Alex Ovechkin returns from his two-game, league-enforced suspension. His return meant a winner in Tampa Bay for the Capitals and a goal to put him back in the swing of things. Just a few thoughts on the game tonight.
- Ovechkin's goal was pretty, but the pass by Nick Backstrom to the Cap's top scorer was even more impressive. Nick passed it off the boards past the Bolt defense to Ovechkin in full stride past them. Before anyone in a Tampa jersey knew the better, Ovi was in on Antero Nittymaki and made good on his held shot to beat the goaltender. Backstrom has been on fire for the Caps as he has accumulated 8 points in this last four games (3g, 5a). If Backstrom directly passes to Ovi, it's picked off. Ricocheting the puck off the boards, he catches Ovechkin onside and the puck is in the net.
- Tomas Fleischmann is probably the most underrated player on the Caps. His numbers aren't sky rocketing, but he is quickly making a name for himself in the league. Tonight he finished off a pretty passing play for the game's opening tally. Flash will sometimes cough up the puck, but tonight he made up for Martin St. Louis stealing the puck from him by picking his pocket afterward.
- David Steckel loves to play the Lightning. Tonight he was sort of the quiet guy that made the difference. He had a secondary assist on Flash's goal and drew the penalty after Steve Downie punched him to try and goad him into something. Steckel didn't retaliate and the end result is a hard earned two points from a divisional foe.
- Speaking of Downie, here is a guy who should just get an automatic two minute penalty for being an idiot. Downie tried to get under the Caps skin rather than playing the game. For the most part, he seemed to be getting away with it. That was until hockey karma caught up with him with less than two minutes left in the game when he tried to goad Steckel into a fight or penalty by punching him in the face. Just not smart.
- Jose Theodore had a great game. So did Nittymaki for that matter. Both goaltenders really could not be blamed for the their goals against. Saying that, Theo just came up with save after save after as the Capitals clung to a one goal lead. He made 33 saves in route to the game's number one star. Well deserved.
- Congratulations to Scott Walker on being the only Capital not named Matt Bradley or John Erskine to drop the gloves this season. I kid of course, but his fight with Zenon Konopka did seem to spark both teams and set the tone for the game. This was a dirty game, a lot of swings thrown on both teams and some nasty talk and unsportsmanlike candor to this one. All in all, one of the more entertaining games from a nasty physical standpoint the Caps have played all year.
Their lead in the East has grown to 16 points over the second place team Pittsburgh. And wouldn't you know it, they face off on Wednesday night. All eyes will be on Verizon Center as these two teams duke it out in their last regular season meeting. Should be a good one.