, though he thought the second one was a little suspect (this author agreed with him but his coach did not).

* The coach was also pleased with his young defensemen. Jeff Schultz logged 23:03 and had three shots on net. Karl Alzner skated 22:00, and that pairing did a nice job in its own end. Boudreau said 18-year-old John Carlson also had a nice debut in his 17:17 of ice time. When pressed on whether Carlson might get another game before returning to London, the coach went all cryptic and coy. If it hasn’t appeared in this space enough yet, the kid has clearly made a great impression these past several days.

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