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Up Next For Caps: Montreal or New York

Tonight's game couldn't have gotten off to worse start. But it couldn't have had a sweeter ending for the Caps.

Brooks Laich (two goals) and Co. bounced back from surrendering a goal just 36 seconds in and clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference with an historic 4-2 victory over the significantly shorthanded Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Caps' first-round opponent will be either the Canadiens or Rangers. If the playoffs started tonight, it would be New York. But since the teams are tied with 93 points, that could change this weekend. The Habs host the Penguins in their finale Saturday night; the Rangers play at the Flyers on Sunday.

On to the notes:

Best Ever?
With the win, the Caps set a franchise record for points with 108 and tied the mark for with No. 50. Both records were held by the 1985-86 team. As we've discussed before, that team didn't earn points for shootout wins or overtime losses and it played two fewer games.

"I think you have got to rank this team up there," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We're right there. It's quite an accomplishment in this day in age with the salary cap. It's a good record to have."

The Caps can break the wins record Saturday in Sunrise, Fla., against a Panthers team that was eliminated tonight.

"We're proud of our accomplishment, but we haven't done nothing yet," said Mike Green, who had an empty net goal and two assists. "We're just having fun playing hockey, but one day we'll look back, Maybe [the 108 points] will never happen again."

Ovechkin Loses Ground
Alex Ovechkin took a game-high 11 shots, but Lightning goalie Karri Ramo (and the right post) didn't cooperate tonight. Ovechkin was held scoreless for the first time in 10 games and fell four points (112-108) behind Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. The race for the scoring title is not over by any stretch, but it ain't looking good for Alex, either.

Lots to Laich
Laich set a career high for goals with Nos. 21 and 22 tonight, surpassing the 21 he notched in his breakout campaign a year ago. He jammed in a rebound on the first one, then stopped and snapped a perfectly-placed shot over Ramo's glove for the second.

Torturing Tampa Bay
The win was the Caps' 11th straight over the Lightning, matching a franchise record for consecutive wins over a single opponent. The Caps beat the Islanders 11 times in a row from 1998-2000.

Shorthanded 'Bolts
The Lightning didn't have Vinny Lecavalier (wrist surgery), Ryan Malone (broken hand) or eight other regulars who were out with various injuries. The Lightning have used an NHL-record 22 defensemen this season and 50 different players.

And you thought the Caps were banged up earlier this season.

Sergei Struggling
With obstruction fouls, that is. In the past two games, he's taken five penalties (three hooking, one holding and one boarding). Boudreau said he plans to talk to the future Hall of Famer tomorrow and show him some video of the penalties.

"I haven't said anything yet, but I'm going to," Boudreau said. "It seems like every one of them is hooking on the hands. He can't afford to take those."

No Mo' for Koho
Don Koharski refereed his final game after 32 year tonight. When the announced crowd of 18,891 was made aware of this, he received, well, a mixed reception.

That's all for tonight. I'll check in from Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow, where I don't expect there will be a Caps practice.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 10, 2009; 12:06 AM ET
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Next: Morning Reading List: Caps Clinch No. 2 Seed


FIRST. nice win caps. lets keep it going strong into the playoffs.

Posted by: JSeagull1 | April 10, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

on tonite's game:

That's the way the way the way I Laich it, uh huh uh huh.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 10, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Don Koharski refereed his final game after 32 year tonight....

Followed by the announcement of the opening of "Have another doughnut" franchise...

Jim Shoenfield Will be the New Jersey area General Manager...

"Have another fat pig..."

Posted by: TimDz | April 10, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Writes-For-A-Living:

The phrase Bruce used is "this day and age". If you're really really sure that's what he actually meant to say, then you should add a [sic], but I'm sure it's just a mis-transcription.

I'm just busting your chops. We love your coverage of the Caps, Tarik!

Posted by: bruab | April 10, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Please Montreal... please NO Rangers. I have bad visions of Henrik shutting us down.

Posted by: donknutts | April 10, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are not losing to the Rangers or Montreal.

Posted by: bigschu8 | April 10, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

Great turnaround in the 2nd and 3rd periods.

Aucoin continues to impress. I'm guessing he'll stick around for the playoffs.

Laich has been a rock for us. We're lucky to have him. I think he should be captain.

Posted by: tmac2yao | April 10, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Dear Bruab,
Welcome to the internet! This is what we call a blog! Correcting grammatical or syntactical errors in the comments section of a post is generally a no-no for two reasons.
One, it is incredibly rude. There is a difference between a news website and a blog, even if the blog is on a news site. Blogs are generally a bit less formal than an actual news post going into an online news paper.
Two, it is a sign of ignorance. Sure it seemed like you were flexing your writing muscle and outsmarting a professional, but remember this is an English based blog hosted by a slightly left leaning newspaper in the United States. Posting about how you know English to a group of people statistically in the upper echelon of a nation with a 98% literacy rate would be like me telling a mechanic that a wrench should be used to remove bolts. It means that you honestly had nothing good to say.
Adding insult to injury is the fact you wasted a top 5 post on something so dumb. Do you know why most comment sections ban people who say 'first' or top the section with something off topic(see "From Previous")? Because if you have 50 comments, the next reader is going to come and probably only read the first 5 or 10. Those 5 or 10 posts are lucky enough to set the direction of the discussion. The issues I described(and yours) degrade comments sections into flame wars or alienate newcomers who do not have the time to read 10 comment sections to understand what is going on.

