Post-game thoughts

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Not only did the Washington Capitals stop an eight-game winning streak for the New Jersey Devils with a 5-2 win at a mostly solemn Prudential Center, they also extended their lead for second place in the Eastern Conference to three points. Here are some post-game tidbits after the Caps collected their third straight win:

* Bruce Boudreau said Viktor Kozlov’s injury is minor and keeping him out the last 40 minutes was only a precaution. The Caps played with 11 forwards and Boudreau had a lot of juggling to do.

* Michael Nylander had his first two-goal game since an 8-6 win against Ottawa in December of 2007. Don’t look now, but he’s got four goals and eight points in the past nine games he’s played in. He said after the game that he feels he’s playing the same way, but it certainly seems like he’s standing out more in recent games.

“The last few games he’s picked it up and that’s good,” Boudreau said. “If we can get Michael playing the way he is used to playing, that makes us a dangerous team offensively.”

* Mike Green continues to be on a tear. He added another backdoor power-play goal and an assist to give him 16 and 42 on the season — both are now tops in the NHL for defensemen. No Caps defenseman has ever led the league in points at the position outright (Sergei Gonchar was tied for tops once) but Green is now — despite missing 13 games with a shoulder injury.

* The words Boudreau used to describe the power play — “great and stinky at the same time” and “opportunistic but not great.” Yeah, that about sums it up perfectly.

* Scott Clemensen has been great holding down the fort with Martin Brodeur out, but he’s had better nights.

* That’s three straight strong games for Eric Fehr, who could have had two goals earlier in the game before potting the empty-netter. Was it justice?

“You could look at it that way,” he said. His spot in the lineup could be on a game-by-game basis, but he’s certainly earned a fourth straight contest with a sweater in his stall.

* The Caps are now 5-1-3 against the other four teams in the NHL that have at least 65 points.

“To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Donald Brashear said. “We thought they are one of the best teams in the league right now, and it was a great test. We’ve got to go through a lot of teams like that to get ready for the playoffs.”

* Jamie Langenbrunner scored again for the Devils and now has seven in four games. He did also take the penalty that led the Caps’ second goal.

* Alex Ovechkin had more assists (2) than shots (1). It is the lowest shot total of the season for No. 8, but he did move back to within one point of Sidney Crosby for second place in the NHL scoring race.

* Jose Theodore stopped 32 of 34 shots as he continues to keep playing well. Expect him to continue to dominate the workload — especially if Brent Johnson misses any significant amount of time.

* Finally, by winning in regulation tonight the Caps clinched the tiebreaker against the Devils by going 2-0-2 in the season series (the Devils were 2-2). That could come in handy if this race for the second seed stays tight. It would mean home ice advantage in the second round against New Jersey, though it is hard to imagine the Devils having much of one after seeing all the empty seats here tonight.

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