By reaching overtime the Washington Capitals clinched their second straight Southeast Division title and fifth division banner in franchise history tonight. But there was still a point to be had, and the desperate Buffalo Sabres grabbed it to keep their long-shot postseason hopes alive.
That adds up to a weird ending to a hockey game. The Buffalo fans (which were many) were happy to see the hope of their season prolonged for another day. The Washington fans were pleased to celebrate another division title.
Not pleased or celebrating, however, were the Washington Capitals. There was no big celebration in the locker room after the game.
“That’s not our goal – before the season started, when we said we’re going to win we had one goal in mind,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said, referencing the Stanley Cup. “We’re not there yet. … We’ve got to get smarter to be able to play better.”
Sergei Fedorov, who had two goals but also a costly turnover in overtime, echoed Boudreau’s sentiments:
“Last year was last year and they have to be different from one another,” he said. “This year was different with the way we played the whole season. I guess our goal is to get to the playoffs in the best shape possible and play as well as we can. That’s why it was more of a business-like atmosphere in here tonight.”
Here are some other tidbits from the 5-4 decision:
* The Caps power play moved into first place in the NHL with a 3-for-7 performance. Washington is now at 25.6 percent, just ahead of the Detroit Red Wings at 25.4.
* The flip side is the Caps weren’t very good at even strength tonight and were outscored 4-1 during 5-on-5 play.
* Alex Ovechkin is still going to need some help, but he’s creeping up on Evgeni Malkin for the NHL points lead. He had three more tonight, and is now at 104 — four behind his Russian friend/rival/friend. Malkin does have an extra game to play.
Ovechkin potted goal No. 55 — not a big milestone but interesting on a couple of fronts. It is only the fifth time someone has reached 55 in the past 12 seasons. Ovechkin has done it twice, Pavel Bure had back-to-back 55+ years and Jonathan Cheechoo did it the year after the lockout.
No. 8 also tied Mike Ridley for third place on the franchise’s all-time list with 218 career goals.
* Simeon Varlamov had an interesting night. The first three goals he allowed all hit teammates just before reaching him. But at least twice Varlamov was saved from a sure-goal by either a Sabres player missing the net or a teammate deflecting the shot.
* Alexander Semin reached the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career. He had gone five games (six counting the one he missed) while being stuck at 29.
* Tomas Fleischmann recorded his first point since February — a span of 14 games. It was a big one though — he made a great diving play to knock the puck down and keep it in the offensive zone on Fedorov’s first goal.