Capitals 4, Lightning 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - St. Pete Times
What the Washington Capitals maybe accomplishing maybe be history in the making. And, for tonight, they did it, 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Now tied with Boston, the Caps are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the playoffs started tomorrow. They jump Philly for that last spot. And for tonight, all looks right.
Alex Ovechkin made it pretty impossible for anyone to doubt his MVP status. Ovie scored two of the biggest goals of his young career and once again getting "M-V-P" cheers from the phone booth faithful (64 and 65 on the year). Add goals by Boyd Gordon and an empty netter from Tom Poti and the Caps keep the pressure on for the playoffs in the east. Cris Huet had another outstanding game, coming up with some killer saves and keeping the Caps in it.
I was actually pretty nervous about this game, the Caps just coming off of an emotional win and Tampa just got embarrassed in Carolina. It was a perfect storm for the Lightning (pun intended) to upset the Caps and keep them on the outside, looking in. The early goal by the Bolts was a bit gut wrenching to take. But, once again Ovie came up with another big game by scoring the tying and eventual game winner goals to keep the Caps hopes alive.
As much fun as it was to see the Caps beat up on the Lightning, it did get a bit too hairy at the end. John Tortorella is a good coach, and I think it's awesome he will be coaching team USA upcoming in the Worlds, but he was totally classless sending out his goons with seconds left in the game. Their tough guy took on a skilled player in Tomas Fleischmann (definitely not a fighter) all for standing up for Vinny Lecavalier who honestly was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Matt Cooke's hit on Lecavalier wasn't a dirty one, just an unfortunate one. It made for some interesting drama in the end, with Donald Brashear waving on the entire Lightning bench. But it was just a sad sight to see the Bolts stoop that low.
The Capitals special teams seem to be steaming right along. They were perfect on the penalty kill (4 for 4) and were 1 for 5 on the powerplay. They were disallowed a goal just 90 seconds after the Bolts opened the scoring because of "second hand" goaltending interference (Tomas Fleischmann pushed a defender into Ramo). I thought Karri Ramo was too far out of crease for that be called, but the Caps got the benefit of the same call in the last game against Carolina, so I can't complain too much.
Caps need some help in a big way, they aren't going to get much from Ottawa as they creamed the Maple Leafs and keep themselves in the playoff picture by just their fingernails. However they do have to play Boston, and that will be an interesting game that could decide the Caps fate. Then there is Philly to watch and Carolina could still lose against Florida. It's enough to make your head spin.
But first and for most, the Caps need a win against Florida if they want any chance of making the big dance. That would give them 94 points. If Boston, Philadelphia, and Carolina lose their remaining games in regulation, the Caps are in. Ovechkin surpassed Luc Robitaille's single season record of goals. The Caps have won six games in a row, the most since January, 2001.