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Ovechkin lights the lamp in return to play
TAMPA, Fla. | After sitting out two games thanks to his suspension for boarding Brian Campbell, it didn’t take long for Alex Ovechkin to make an impression.
The Caps’ star scored just 10:47 into Saturday’s game at Tampa Bay, and also created several scoring chances in his return to climb into a tie for the NHL’s goal-scoring lead.
Ovechkin’s goal stood up as the game-winner as Jose Theodore was solid in net for Washington, as he withstood a 34-shot Lightning barrage to help keep the Caps in front after Ovechkin’s tally en route to a 3-1 win at the St. Pete Times Forum.
“I thought [Theodore] was outstanding,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said afterwards. “I felt so comfortable with him in the net. It was a really good feeling to have.”
Theodore also continued to make his case for being the team’s No. 1 goalie once the playoffs start, keeping his club in the lead for the last 49 minutes of the contest. Afterwards, Theodore said he knows all he can do is play well and earn his coach’s trust.
“That’s [Boudreau’s] call,” Theodore said. “I just like to play the game and do my stuff. The rest is really out of control.”
With the win, the Capitals also move closer to clinching their first-ever regular-season Eastern Conference crown, as they picked up points on both teams who are chasing them for home-ice advantage throughout the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Caps also closed out an eventful weeklong, four-game road trip — one that began with Ovechkin getting tossed out six days ago in Chicago — with a 3-0-1 record. Boudreau said afterwards he was pleased with the trip, with the Caps collecting seven points in “four tough buildings.”
Washington opened the scoring just 2:40 into the contest as Tomas Fleischmann tipped in a nice cross-ice feed from Eric Fehr past Antero Niittymaki for an early 1-0 lead.
Continuing a trend of late, however, the Capitals surrendered a bit of the momentum from their lamp-lighter.
The Capitals took a penalty on the very next shift, as after the Lightning narrowly missed a scoring chance on Jose Theodore, Mike Green was called for hooking just :43 after the Fleischmann goal.
The Capitals did kill off the penalty, and narrowly missed making it a 2-0 lead as an apparent Mike Knuble tally with 5:47 gone in regulation was waved off as the net was dislodged before the puck entered the cage to keep the Washington lead at just one.
The washed-out goal became a factor just over two minutes later, as Vinny Lecavalier tied the game with 7:54 gone, taking a feed from Teddy Purcell and then one-timing it past Theodore.
Washington then took another penalty, as John Carlson was called for a hold just :19 after Lecavalier’s tally. Washington did get a good scoring chance when Jason Chimera broke in and drew the netminder down, but the defenseman knocked it off its moorings before the circling forward could center the puck in front of the gaping cage.
Ovechkin then got his first pair of scoring chances as the penalty expired. The Caps’ star missed the net on his first chance, but then picked up a long Nicklas Backstrom pass off the boards and broke in alone on the Tampa netminder, beating him with a nice move for his first goal since March 8th.
About the Author
Ted Starkey, a Web editor for the continuous news desk, has written for and edited high-traffic websites, including AOL News, AOL Sports, FanHouse.com, USAHockey.com and BuffaloBills.com. He also has covered the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, Stanley Cup playoffs, NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA hockey during his career.
He is a graduate of American University, with a double major in ...
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