There have been lots of memorable nights for the Washington Capitals in the past 15 months, but this one ranks up near the top of the list. Mike Green did something no NHL defenseman has done in the 92-year history of the league and Michal Neuvirth had a fantastic NHL debut. Toss in the fact that their dads were here to see it (Neuvirth’s whole family was here) and this was a pretty cool evening.
“That’s all really special – those are memories these guys are going to take forever,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I just hope they come down enough to play tomorrow [at Florida].”
Here are a few tidbits from the evening:
* Alex Ovechkin made sure both Green and Neuvirth took a towel-full of shaving cream to the face during their interviews.
* Green has scored in eight straight games — he’s now one game shy of tying the franchise record for any player, which was accomplished by Mike Gartner and Alan Haworth in the mid-80s. He is also the first player to score in eight straight in the NHL since Miro Satan and Teemu Selanne both did it 10 years ago.
The guy now has 22 goals — that’s 36.4 percent more than any other defenseman in the league. To put that in prospective, Alex Ovechkin would need to have 55 goals right now to be that far in front of the Zach Parise and Jeff Carter. Incredible.
Someone asked Boudreau if he deserved some credit for helping Green find his offensive game at this level. The response was a classic Boudreau line:
“Nah, he could have had freakin’ Mickey Mouse coaching him and eventually he was going to be a great hockey player,” Boudreau said. “I’m just glad I’m the one.”
* Boudreau said the guys on the bench didn’t know if they were allowed to go on the ice after Green’s goal, but referee Tom Kowal told him before the game that it was OK and there would be no penalty assessed.
* Neuvirth’s first save was pretty lucky - the shot from Vinny Lecavalier squirted through his legs and just missed the far post. But then Lecavlier had a breakaway midway through the first period and Neuvirth robbed him with a great glove save. That was a quite spectacular “Welcome to the NHL” moment.
“That was just fast and I was lucky,” Neuvirth said. “After that I was just like, ‘Well, I can play at this level.’ ”
As for Neuvirth’s thoughts on the whole experience?
“I still can’t believe this,” Neuvirth said. “This is my best feeling ever.”
He finished the night with 31 saves and certainly didn’t look out of place. Just like Simeon Varlamov, his first foray in the NHL was an unequivocal success.
“He was probably nervous handling the puck in the first 10 seconds, but in that first period — it was not a 3-0 first period — but he kept us in the game,” Boudreau said.
* Boudreau noted that the top line of Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom could have had “five or six goals” in the first period. The second line — the 3 Fs — also had a great game together, which culminated in Tomas Fleischmann’s highlight-reel pass to Eric Fehr for the final goal (Fehr’s fifth goal in six games). The coach said that line will be together again tomorrow night in Sunrise, Fla.
* Semin had a great goal, a couple of did-he-just-do-that stickhandling moves and a hooking penalty in the first period. Let’s call that the Alexander Semin Hat Trick from now, eh?