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Ovechkin catches Crosby

The Caps swept the Penguins for the first time in franchise history with a 6-3 win at Mellon Arena. But tonight was as much about personal milestones as it was about team achievement.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period (including his league leading fifth into an empty net) to move into a tie with Sidney Crosby for goals (48) and temporarily pull even with Henrik Sedin for points (106).

Nicklas Backstrom recorded three assists to set a career best (67) for helpers, while Alexander Semin and Matt Bradley established career highs for goals with 39 and 10, respectively.

Check out my final edition gamer here (again, it's got some good quotes). Then check back for a few notes and a video:

*Coach Bruce Boudreau on the significance of going 4-0-0 vs. the Pens this season:


*Ovechkin's bid to become the first player to win three Rocket Richard trophies got a big boost thanks to his first mulit-goal game since March 8.

But Ovechkin has only two games remaining. Crosby, who reached 100 points for the fourth time, has three games remaining. Steven Stamkos's 'Bolts, meantime, also have three games remaining.

*With a plus-5 effort, defenseman Jeff Schultz also took his place on the leader board, surpassing Ovechkin and becoming the league's leader in plus/minus at plus-44. Schultz was a plus-13 last year.

*Marc Andre Fleury did not look ready to play tonight. When Fleury's on, he might have stopped the goals by Semin, Knuble and Fleischmann. Semyon Varlamov, meanwhile, won back-to-back games for the first time since December and was good enough.

*Injury update: John Erskine left tonight's game in the first period with a lower body ailment. Mike Green and Eric Belanger are said to be "resting".

*For the second straight game, the Caps blocked significantly more shots than their opponent. Tonight, it was by 18-8 margin. And once again, the effort was led by defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, who had three.

*Minor league callup Jay Beagle won seven of his 10 faceoffs. Tomas Fleischmann, on the other extreme, lost 10 of his 13 draws.

The Caps are off tomorrow and I'll be driving back from Pittsburgh. So it may be a light day on the blog.


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By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 7, 2010; 12:45 AM ET
 | Tags: Games, Jay Beagle, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine, Marc Andre Fleury, Marc-André Fleury, Mike Green, Steven Stamkos  
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Next: Ovechkin, Caps take care of Pens -- again

Comments

Great game, Caps. We handled the Pens quite well. Then again, I'm not convinced the Pens are among the League's elite right now. Still, 4-0, a three goal win, and most of the time playing very responsibly

Posted by: Sonyask | April 7, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm not saying Corvo was flawless by any means, but he had one of his best games as a Cap tonight. If he can keep up this level of play in the playoffs we will be far better off.

Schultz, on the other hand, was downright fantastic.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 7, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Great game but quick edit:

Malkin won the Art Ross last year, not Ovie.

Posted by: Tate12 | April 7, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Check out the NHL stat leaders on NHL.com right now if you're still up. They say Knuble leads both +/- and Goals. Someone screwed up!

Posted by: Raber | April 7, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

@Tate12

You're correct. That was a typo/poor self editing by me.

--TEB

Posted by: el_bashir | April 7, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Something that seems to be forgotten with all the hype about Ovi trying to win more Richard and Ross trophies is the fact that Backstrom is only 2 points from the 100 threshold. I believe he'd be only the third Cap to do it, after Maruk and Ovi. Go get 'em Backie! And also I hope he passes Crosby for third in the league in scoring

Posted by: TempusFugitRGV1 | April 7, 2010 1:57 AM | Report abuse

If I saw the goals correctly (I was unable to watch the games, so this is from the recap), Matt Bradley got another game winner. If so, that means 5 of his 10 goals this year are game winners. Talk about clutch.

Posted by: timmyv38 | April 7, 2010 2:08 AM | Report abuse

I just finished watching the tape of the game, and I must say Brian Engblom must be reading my post (LOL), of course he isn't, but he is dead-on in his assessment of OV's lack of scoring. Here is a snippet of my post:

... like the old OV; on the last past few games he had been stopping just above the blue line and then cruising horizontally (maybe trying to emulate Semin's wicket shots while going sideways?) making it easy to defend him - that is not his strong game.
...

Posted by: hock1 | April 6, 2010 11:21 AM |

Posted by: nimes1 | April 7, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

LMAO. I have got a feeling my room-mate is going to be P.O. for not signing him off before posting. Sorry nimes1, I buy you a beer later. Hock1.

