Caps Come Back from Dead Tonight
It was 3-1 Thrashers with nine minutes to go in the game and the Caps, who were heavily outshooting Atlanta, were on the brink of digging themselves into a major hole in the playoff race. The season was on the brink with the Philadelphia Flyers having just beaten Jaromir Jagr’s Rangers in a shootout, 4-3, and were poised to be four points up on Washington when the Great #8, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, and Viktor Kozlov absolutely took over the game and led Washington to a 5-3 victory over Atlanta and remain only two points behind the Flyers with just six games left (the Flyers have seven games remaining). The Flyers win moved them up to 7th place in the Eastern Conference and the Boston Bruins are now in 8th place just one point up on the Caps. Boston, however, has eight games left (two games in hand on Washington).
Alexander Ovechkin was absolutely incredible tonight scoring two goals (including his 60th of the year- first NHLer to do so in 12 years since Mario Lemieux and Jagr pulled the feat in the 1995-96 season) and adding two assists while the supporting cast of Backstrom (two goals and one assist) and Green (two assists) were outstanding as well. These three guys just refused to let the Caps lose as Coach Bruce Boudreau threw them out on the ice every other shift down the stretch and they finally found ways to solve Atlanta goalie Keri Lehtonen, who was 8-4-2 lifetime against Washington. Ovechkin’s second goal of the game, which cut the lead to 3-2, was a case of Alexander the Great going to the net, outmaneuvering three Thrashers for position, and finishing the play off by knocking in the rebound of Green’s point blast. On the night Washington outshot Atlanta 45-18, including 23-2 in the third period when Ovechkin and his mates refused to be denied.
Ovechkin had nine shots on goal and played just under 26 mintues on the night. Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy are now the only two players in NHL history to score more goals than Ovechkin in their first three years in the league.
This come from behind win was the first time in 50 games (since January 2007) that the Caps won when trailing after two periods and it could not have come at a more important time. Let’s just say that I am sure that the Caps adopted theme song from Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” was blaring after the game in that locker room tonight!
This was an absolute thrill of a win and anyone who watched that finish had to be pumped up seeing Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green just will the Caps to victory. This is one fun team to watch and there are a lot of people rooting for this team get in the playoffs (Jeff Marek of Hockey Night in Canada Radio continues to lead the out of town charge).
Next up for Washington is a huge game in Carolina on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes are five points up on Washington with six games to go. The Caps must find a way to win that one and at least four of the other remaining five games while rooting for the three New York area teams and the Pittsburgh Penguins to sink the Flyers down the stretch.
If you didn’t see tonight’s game live I suggest you turn on the NHL network over the next 12 hours and watch “On the Fly” to see highlights of the contest and interviews with Ovechkin and Boudreau. Every time I think Ovechkin can’t do anything more spectacular he manages to do it again. The highlight reel of superb performances by the Great #8 this season just continues to grow.
I’ll be back with a complete NHL playoff update blog on Sunday night. There are lots of good games this weekend with major playoff implications.