The newest additions to Washington’s roster made general manager George McPhee look pretty good in their first game with the team.
The new-look Capitals will try to make up more ground in the playoff race on Saturday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Washington (30-27-8) improved to 3-1-2 over its last six games on Friday, beating Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey 4-0. Cristobal Huet, acquired Tuesday in a trade deadline deal with Montreal, stopped 18 shots in his Capitals debut, giving Washington its second shutout and first since Oct. 6.
Sergei Fedorov, acquired Tuesday in a trade with Columbus, also had a successful debut, picking up an assist on a no-look pass to help break a scoreless tie. The 38-year-old center had nine goals and 19 assists for the Blue Jackets.
“When George made the trades, he made them for real professionals and experienced guys who knew what it took to (step) in,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “These guys were just as advertised.”
Some questioned the Capitals for picking up Huet for a 2009 second-round draft pick because it left Washington with three goalies. Olaf Kolzig, 22-19-6 with a 2.98 goals-against average, backed up Huet on Friday, while Brent Johnson didn’t make the trip.
The shutout was Huet’s third of the season. However, neither he nor Kolzig have fared particularly well against Toronto in the past—Huet is 3-4-1 with a 3.44 GAA in nine appearances against the Maple Leafs, while Kolzig is 13-15-0 with four ties and a 3.19 GAA in 33 games.
“It was an ideal start, I would say,” Huet said. “We can’t stop here. We have a tough schedule ahead. It’s a good team win.”
Alexander Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 48 goals, also picked up an assist, but extended his goal drought to a career-worst seven games. He has 10 goals and four assists in 11 games against the Maple Leafs.
The Capitals are three points behind Carolina for first place in the Southeast Division with two games in hand.
“I just want to be as young as these guys are and bring the same energy,” Fedorov said. “I don’t want to draw any focus from what they have done before.”
Washington has won four of its last five home games against Toronto (28-28-10).
The Maple Leafs moved within five points of the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay. Alex Steen and Jason Blake had third-period goals to help Toronto pick up a crucial point.
“Our guys fought hard and competed hard, and played their best period in the third when we were down and got an important point,” coach Paul Maurice said.
The Maple Leafs had won three straight and five of six coming into the game.
“The second intermission we were just talking about getting going and how important this game is for us,” Steen said. “I thought we came out with some urgency in the third and did a good job.”
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