Capitals 2, Thrashers 1
In the previous 4 meetings, the Washington Capitals and Atlanta Thrashers played a wide open, end to end, aggressive games. But this time it was more of a thoughtful defensive battle between the two divisional foes with playoff implications on the line for the Thrash. But even a change of pace couldn't stop the Caps from closing in on a season sweep of the dizzy birds, defeating them for a 5 straight game 2-1.
Nick Backstrom would score his 30th goal of the season as he deflected a Mike Green point shot in on net. Matt Bradley scored the game winner and his ninth of the season. Semyon Varlamov played pretty solid in net as the Caps defense smothered the Thrasher's offense for the most part.
Unlike their previous meetings, the Caps and Thrashers played a tight defensive game. It was intense and hard fought, with very little chances either way. It would until the last minute in the first period for the Caps to open the scoring. Alex Ovechkin worked the puck out of the corner finding Green on the blue line. Green let a slapper fly and Backstrom was there at the side of the crease to knock in the shot behind Ondrej Pavelec.
The Thrashers would come back to tie the game late in the second period. They drew in the Caps defense along the side boards and as Tom Poti pinched in and Shaone Morrisonn miss read the play in front of him allowing Tim Stapleton an open look at the net. He shot it up high over Varlamov's glove and the Thrashers make it a game.
In the third period, it would be an unlikely hero for the Caps. Bradley shouldered away veteran Chris Chelios and went to the front of the net, slipping the puck under Pavelec. Once the Caps got the win, the Thrashers found it hard to get any kind of momentum going as the Caps started to clamp down defensively on the visiting team.
Varlamov had a good solid game. He got the confidence booster type of game where he felt the puck enough to feel involved in the Caps' win. He even took a couple of shots off his mask as the Thrashers tried to beat him high.
Colby Armstrong did make any friends at Verizon Center when he tried to decapitate Mathieu Perreault with his elbow. Perreault was able to duck in time, but was still pretty shaken up after the play. The officials missed the attempt at Perreault's life by Armstrong and he only got a two minute minor after Shaone Morrisonn grabbed him and both were shown the sin bin for roughing.
The Caps did a great job against a team hungry for a playoff spot. They will face the Thrashers one more time as well as the Boston Bruins twice as both teams are trying to gobble as many points as possible to get into the playoffs. Both teams were working hard and it was nice to see the Caps step up and played well. Contributions from someone other than the top two lines was good to see.
Ovechkin failed to add any goals for his bid of the Rocket Richard trophy. He added a point to get a tad bit closer to Henrik Sedin for the Art Ross and points leader in the league. He still has 5 games left in the season to make his case for some hardware in the off season.