The Washington Times - March 17, 2009, 11:04PM

This was a weird game to get a handle on as the Caps won their fourth in five games. The stat of the night is Washington gave up ZERO shots on net in the third period. ZERO. NONE. NADA.

It was a great display of defense — the Caps only allowed five attempts (four blocked, one miss) in 20 minutes of hockey. But if you’re the Panthers, how does this happen? The team is down 1-0 after 40 minutes and is sitting in 9th place in the conference and they come up with a Blutarsky?

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“I’ve never been involved in a game where that has happened,” Boudreau said. “It was a great testament to our players and the commitment they made to winning. They proved they can do it when they want to do it.”

There are going to be two versions of my game story floating in either the cyberspace world or the newspaper stands. All I can say is read the later version with quotes. I was probably too harsh in the first one, but I might as well explain. For 7:30 p.m. starts I have to file a story without quotes just as the game ends and then re-file later. Had I more time to been able to write about the shotless third period, that story would have come out different.

Still, this game was a prime example of a gray area and how sometimes people can interpret a game without many goals in different ways.

* The Caps did not draw a penalty in the first two periods. To me, that was two games in a row that the Caps were not working hard enough and hence no PP chances in the first 37 minutes of either game.

Boudreau felt the officials let a couple of infractions slide and was not upset about the effort.

* Jose Theodore only had to make 19 saves in the first 40 minutes, but some were Grade A chances. I may have overestimated that number, but there were still plenty. That seemed to be a lot like the night before, only this time Theodore was stopping everything and bailing out his teammates.

Boudreau and a few of the players felt they played well defensively in the first two periods as well with only a couple of breakdowns.

* It seemed to me like the Caps, save for Sergei Fedorov (who was great in 12 minutes of duty) and Theodore, were drifting through another effort without a lot of passion during much of the first two periods.

Boudreau thought it was a cautious game by both teams with few penalties that had a playoff-like feel.

So I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. If this game didn’t happen one day after the debacle in Atlanta, then maybe it would have been a different take.

Finally, Jay Bouwmeester is very, very good. Any GM who watches the tape of him against Alex Ovechkin tonight will likely be standing in line with a blank check on July 1 when Bouwmeester becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Bouwmeester was on the ice for every even-strength shift for No. 8 through at least the first 50 minutes of the game. He plays nearly half the game most nights, but the Panthers were actually limiting Bouwmeester’s minutes to ensure he was on the ice with Ovechkin at all times.

“He might have been smothered a little – Jay’s always been good on Alex,” Boudreau said. “That’s why you need secondary scoring. When you put your best player – in their case Bouwmeester on Alex – you need those other lines to step it up and play against the guys that aren’t their best player.”