- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2005

The Washington Capitals have played six games this season and rookie sensation Alex Ovechkin has at least one point in each of them — a club record.

If only the whole team was playing nearly as well.

Team Rebuilding took another one on the chin last night, this time a 5-3 defeat from the New York Islanders, and fell to 2-4 on the season. The Caps were outshot by another lopsided margin (49-29), exposing backup goalie Brent Johnson to the same barrage starter Olie Kolzig has experienced all season. Johnson didn’t help himself very much, at least at the start.

But that wasn’t the topic of the brief players-only meeting that followed. It was to point out some of the obvious errors the young, rebuilding team is making and to emphasize that the errors are correctable, according to captain Jeff Halpern.

“I think the biggest thing is not to lose a lot of the confidence we had to start,” Halpern said. “Some of the mistakes we keep making are fixable. They’re definitely things that need to be worked on. It’s a question of going out and doing it instead of talking about it.

“Again, at times we did a great job but it’s giving up chances and giving up some things we don’t need to, that we shouldn’t be doing. There were a lot of things that need to be said … but everybody pretty much holds themselves accountable in all situations.”

The first to own up to mistakes was Johnson, who failed to stop either of the first two shots he faced and then allowed a short-handed score when his teammates let New York come down on a 2-on-1 for a very quick 3-0 lead. It was too much for this team to overcome, at least now.

“I think the big story for tonight’s game is our team was giving up 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s, and that’s all part of it,” Halpern said. “We gave up a short-handed goal, but I thought we did a good job clawing back into it.”

Washington did get two goals from right wing Matt Bradley, his first two-goal game, and got a goal and assist from defenseman Steve Eminger, his first two-point night.

But Ovechkin continued his fine play, last night displaying remarkable energy as he was double-shifted from very early in the game, especially after center Andrew Cassels left with an injured ankle when he was hit by a puck. Ovechkin skated with intensity and determination and did not seem bothered at all by the extra work load. He was on the ice for more than 25 minutes, his longest night of work to date.

He assisted on Bradley’s first goal to give him four goals, three assists and seven points in his first six NHL games. The club record for consecutive games with points by a rookie was four — jointly held by Ryan Walter (1978) and Milan Novy (1982). Ovechkin gets a chance to extend the record against Tampa Bay at home Sunday night.

Starting Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro was taken out of the game at 8:51 of the second after Jeff Halpern accidentally ran him over. He was replaced by Garth Snow.

Notes — Left wing Matt Pettinger and defensemen Nolan Yonkman and Bryan Muir were the healthy scratches last night. … Going into last night’s game the Caps were averaging more than 23 penalty minutes a game, second most in the league. That had cost the team 13 power-play goals against. … Caps defenseman Brendan Witt and the Islanders’ Arron Asham fought in the first period last night — noteworthy only because that was Witt’s first fight in nearly two years to the day. His last opponent was Rob DiMio. … DiPietro’s backup last night, Snow, is at least partly responsible for the shrinkage this season in goalie’s equipment. He was famed in the past for showing up with, for instance, shoulder pads that closely resembled wings on an airplane. He wore sweaters that looked like a collection of beach towels and pants that might easily accommodate two men.



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