Alex Ovechkin recorded his 52nd and 53rd goals of the season last night, but sans a huge celebration or Alexander Seminin the lineup. The Tampa Bay Lightning said Alex was going to pay for his celebration a week ago, and they went after Ovie all night to try and get their payback. Actually, no they didn’t. In fact they might have stayed away from Ovechkin allowing him to score two goals (one was an empty net) and get two assists. OK that’s enough about the stupid celebration controversy already.
The Capitals dominated on special teams going 3-9 on the powerplay and shut down the Bolts PP four times. In their last four games the Caps only had 2 PP goals on 15 chances. Nicklas Backstrom also recorded two goals, and reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. Brooks Laichalso stepped up with three assists including one on the game-winning goal by Pothier.
The game was tied 3-3 early in the third when Pothier took a feed from Laich on the weak side. He blasted the one-timer that deflected off a Tampa player and into the back of the net. Pothier felt good his first 3 games back, but this huge goal certainly helps the Caps D-man in terms of confidence.
“I had to hold back the emotion a little bit,” Pothier said to the Post. “Just to feel like I’m contributing. It had been a few games. I was feeling like a spare part, but to put one in, an important goal, that was pretty special.”
The Caps also pulled into 2nd place with the win, after the Devils fell to the Blackhawks last night in overtime. The Eastern Conference still has three or four teams that can still make a run for the playoffs. Here’s the Conference standings–NHL.com–the Panthers and the Sabres will look to pull ahead of Montreal.
Washington is only 3 points behind the Conference leading Bruins but they have 3 games in hand on the Caps. There are only 6 more games in the season–3 straight home games followed by 3 away games to close out the season. The Caps will face the Thrashers twice, the Islanders, the Lightning, the Sabres, and the Panthers.
* Nicklas Backstrom *
** Alex Ovechkin **
*** Brian Pothier ***