- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DENVER | It was a rousing return to Pepsi Center for ex-Colorado Avalanche goalie Jose Theodore and a delightful NHL debut for Kyle Wilson.

A 6-1 rout Tuesday of the Avalanche was also the first road victory for the Washington Capitals against a team in the top half of the league standings entering the day since an opening-night victory in Boston.

It was exactly the type of victory against an elite opponent the Caps have been lacking of late, but this impressive destruction of a team that entered the evening one point from the top of the Western Conference was marred by a pair of injuries to key members of the Washington defense corps.

With the Caps ahead 5-0, Colorado’s David Koci hit Mike Green from behind into the boards. Green left the ice with help, and was bleeding from his face. John Erskine picked a fight with Koci while Green was prone on the ice behind the Washington net.

“I didn’t see him coming. It just sucks,” said Green, who was sporting several stitches above his swollen left eye. “It was kind of unnecessary. I was just shaken up and no point in coming back to this one.”

It is fair to say Caps coach Bruce Boudreau was not pleased with the play. Green said he will likely ride a stationary bike tomorrow in Vancouver instead of practice, but he doesn’t expect to miss the next game — Friday against the Canucks.

“Please, the guy [Koci] has one goal in six years. He couldn’t play in the American League,” Boudreau said. “I’ve faced David Koci. He might be a nice guy — I have no idea. I’m glad he’s making a living. Let’s be honest if this was any [other] game he gets on the ice in the 1st 3 minutes, gets into his fight and then he sits at the end of the bench, so what good is he?

“I mean, [for] 15 feet he saw Green’s No. 52 and it didn’t stop him one iota from hitting him in the back and going for his head. I hope they throw the book at him. It was a bush-league hit.”

Koci is the third player in seven games to be ejected for a transgression against the Caps, joining Florida’s Mike Duco and Philadelphia’s Daniel Carcillo. Duco was not suspended for jumping Alexandre Giroux, but Carcillo earned a four-game suspension for his hit on Matt Bradley.

After the game, general manager George McPhee said he is not concerned about the recent rash of incidents against his club.

“It seems like it is becoming a pattern,” David Steckel said. “But [Erskine] stepped up tonight and the other two times our power play stepped up and scored two or three goals. I’m sure the league will look at it.

“I don’t really know what a heavyweight is going to do to deter the situation. It has basically been stupid plays on all three. What are you going to do? Have a guy out there to just take care of stuff like this? Well, [Erskine] took care of it tonight.”

The Caps also lost Shaone Morrisonn to an injury in the second period. He did not take a shift for about 11 minutes during the period, went out for 19 seconds after Green was injured and didn’t play in the final 24 minutes of the game. Boudreau said the injury came from a hit by another questionable hit by Koci, and he is more questionable moving forward than Green.

With Washington down to four healthy defensemen (and Erskine serving 17 minutes in penalties), Brooks Laich spent the third period patrolling the blue line. Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz both took penalties, so for four minutes the Caps had two defensemen that started the game — Schultz or Poti and Karl Alzner.

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