- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2010

The night after they clinched the Presidents’ Trophy, the Capitals played a bit of a ragged game against the Bruins, but managed to grab the 52nd win of the season with a 3-2 overtime win.

Brooks Laich got the game winner just :46 into the extra session, knocking in a rebound to give the Caps the victory.

With their playoff seed secure and home-ice throughout the playoffs locked up, Washington coach Bruce Boudreau made a couple of tweaks to the lineup, scratching Mike Green from the contest, and also giving the third and fourth lines more ice time than usual as the the team prepares for the postseason.

Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble scored for the Capitals, with Alexander Ovechkin picking up a pair of assists as he looks to close in on Henrik Sedin’s points lead in the Art Ross scoring race.

After a sluggish start to the contest, the Capitals broke on top with 7:36 gone, as Nicklas Backstrom put a shot through Tuukka Rask’s pads. The shot just barely crossed the line before Dennis Wideman cleared the puck out of harm’s way. After an extensive video review, the ruling on the ice stood, putting the Capitals in front.

“I saw [Zdeno] Chara right away and I said ‘Oh Jesus’,” Ovechkin said of his assist. “I had to give [him the] pass and be ready to get hit. He hit me pretty hard, but it was a goal so I was happy.”

“I didn’t think it was in actually because I couldn’t see,” Backstrom said. “They called a goal. I guess it was in.”

Jose Thodore kept it that way for most of the period, making a pair of spectacular stops on Michael Ryder just before the halfway mark of the period.

“They came charging the net and I was able just to pretty much react,” Theodore said of the stops. “I didn’t really know what happened, but when you’re in your game you make those desperation saves and I got lucky to be able to react on both saves.”

However, the Bruins put a ton of pressure on Theodore in the period’s final minute, and connected when Wideman one-timed a Zdeno Chara feed past Theodore with just 1.6 seconds left.

Shaone Morrisonn gave Boston the first power-play of the night as he was whistled for holding the stick with 1:03 gone in the period. Washington was able to kill the minor thanks to some good saves by Theodore — and a couple of fortunate bounces.

David Krejci got whistled for a dangerous hit on Alexander Semin with 3:16 gone in the period, as he cross-checked the winger into the boards from behind, but the Caps weren’t able to cash in.

Boston then took its first lead of the night when Patrice Bergeron broke in on Theodore and beat him with a deke with 7:55 elapsed.

But Washington was able to tie the game up heading into the second intermission, as Ovechkin made a nice move around Bergeron and Wideman and fed Mike Knuble, who knocked the puck in the net off the scramble in front. There was another brief review, but the goal stood and the game was tied with :28.8 left in the middle frame.

Tyler Sloan gave Boston a power play with 10:03 left in regulation, but the Caps held. Brooks Laich then put the B’s back with the extra-man when he tripped Wideman with 5:01 to play, but the penalty-killers came through and both teams earned the point as the game went into overtime.

Wideman then took a high-sticking penalty just :24 into overtime, and the Caps burned Boston with the extra man. Laich collected a rebound of a Semin shot and beat Rask for the game winner just :44 into the extra session for the win.

Afterwards, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters he was pleased with the play of Ovechkin, who got a pair of assists.

“He competed,” Boudreau said. “He got involved. He wasn’t afraid to hit today. Well, he’s never afraid, but ever since that suspension, I think it has been on his mind. When he was going in and hitting guys, he was turning away a bit. He’s got to be him. I said, ‘You’re not a dirty player, so just play the way you normally play.’”

With three games left in the regular-season, the team plays their final road game of the regular season with a visit to Pittsburgh. The Penguins are fighting the Devils for the Atlantic Division crown, and haven’t beaten the Capitals so far this year, with an 0-1-2 mark against Washington.

The Caps wrap up their home schedule this weekend, as Atlanta and Boston visit, with their first playoff game to be held on or after April 15.

And, while the Caps were happy to have claimed the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy, Theodore said the team has bigger aspirations.

“It’s a big deal [to win the Trophy],” he said. “It’s a long season and you work hard to be the best. You work hard to be consistent and that’s something I was never able to achieve and to achieve that with this bunch of guys is great, but on the other hand, there’s plenty of hockey left. You’ve got to turn the page and there’s not too much time to celebrate.”

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