Bruce Boudreau said his team was sleepwalking through the first two periods Sunday afternoon. He messed with his lines, gave some “words of encouragement” during the second intermission and then watched his team blitz the Atlanta Thrashers with four goals on 15 shots in the final period of a 6-4 victory.
Boudreau’s original top line of Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov had zero goals and combined to be a minus-five in this game. Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green didn’t have much of an offensive impact, either. Not only that, the league’s top-rated power play was nearly shut out despite seven chances.
But six goals from six different players helped the Caps to their eighth win in 12 games, and a two-point lead over New Jersey for the No. 2 seed with three games each left to play.
“It is good to see that secondary scoring and get it working,” Boudreau said. “We can’t depend on four guys to score all of our goals every game.”
Here are some other notes and quotes from the final home game of the regular season:
* Tomas Fleischmann had his first goal in 16 games. Michael Nylander had his second tally in 19 games. Eric Fehr had his second in 17 games. All three guys also added an assist — and the Caps could use more of that from all three of them in the coming weeks.
It was the first multi-point game for Nylander since Feb. 3 and Feb. 11 for both Fleischmann and Fehr.
* Boudreau tweaked his lines, putting Backstrom on the top line and shuffling Kozlov to the fourth line — but it was the middle two units that sparked the comeback. A trio of Laich (three points), Nylander and Fehr combined for the first two goals of the third period, and then the Fleischmann-Aucoin-Semin group added the eventual game-winner.
““When things aren’t going well and guys are having bad games, you have to make changes,” Boudreau said. “It is foolish just to keep the same guys going out when on some nights guys aren’t clicking.”
* Keith Aucoin has five points in the six games since he was recalled, including his first multi-point game with the Caps. He is certainly making his case to stick around once Donald Brashear and Boyd Gordon come back. That won’t be an easy decision for the Caps at this point, especially if Nylander plays like he did today.
* Boudreau thought Jose Theodore might have been trying for the empty-net when he put the puck on Slava Kozlov’s stick for an easy goal to make it 5-4. He also a) doesn’t expect Theodore to try that again and b) told his goalie to get a new stick.
* Brooks Laich has, like Fleischmann and Fehr, been somewhat streaky as a scorer this season, and he is officially in the midst of a hot streak. He’s got nine points in his past five games.
“He brings some grit,” Fehr said of Laich. “He’s a guy who wants to go to the front of the net, wants to score goals and he wants to win anyway he can — blocking shots, just doing all the little things.”
* Alex Ovechkin had a bad turnover that led to a shorthanded goal and just missed on a couple of chances to score goals. He also had 11 shots on net and two assists.
* Theodore also had an up-and-down afternoon, making several quality stops among his 20 saves but also yielding a couple of goals he’d like to have back (the Kozlov marker was an obvious one, but he just missed getting enough of Ilya Kovalchuk’s shot on Atlanta’s third goal).