Saturday, March 22, 2008

Caps battle back to earn two points in Atlanta

Capitals 5, Thrashers 3

For better than fifty minutes last night it seemed like the word of the day for Capitals fans would be 'almost' and the Capitals seemed to be on the verge of almost picking up a vital road win, almost keeping themselves in the playoffs race, creating chances that were almost goals and almost catching a break as the Ranger almost did the Caps a favor by (almost) beating the Flyers with a third period comeback of their own. But by the time the final buzzer had sounded, it was clear Caps fans would have a very different word on their minds: resilient.

In the first two games of their road trip the Capitals combined to play one good period - the opening frame in Nashville. The recent mini-slump, while distressing, wasn't particularly surprising given that this team has spent most of this season clawing its way back into contention after it's horrible start to the season. Given the adversity the team has faced while climbing up the standings over the last several months under Bruce Boudreau and the way things had started to go recently it would have been easy for them to come out in the third with a defeatist attitude, accepting that while they had done well to even get in playoff contention they were up against too much this season. Instead the Capitals came out and made a statement, dominating play for the final frame and outshooting the Thrashers 23-2, and in the process sending a message to the rest of the Eastern Conference that they're not ready to give up on this season yet.

DMG's 3 Stars
(1) Alexander Ovechkin - 2 goals, 2 assists, nine shots, +4
(2) Nicklas Backstrom - 2 goals, 1 assist, +3
(3) Mike Green - 2 assists, +3, 7 shots

Picture of the Night
The shot chart for the third period of last night's game:

Quick Hits

  • I hated to see it, but that Eric Perrin pass to Jim Slater that lead to his shorthanded goal was beautiful.

  • Jeff Schultz made a great play at one point with Ilya Kovalchuk bearing down on him on a one-on-one, an indication of how much he's improved this season.

  • Steve Eminger wants in the lineup bad. He seems like he's always looking to make a big and tonight he was forechecking harder than some of the forwards during the third period.

  • The Thrashers laid 20 hits on the Caps last night, a number that probably would have been lower had Donald Brashear and/or John Erskine been in the lineup.

  • The Capitals racked up 45 shots on the night, led by Ovechkin (9), Viktor Kozlov (8) and Mike Green (7).

  • The Thrashers commentators were criticizing Kari Lehtonen for being upset with the end of the game and, to a certain extent, calling out his teammates in the post game interview but I can't say I blame him. There's no way you should see 23 shots in a one period when your team is defending a lead.

  • That said, Lehtonen should have been called for an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for throwing his stick after the Capitals fourth goal (and an added ten minutes misconduct would have been appropriate as well, although since Lehtonen is a goalie it wouldn't have had an impact).

  • Alex Ovechkin wasn't credited with a hit.

  • Boyd Gordon's goal was his sixth this season...and his third empty netter.

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