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Caps 3, Lightning 0

After a sluggish first period, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps found their legs and put away the Lightning with a businesslike, 3-0 victory that vaulted them into first place in the NHL standings.

Check out my game story here, then come on back for a few notes that didn't make the early edition:

*With their sixth straight win, the NHL-leading Capitals are now 19-5-6, their best 30 game start in franchise history. It's a pretty significant accomplishment, but captain Chris Clark said there's still room for improvement.

"We're heading in the right direction," Clark said. "We're nowhere near where we should be, peaking wise. We want to do that in March and April heading into the playoffs. I think we have a little ways to go to be a little better and more consistent."

The Caps are also 7-0-0 in a Southeast Division race that's not going to be much of a race of they keep this up.

*When Semyon Varlamov brings his A-game like he did tonight, he's pretty spectacular. My personal favorite save of the night came early in the first period when Martin St. Louis rang a shot off Varlamov's mask. While that might have distracted other goalies, the rookie kicked out his pad to stop Steven Stamkos on the rebound. Impressive.

*Speaking of St. Louis and Stamkos (and Vincent Lecavalier, for that matter), they all seemed to spend a lot of time on the bench late in the third period of the Lightning's fifth loss in six games.

*Mike Green was sporting a cut under his left eye after taking a shoulder to the face from David Hale in the third period. Green went down hard but stayed in the game. The defenseman told me afterward that he thinks he's going to be fine.

*John Erskine got the hard hat for sticking up for Brian Pothier in the final moments of the game after Steve Downie leveled Pothier from behind.

*Eric Fehr on his five-goals-in-six-games streak: "I still feel like there's more to give. It's a good start. I'm getting a lot of opportunities."

*Ovechkin's 19th and 20th goals pulled him even with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for second place and within a goal of New York's Marian Gaborik for league lead in goals.

*Former Caps goalie Olie Kolzig was in the visiting dressing room tonight catching up with his old friends. Kolzig still maintains a home here in Tampa.

That's it from me tonight. I'll check in tomorrow from St. Pete Times Forum, where the Caps are practicing early before flying to Buffalo.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 8, 2009; 12:03 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tonight's lineup: Caps at Lightning
Next: Morning roundup: Ovechkin vaults Caps into lead


I'm still holding out a bit of hope for Ovi scoring 50 in 50. Is it possible? He'd have to get 28 in the next 20, but the way the Caps have played in the last three games, like someone else here said, they are getting scary good.

Posted by: ralph4100 | December 8, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

50 in 50 would be nice - even though ovi, at most, could only play in 42 of those
with ovi - yes i think it is possible

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 8, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

I caught the end of the game on or whatever, and maybe it's just me but some of the comments from the Tampa commentators were pretty concerning. I'm all for playing hard regardless of the score and having pride in the game and yourself and all that, but for the guys to talk about they like how the team is showing fire when it looked to me like their guy pulled a cheap shot on Pothier (I think...). Ok so having re-read this I've come to the conclusion that I need to get to sleep since I'm not making any sense. Go Caps.

Posted by: superpaqman | December 8, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Unless I'm mistaken Ovi has only played 22 games, of which he has 20 goals. So to go 50 in 50 he'd need another 30 goals over 28 games.

Well atleast I'm going by his own GP'd rather than the teams, in which case he could do it.

Posted by: breaklance | December 8, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

did anyone else notice how EMPTY their arena was????? it was just patches of empty seats all over the place!

i can't imagine a game like that being so under-sold in Caps town anymore...

GO CAPS. good work tonight boys.

Posted by: Bondra2Ovie | December 8, 2009 1:06 AM | Report abuse

50 in 50 depends on the player's 50th game, not the team's.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | December 8, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Nice to hear that Kolzig is still friendly with the team. That was a good end to my evening.

Posted by: theGelf | December 8, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Well, technically, a 50 in 50 is supposed to depend on the team's 50th. But they record "unofficial" 50 in 50s just the same!

How great has Varlamov been recently? He is playing well above expectations right now.

Posted by: richmondphil | December 8, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

@ Hatfield223 it is in the teams first 50 games. Otherwise Jari Kurri would have done it in 84-85 when he scored his 50th goal in his 50th game (teams 53rd). Alex Mogilny in 92-93 had 50 goals in his first 46 (teams 53rd game). Cam Neely in 93-94 scored 50 in 44 games (teams 66th) which would have tied Lemieux for fastest by a player not named Gretzkey. And speaking of Lemiuex he would have had two more in 92-93 (50 goals in his first 48 but teams 72nd) and 95-96 (50th goal in his 50th game but teams 59th) to go with the on he had in 88-89 which would have tied Gretzky for most times doing it.

Ovechkin might be able to do the unofficial 50 in 50 but I just don't see him getting 30 goals in 20 games. I just don't see happening. I can see him doing 30 goals in 28 games. Caps have games against the Sabers (x2), Devils, and Canucks still in December so I don't see Ovechkin averaging 1.5 GPG over guys like that and keeping that pace for the rest of the season. That means for ever game he doesn't score a goal he has to get a hat trick to make up for it.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 8, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

On the topic of Marty's record breaking shutout, it didn't quite feel right having him do it in Buffalo. The Buffalo fans didn't seem to care at all about what is quite an impressive milestone.

Not at all like the treatment he got in Montreal, where the Montreal fans booed their team right up until the buzzer, and then erupted in a standing ovation for the opposing goaltender.

Quite a moment.

Posted by: Raber | December 8, 2009 1:34 AM | Report abuse

UEFA Champions League

Posted by: bgfgf402 | December 8, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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