Posted by: nimes1 | April 7, 2010 2:46 AM | Report abuse

Has anybody read Wise's column yet? I don't get the media's obsession with this subject. Are they not aware how young Ovechkin and Crosby are? They act as if we have watched the same thing over and over again with these guys. However, neither player is even 25 years old yet. They both have 10-15 years left in their career. Wise compared it to Russell and Chamberlin but that example took years to forge (I might add that Chamberlin did win a championship). Ovechkin has been to the postseason all of TWO TIMES! This has gotten to the point of being completely preposterous and I believe this is really about the Penguins vs the Capitals of the 90's when neither player was around. I don't believe this is truly about Ovechkin vs Crosby at all. The media is just too shortsighted to separate the two.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 7, 2010 5:43 AM | Report abuse

Geez, TEB, did we even watch the same game? Flash had the goal of night, ripped one top-shelf, 21 seconds after the Pens scored on Crobsy's PP goal to get the fans back in it, and it barely warrants a mention. Olcyck said no chance for Fleury on it, Flash just rilfled the thing. Instead, all we hear about it he had a tough night on draws. Very disappointing.

And Semin had another strong game - #1 star in not exactly Semin-loving territory - as he invariably does when paired with Flash - but again, not a mention.

Posted by: govtimbo | April 7, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Impressive win last night by our Caps coming off a game the night before and having to travel etc...the Pens were well rested. Also considering the game meant nothing in the standings it was a solid performance.

10 days ago the sky was falling around here, it was too funny listening to all the complaints people were having it was as if we were the 9th seeded team struggling to make the playoffs.

Posted by: Redskins2Win | April 7, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

What a great game. Wins against arch rivals are always great. The Caps won without their full playoff lineup and just rollng just 5 d-guys once Erskine was hurt. That game does show the Caps depth and ability to turn it on for a big game. I say bring it on come playoffs. The only way to settle questions is to win the Cup.

Ack! That's what I have to say about Wise. The Caps are in a special moment having won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in Caps history and after having won a game that I wasn't sure they would have given the urgency of those points to the Pens, and Wise chooses to publish THAT!

I get the feeling he had it written and ready for this game no matter what happened. I made the mistake of reading it last night because Tarik's piece wasn't up yet--guess I won't be reading Mike Wise again. And during the playoffs if those two Wise and Wilbon decide to create another lame video piece allegedly about the Caps I won' be wasting my time listening. Geez TSN and THN gives Ovi and the Caps more respect than either Wilbon or Wise.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | April 7, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

CYG -

Wise is such a goof...I cant and wont read him. I have no desire to sit and read one mans opinion of a team especially when he has no knowledge of the team. (Wise knows less than my wife).

I want facts, stats, updates, injury reports, other issues pertaining to the team....that stuff I will read hence THIS BLOG.

But I could care less about what some dope thinks about the Caps who doesnt follow them as a beat reporter, analyst or a fan.

Posted by: Redskins2Win | April 7, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind the Wise column, honestly. OV recognizes that winning the Cup is much more important than the individual awards. If the article and the media buzz in general inspires OV even more, then bring it on. The Caps like to see themselves as the Rodney Dangerfields of hockey (see the owner's blog). The underdog syndrome can work well, as long as it does not undermine the player's confidence.

I would like to see OV win the Richard, the Ross, and the Hart -- but more than all those -- THE CUP!!!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | April 7, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Wise is one of those people who imagine things and believes them as real. He is a parrot blabbering what he hears without really understanding what he is saying.
However, he is not the only one.

Schultz is leading the league in +/-. Sacrebleu!!! Where are the Schultz detractors now?

OV is still a bit predictable but I am glad to see that he is going more to the net instead of horizontal.

The first line is still struggling and not playing as a full group in terms of looking for each other, but I think it is BB's style of play which ask the players to shoot while the others look for rebounds or create chaos around the net. Odd men rushes seldom are productive for the Caps because the Goalie pretty much knows who is going to shoot - Remember the Caps are not very good on shootouts and this type of play on a breakaway has a worse chance to succeed.

The fourth line might not have the talent, but they play well together and they look for each other. People that shouldn't be scoring are scoring or getting good chances because they play as a group.