Again welcome to the internet! I wish you a happy stay!

Posted by: trunkenmath | April 10, 2009 2:21 AM | Report abuse

What a night of mixed emotions for me. I'm a lifelong hockey/soccer fan. On the same night my favorite hockey team establishes a franchise best record while my favorite soccer team may have vans pulling up to RFK as I type this.

This team is better suited to win in the postseason than the mid-80's team was. That team had a few fabulous defensemen but lacked creative forwards (Gartner had a great slap shot but fooled nobody). This team has very talented and creative players who can make things happen on their own which is essential come playoff time. However, I don't see them winning the Cup this year but I'm convinced that is in the cards in the not too distant future.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 10, 2009 2:44 AM | Report abuse

agreed, although i did read past the 5th post to see what you had to say :P

Posted by: virkulous | April 10, 2009 2:52 AM | Report abuse

Are we really making grammatical corrections at 3 am EST? Borderline troll subject if we can keep it rolling...

I will re-post tomorrow, but looks like I'm coming "home" to watch a playoff game at the Verizon Ctr and may have 1 extra ticket. You know I've only been to the Caps Center?! Crazy.

Sat's game is meaningless but I hope we give the Florida fans something fun before lock and loading for rd one. Cheers to the Preds.

Posted by: austinsteve | April 10, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

No game is meaningless. I expect to see Ovie's teammates dishing him the puck all night to try to make up the 4 points that he trails for the scoring title. And, if Laich gets one more PP goal (he missed tonight by 2 seconds), the team will have four players in double digits. Should be a fun game to watch.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | April 10, 2009 3:47 AM | Report abuse

Not only that but we can set the record for most wins. That's not meaningless to me.


Posted by: C-A-P-Scapscapscaps | April 10, 2009 3:58 AM | Report abuse

Bad win tonight, and I kind of like it that way. Bruce needs to light a fire under this team, and they're giving him plenty of gasoline. I can see this team getting pretty pumped up for the first series and hopefully they'll be able to ride that through.

On another note:

Aucoin for the playoffs!
Aucoin for first line center!
Aucoin for captain!
Aucoin for MVP!

Just joshing everyone. Love the kid and hope he stays around and continues to produce at his current alarming pace...

Posted by: Raber | April 10, 2009 4:14 AM | Report abuse

Check the stats, go way back, every time the Caps got screwed by a call in the playoffs it was Don "I hate the Caps" Koharski...his latest, oh that was the call on Poti in overtime of game 7 last year...he will not be missed, not at all.

Posted by: soloman5000 | April 10, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Who wants to see the Sean Avery show? I do, I do!

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 10, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

When will playoff tickets go no sale? Thanks!

Posted by: vsmartin007 | April 10, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

You know, I've never much liked the Rangers and I was a Habs fan for a long time. But between the ballot-stuffing and their recent squawk that they'd prefer to see Caps in the 1st round...
Gimme the Canadiens, and a flipping broom.

Posted by: redlineblue | April 10, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse


AMEN!! I seriously HATE it when people do that. This is our writer here. Don't give him crap about grammatical errors. I'm sure Tarik read that comment and was saying to himself....WHAT A JACKASS! Keep that junk off the blog!

Posted by: ZMANN84 | April 10, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Back to the topic at hand. I don't care which one of these teams we face. Neither of them have proved that they are ready for the playoffs. The Flyers, Pens and Canes are the teams storming into the playoffs. I'm just happy we locked up the 2nd seed so we don't have to see those teams until later in the playoffs.

I think you pick your poison with the Rangers and Canadians. The Rangers have very little offense even with Antrapov on their team....AVERY IS ON THEIR TOP LINE! That should say a lot. But they have a great goalie. But we've scored plenty on him this season.

Then you have the high powered Canadian offense that will be missing their top defenseman and top power play producer in Markov. To me, I think they are the more dangerous team and it could turn into a real shootout. Give me Avery and the Rangers!

Posted by: ZMANN84 | April 10, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

i have a partial season ticket plan which i bought mainly to ensure that i could secure playoff tickets before they went on sale to the public. they were offered to me on tuesday at 10am but they were apparently sold out in a matter of seconds. i called a caps rep and was told that there are none left, they are NOT going on sale to the public and you will have to get them through a reseller. ended up paying WAY more than i wanted to for upper level seats to game 1.

Posted by: fatdime | April 10, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

and soloman5000 is correct about koharski. he has been screwing the caps for years.

Posted by: fatdime | April 10, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

With all the comments about this Koharski guy, good riddance! Would have been nice if he got a hockey puck to the groin in his last game. Hey Koharski, don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 10, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Amen to everyone bashing on Koharski. I've still got memories of a game at the Cap Centre (5-1 Rangers blowout of the Caps) in the mid-to-late-80's where he was screwing us over eight ways to Sunday. The whole crowd was screaming for his head - everyone knew he was the problem that night. By far the WORST ref in the league. He's the only ref that I know by name, and that I knew if I saw him officiating a Caps game, we would be hosed.

Posted by: Bra8en | April 10, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I think its pretty sad that the same mistake ended up in print today. I guess the Post's budget cuts included editing for the sports section. But hey, it passed spellcheck so it must be OK.


There's a good chance I've been on the internet since you've been in diapers, so don't assume. And if I see my mechanic stripping a bolt by taking it off with a pair of Lock-Tites, I'll say something to him too. Toodles!

Posted by: bruab | April 10, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

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