- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 9, 2006

At their current pace, the Anaheim Ducks are projected to lose eight games during the regular season before the playoffs start next spring. That would count as the best record in the NHL since the league decided to ban ties.

Last night Washington learned why the Ducks have the best record in the league after Anaheim methodically wiped out the Capitals 6-1 in Verizon Center.

Shawn Thornton, an enforcer brought in yesterday from Portland, Maine, and the American Hockey League, scored off a turnover less than a minute into the game and the Caps played catch-up for the next 59 minutes.

The Caps’ four-game winning streak was ended as were a few personal streaks. Alexander Semin scored on a power play in the third for Washington’s only goal.

The win was Anaheim’s seventh in its last eight games. The Ducks (22-3-6) didn’t lose in regulation for their first 16 games this season and since then have dropped games only to Calgary, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Anaheim is an incredible 9-1-2 on the road this season.

“I don’t think it was our best effort but at the same time they only have three losses and it’s not for just any reason,” Caps center Brian Sutherby said. “They’re a very good club. We fell behind 2-0 on some hard luck and any time you fall behind like that you’re chasing all night.”

Washington was not at its best and didn’t play with the precision it displayed during its four-game streak. But it did not play as badly as it did a few weeks back when it was winless in six.

“They played very disciplined,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “It looked at times as if we were lethargic but it wasn’t. We were up for the game and ready, we just couldn’t get the puck back.”

The Ducks foiled every maneuver the Caps tried. Anaheim operated with the authority and precision of an in-tune military machine. They are a big, fast, well-drilled team that gets balanced scoring and is not afraid to stand up for itself — all the things the Caps aspire to be.

Thornton scored 57 seconds after the start of the game when Dainius Zubrus turned the puck over deep in his own zone. Thornton came out of the corner untouched, went to the front of the net and backhanded the first shot of the game over Olie Kolzig’s shoulder.

Nearly 15 minutes into the first, Kolzig committed an uncharacteristic error. He went to clear a puck from behind the cage but only topped it, leaving Todd Marchant perhaps the easiest goal of his career. It was the game-winner.

Teemu Selanne later scored, his 17th goal and 33rd point against Washington in 21 career games.

Semin scored when he swept around Jean-Sebastien Giguere and put the puck away to give him points in five straight games. The initial feed came from Alex Ovechkin, who fed Semin with a no-look pass that he shot between his legs.

The game was unusual in at least one respect. In the “new” NHL when fighting is not as common as it once was, there were three bouts last night, none of which appeared to settle anything. The first two fights came within 1:12 of each other, both in the first three minutes of the game.

Notes — Defenseman Jamie Heward (facial lacerations) and right wing Richard Zednik (groin) were the medical scratches. Heward is skating by himself but there is no indication when either will be back in action. Center Jakub Klepis was the healthy scratch. …

Ovechkin’s only NHL hat trick came against the Ducks in Anaheim last season; two nights later he scored what is now commonly referred to as “The Goal” against the Coyotes in Phoenix.

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