Mike Green set a franchise record for power play goals by a defenseman with his first goal of the night. The second one was even more significant. Green netted his 30th goal of the season — and it proved to be the game-winning tally for the Caps in a 5-3 victory against the pesky New York Islanders.
It wasn’t the prettiest of efforts, but the Caps got the two points they needed. Here is some more stuff from the aftermath:
* Green promised a childhood friend before the game that he would score for him. The reason — his friend, Kyle Lieske, has Green on his struggling fantasy team.
“Those goals were for him,” Green said.
Green is the eighth defenseman in NHL history to score 30 goals (joining Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque, Dennis Potvin, Kevin Hatcher, Phil Housley and Doug Wilson), and the first since Caps rearguard Kevin Hatcher had 34 in 1992-93. He also has 70 points, which ties Sergei Zubov and Nicklas Lidstrom’s totals from 2005-06 as the most since the lockout.
He now has 18 power-play goals, which is two more than the previous team record for a d-man held by Scott Stevens. He is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the second-most power-play goals by anyone this season — one behind Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and Calgary’s Mike Cammalleri.
Any way you slice it, Green is about to complete the greatest offensive season by a defenseman since the advent of the neutral zone trap. And just think how silly his numbers would look if he hadn’t missed FIFTEEN GAMES this season. At his current pace, he would have 39 goals and 92 points. Considering the amount of scoring in the era, that might be pretty close to comparable to anything Bobby Orr or Paul Coffey produced.
Green was asked if he’s ever been to Las Vegas (yes, last summer) and if he wants to go back (yes, he does). That’s where the Norris trophy will be handed out this summer, and it is pretty hard to think that Green won’t be one of the three finalists at this point.
As for some other non-Green stuff:
* The Caps now have a three-point lead on the floundering New Jersey Devils, who were crushed in Pittsburgh tonight, for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have five games to play, and the Caps have a much easier schedule — at this point, they have to be heavy favorites to finish second.
* The Caps magic number in the Southeast Division is down to one. If the Caps gain one more point in the final five games or if Carolina does not win all of their final five games, Washington will clinch its second straight division title.
* The Caps have also passed the 100-point barrier for the fourth time in franchise history. They need to go 3-1-1 or better to set the franchise record for points in the season (currently 107 by the 1985-86 squad). Remember though, that team couldn’t win shootouts and only played 80 games.
* Keith Aucoin had another fine night, and earned the red hard hat for his effort. As long as Donald Brashear remains out with a knee injury, don’t look for Aucoin to be going back to Hershey. Not that he cares as long as he is collecting an NHL paycheck, but Alexandre Giroux cut his lead in the AHL scoring race to two points tonight.
* Sergei Fedorov had a nice game. He made a perfect pass to Ovechkin for his league-leading 54th goal, and had four shots on net. After the game, Boudreau called him a key to the team and liked what he saw when he paired Fedorov with Ovechkin and Backstrom with Semin.
That’s what he did after Game 3 of the Flyers series, and it worked then too. Don’t be surprised if this wasn’t the last time we see the “19-91 swap,” as it will be known from this point forward.
* Kyle Okposo is really, really good. He was everywhere in the first period. He, Josh Bailey and John Tavares could make a pretty sweet trio someday.
* Finally, The Islanders were about 25 minutes through inducing the Caps into an ugly sleep-walking loss, but then Tim Jackman and Joel Rechlicz decided to start ticking people off. Rechlicz fought John Erskine (and had about three punches in before Erskine even had his gloves off) and then Jackman picked a fight with Jeff Schultz after Green hit Andy Hilbert.
Then both of those guys took dump penalties in the third period that led to goals. Note to Jackman and Rechlicz — being agitators means you ignite YOUR team to play with more passion, not the opposition.
Also, how exactly does Jackman not get a instigator penalty when he fought Schultz? Jackman dropped the gloves, removed Schultz’s helmet and threw a punch before Schultz even dropped his gloves. What else do you have to do? And if the NHL does adopt some rule in the future to make people keep their helmets on during fight, what kind of suspension would the “take off the other guy’s helmet” move warrant?