- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 16, 2006

Matt Pettinger scored in the sudden death portion of a shootout last night, giving the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory over Florida in Sunrise, Fla. The win broke an eight-game losing streak to the Panthers.

“I pretty much knew I needed to do something different,” said Pettinger, who came up empty on a penalty shot in the first period. “The five hole opened up, and I put it there.”

Dainius Zubrus had scored earlier in the shootout, and Olli Jokinen evened it for Florida. Then Pettinger went in and drilled a shot through Jamie McLennan’s legs for the victory.

It was the 41st one-goal game the Caps have been involved in this season. They have won 16.

The night featured a battle of backup goaltenders, with Washington’s Brent Johnson coming out on top. His performance last night, in which he stopped 47 of 48 shots in regulation, and his performance during the last month probably went a long way toward earning his contract for next season.

Florida’s Gary Roberts had scored five minutes into the second, but Caps rookie Alex Ovechkin matched that eight minutes later with his 51st of the season. He went in on a breakaway and calmly approached McLennan before letting go with a forehand. Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn had the key assist.

With just two games left, Ovechkin has no chance to catch the all-time rookie leader, Teemu Selanne. The native of Finland had 76 goals and 132 points for the Winnipeg (now Phoenix) franchise, totals that may never be challenged.

Ovechkin moved him into a tie for third place with Joe Nieuwendyk, who had 51 in his rookie season of 1987-88. Next on the list of rookie goal-scorers is Mike Bossy, who had 53 in his rookie season of 1977-78 with the New York Islanders.

The point Ovechkin picked up last night moved him into a tie for third place with Dale Hawerchuk, who had 103 in his initial season, 1981-82. Next up would be Peter Stastny, who had 109 points in 1980-81.

The 51 goals also put Ovechkin in sole possession of fifth place among the Caps’ single-season leaders. Peter Bondra is next with 52 in two separate seasons.

Among single-season point leaders, Ovechkin is now second all time with 103. Dennis Maruk set the record with 136 in 1981-82, the same season he had 60 goals, also a franchise high.

Washington had 24 shots on goal in the first period, the most in a period this season and the franchise high for one period on the road.

The Caps had a chance to go ahead 17:29 into the first period when Pettinger was awarded a penalty shot when he was hooked by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and denied a shooting opportunity. Pettinger deked one way and went the other, but McLennan poke-checked the puck out of danger.

NOTES — The Caps canceled their practice today at Piney Orchard, meaning the team has had its last practice of the season other than pregame skates. The team worked out at Piney Orchard on Wednesday, its last drill of the season. … Center Brian Sutherby (lower body) and defenseman Jamie Heward (upper body) were medical scratches. The Caps have lost 165 man-games to injury or illness. Before he was injured Thursday night, Heward had an assist in the Atlanta game to give him 28 points in the season, his career high. … Defenseman Ivan Majesky played in his 200th NHL game last night.

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