- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2008

Matt Bradley told Bruce Boudreau he would score in the shootout, but the Washington Capitals coach continued to pick other shooters.

Bradley finally got his chance in the 12th round and made good on his assertion, netting the lone goal in the second-longest shootout in team history and helping the Caps to a 5-4 victory against the Edmonton Oilers last night at Verizon Center.

“I told him that I would score, but he kept picking other guys. I don’t know if either of us believed it,” said Bradley, who is now 1-for-2 in his career in the one-on-one format. “I was just hoping that I would get to go before [backup goalie] Brent Johnson.”

Added Boudreau: “He didn’t even let me say, ‘Don’t go,’ [before the 12th round.] He said, ‘Put me out there. I am going to score,’ and he jumped over the boards. He went in, did a great move and scored. It was fabulous. I think you need guys that are going to go out there and not hope they are going to score but know they are.”

Bradley lost control of the puck momentarily but corralled it in time to flip a backhanded attempt past Edmonton goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Caps netminder Olie Kolzig — who had been beaten 50 percent of the time this season in the shootout (seven of 14) — sealed the victory and his 12-for-12 performance by turning aside a slap shot from defenseman Sheldon Souray.



It was the Caps’ first victory in a shootout this season and first in eight tries dating to last season. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign, Washington had lost 13 of 14 one-on-one contests.

That made a shootout victory against Edmonton even more improbable. Despite their modest overall record, the Oilers have been the kings of the shootout in the NHL this season, compiling an 11-2 record before last night.

“You think I didn’t know that?” Boudreau said. “During the overtime I was telling them, ‘Boys jump into the play. Let’s go for it.’ We hadn’t had the success in the shootout that they’d had, and we didn’t really want to get to that.”

It was Washington’s sixth win in eight games. Coupled with Carolina’s loss to Ottawa and Atlanta’s shootout loss to Montreal, the victory moved the Caps within four points of the Southeast Division lead.

Kolzig credited part of the success to the team practicing the format during Monday’s workout at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, saying it helped him with his timing.

“I still don’t like [shootouts],” Kolzig said. “Believe me, I knew they were the best team in the league. I was hoping we would score in overtime or at the end of the third period. I won’t lie to you.”

It was a pretty wild game even before the bonus hockey. Washington scored all four of its goals in the second period. After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Caps struck quickly to open the second.

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored 38 seconds apart early in the period to tie the game. Backstrom’s goal, his ninth, came on a rebound from Jeff Schultz’s point shot, and Ovechkin netted his 35th after a long breakout pass from Schultz and then a drop pass from Boyd Gordon.

After Edmonton went back ahead, defenseman Mike Green scored his NHL-best 14th of the year (for defensemen). Alexander Semin capped a furious 20 minutes with a bad-angle tally with 51.1 seconds left.

It was Semin’s 10th of the season and eighth in his past 11 games, but Edmonton’s Shawn Horcoff added his second of the night in the third period to force overtime.

Despite the regulation goal scorers being the four cornerstones of the franchise — Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green — it was clearly Bradley’s night.

“I am sure we won’t hear the end of it tomorrow,” Green said. “He already said he will be running a clinic before practice.”

Caps report

Last night at Verizon Center

QUOTABLE

“I would love to say I went toe-to-toe with [Wayne] Gretzky. I would love to say I played against him, and I probably have told a few lies and said I did because no one remembers back that far.”

— Caps coach Bruce Boudreau on never playing against Edmonton during his career

BY THE NUMBERS

3.33 Goals a game scored by the Washington Capitals in 24 games for coach Bruce Boudreau before last night, which would rank second in the league to Ottawa over the whole season.

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