Big TwigPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
“Au” is the chemical symbol for gold, and on Tuesday against the Islanders in New York, Caps center Keith Aucoin certainly had a golden touch. Aucoin had three assists to post the first three-point game of his NHL career. Playing mostly on a line with Mike Knuble and Joel Ward, Aucoin shone brightly throughout the night, having a hand in three of Washington’s four goals in a 5-4 shootout win over the Islanders. “Our line played pretty good all night,” said Aucoin in the aftermath of his three-assist efforts. “We cycled the puck really well, and we got a lot of pucks to the net. When we got the puck in deep, we were successful. Those two guys – Wardo and Knuble – deserve a lot of credit. They worked hard, too. It was a good night for myself, but for the team as well.” Aucoin used his unusually long stick -- it looks more like a canoe paddle than a hockey stick at times -- to force the turnover that led to Washington’s first goal, a deflection tally from Knuble in the second period. That key goal came just 28 seconds after the Isles had forged a 3-0 lead. “He’s using a long twig for a guy his size,” says Caps coach Dale Hunter, “but it takes real skill to handle that when they’re that long.” Aucoin added two more helpers in the third, one on a Dmitry Orlov tally and the other on Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying tally. On the Ovechkin goal, Aucoin extended his long twig to corral a chip from Ward, then fed Ovechkin on the left side for the goal. “Sometimes it comes in handy when you have the long stick,” says Aucoin. “I’m 5’8”, so I try to make myself 6’2” or 6’3” with the stick. It works out sometimes, I’ve tried to go shorter, but I can do anymore. It works out good for me.” On Tuesday, it worked out for the Caps as well. After going scoreless in his first seven games with Washington this season, Aucoin has totaled two goals and seven points in his last eight games. He has logged less than 15 minutes in each of his 15 games with the Caps this season, but he skated a single-game season high of 14:51 in Tuesday’s game on Long Island. “The Aucoin line played unbelievable today,” said Ovechkin after the game. “Knuble, Wardo and [Aucoin] did an unbelievable job. They probably [get the] gold star.” Gold star, gold coin. Something like that.
It’s warm here in Winnipeg and the days remaining on the 2011-12 regular season NHL calendar are rapidly dwindling. Washington has a dozen games left, and it is now three points behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Southeast Division. The Caps are currently occupying eighth place in