Capitals 5, Thrashers 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post
If you are a Caps fan, you basically went through every emotion you could muster in this important game for the Capitals as they took on their divisional foes Atlanta Thrashers. There was happiness as Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring in the first period. Thrilled when Cris Huet made save after save. Disgust and frustration as they allowed a power play goal early in the second. Horror as the Thrashers took the lead on a shorthanded goal. Sadness and anger when the Thrashers built a two goal lead in late in the second and it carried to midway in the third. Proud as Ovie scored his 60th goal, becoming the first player in 12 years to accomplish the mark. Hopeful as Nick Backstrom knocked in the tying goal. Elated when he put in the game winner just 30 seconds later. Giddiness as Boyd Gordon slapped home the empty netter. Relief that the Capitals are still in the playoff race.
As I am watching all of this, my wife is sitting next to me in disgust at every emotion I showed, celebrating with them when they started strong, yelling at them when all seemed lost. She thought I was going to cry by the end of the game (to be honest I damn near did). The Capitals looked as if Kari Lehtonen had gotten the best of them again. But they kept shooting, they kept pressing. In the end they outshot the Thrashers 44-18 including a 22-2 barrage of shots in the third period.
Ovie scored his 59th and 60th goals and added a couple of assists to get his team back in it (4 point night, and was a +4). Ovechkin was on the ice for all 5 goals. Nick Backstrom scored a pair that included the game tying goal and the game winner just 32 seconds apart to be exact (3 point night). Add a Boyd Gordon empty netter and the Caps pull their 5th win in their last six games. Mike Green added two assist and even Huet got into the offense with an assist himself.
While Backstrom scored two of the biggest goals of the season, Ovie played his best "play making" game of the year. He knew the Thrashers were going to double up on him late in the game to keep him from taking over. Ovie recognized it and was able to dish off several pucks to open shooters like Backstrom in front of the net.
Alex Semin spent most of the game on his butt, as the Thrashers took just about every opportunity to put the crafty forward down to the ice. He looked a little in slow motion, but that is how you should play against a stickhandler like Semin; knock him off the puck.
The Dizzy Birds did play one tough game, but couldn't finish it out. Again the Caps defense did come up big, not allowing Blueland's best line to score, even when the Thrash had the momentum. Ilya Kovalchuk was held without a point and was a -3.
Special teams does need some work though, as the Caps allowed a goal both on the penalty kill and the power play. All of the Capitals' goals came at even strength. They were able to stay out of the penalty box after Quintin Laing's hooking call and Matt Bradley showed some extreme discipline early as he was being harassed by Boris Valabik. Bradley kept his gloves on after being goaded into a fight by the large Valabik and that helped the Caps get the early lead.
The Caps must continue this streak to the end of the season now that it looks like both Philly and Boston are catchable teams. They are now just a point from 8th place Boston as Philadelphia won tonight and jumped over the Bruins for 7th. The Caps once again leap frog Buffalo for ninth place as they are on the verge and it's making for some great drama down the stretch. The Caps will not play out of their division for the rest of the season so it's these last games are pivotal for them making the post season.
For now it's a good win against a strong foe.