Semin is a fantastic player, imagine how great he will be if he had had a regular center as a line mate, someone like Backstrom or St. Louis and was allowed to play team hockey.

Not denying Crosby is one great player. Caps fans instead of spitting venom to other great players, enjoy the fact you are lucky to see these guys play on your lifetime. Stop the childish comparisons, root for the Caps the 2010 NHL Champions and hopefully the SC winner.

Posted by: hock1 | April 7, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Blah blah...empty net goals...blah blah...the puck gravitates to great players. Gretzky, Messier, and Lemeiux all had lots of empties in their career.

Interesting stat folks -- Team winning streaks of 3 games or more, during this reg. season:

WSH 8 different streaks (14 longest)
CHI 8 (8 longest)
SJS 7 (8 longest)
PHO 6 (9 longest)
LAK 6 (9 longest)
NJD 6 (8 longest)
VAN 6 (7 longest)
PIT 5 (7 longest)
DET 5 (7 longest)

The playoffs are all about getting hot and staying hot. The Caps need to leverage their ability to find the positive groove.

Each of those teams on that list are contenders, but for those that say the Caps are not for real...look at the goals for, home record, road record, goal differential, and PP stats.

The only knocks on the Caps this season has been PK efficiency, and a few lazy first/third periods that bloated the goals against.

NO SLEEP 'TIL STANLEY!!!

Posted by: netminder71 | April 7, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Well, yes Caps won again. But look the statistics 4 power plays for Pittsburg and only one for Washington. Somebody have to stop it. Remember for the season Caps dominated and won all 4 games against, Pittsburg. But Pittsburg got 19 Power plays against Washington’s 8.
I believe if Washington and Pittsburg will meet in the play off we will have the same story. It will be difficult for Caps to win if power play ratio wills 1 to:2,5. This how Pittsburg won last year series, just because of huge power play advantage.
I believe the Caps don’t have right calls (or mostly no calls against Pens).
If we aren't going to rise the question why Pens have that huge power play advantage against the best scoring team in the league. The same story again will be repeats in the play off.
I encourage all Caps fan to write about it. It should be equal conditions for all teams.
NHL should allow players not to refs decide, who is the best team.

Posted by: michaelnonna | April 7, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree, michael. I wish someone could bring this to light, because it's just getting ridiculous. No one in the national hockey media wants to acknowledge the bias.

I saw this posted on another message board:

--------------

Since the beginning of last year:

Reg Season 08-09
@ Pitt: Pitt 6 PP, WASH 4 [Wash 4 Pitt 3]
@ Pitt: Pitt 6 PP, WASH 6 [Wash 6 Pitt 3]
@ Wash: Pitt 8 PP, WASH 3 [Wash 5 Pitt 2]
@ Wash: Pitt 4 PP, WASH 4 [Pitt 4, Wash 3 SO]

Playoffs 08-09

@Wash: Pitt 5 PP, Wash 2 [Wash 3 Pitt 2]
@Wash: Pitt 5 PP, Wash 5 [wash 4 Pitt 3]
@Pitt: Pitt 7 PP, Wash 2 [Pitt 3 wash 2 OT]
@Pitt: Pitt 6 PP, Wash 4 [Pitt 5 Wash 3]
@Wash: Pitt 3 PP, Wash 3 [Pitt 4 Wash 3 OT]
@Pitt: Pitt 5 PP, Wash 3 [Wash 5 Pitt 4 OT]
@Wash: Pitt 3 PP, Wash 0 [Pitt 6 wash 2]
(34-19 in the series)

Reg Season 09-10
@Pitt: Pitt 4 PP, Wash 2 [Wash 6 Pitt 3]
@Wash: Pitt 6 PP, Wash 4 [Wash 5 Pitt 4 OT]
@Wash: Pitt 5 PP, Wash 1 [Wash 4 Pitt 3 SO]
@Pitt: Pitt 4 PP, Wash 1 [Wash 6 Pitt 3]

Powerplays
Pitt: 77
Wash: 44

Pitt has more PPs: 11 games
Wash has more PPs: 0 games

Posted by: Hatfield223 | April 7, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Coach cracks me up!!

TEB: "So I suppose he'll be playing on Friday, tied with Sidney and one ahead of Stamkos...."

BB: "We'll rest him."

Posted by: sandyflee | April 7, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

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