for this game

Ovechkin nets 60th in Capitals' win

Mar 22, 2008 - 4:10 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Alex Ovechkin made history and the Washington Capitals rallied back from a two-goal deficit to win a crucial game down the stretch.

Ovechkin scored his league-leading 59th and 60th goals of the season and added two assists and rookie Nicklas Backstrom scored twice in a 32-second span in the third period to lead the Capitals to a 5-3 comeback win over the woeful Atlanta Thrashers on Friday.

Defenseman Mike Green notched two assists and Cristobal Huet turned aside 14 shots for the Capitals (37-31-8), who moved within one point of the idle Boston Bruins (37-28-9) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"It's a big win for us," Ovechkin said. "It's always nice to score goals. Tonight's goals were very important for my team. Every game, every point is important for us."

Ovechkin has tormented the Thrashers throughout his NHL career, recording 18 goals and 18 assists against them in 23 career games entering Friday's contest at Philips Arena.

This time was no different.

The 22-year-old opened the scoring with ease at 15:18 of the first period. The talented Ovechkin made one of his patented strong moves, going from the left to right faceoff circle before beating goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a blistering wrist shot to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.

Afterward, the Russian superstar was stymied by the strong goaltending of Lehtonen until he found the net with 8 1/2 minutes remaining in the game, when he tapped in the rebound of Green's blast from the doorstep to cut Washington's deficit to 3-2.

"If there's ever a case for anybody to say who is the MVP of the league, he showed it on the ice tonight," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought in the third period, he said, 'Get on my back and go.'"

With the tally, the third-year standout became the first player to score 60 goals in one season since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr both accomplished the feat with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1995-96 campaign. Ovechkin also matched the franchise mark for goals in a season set by Dennis Maruk in 1981-82.

"Alex scored his 60th goal, it's unbelievable," Backstrom said. "It's big for him to score 60 goals."

When Ovechkin wasn't scoring on the ice, he still was playing a pivotal role. After Backstrom scored on a wrister from the left circle with four minutes remaining to forge a 3-3 tie, it was Ovechkin who jumped into the arms of his teammate.

And just over 30 seconds later, Ovechkin was at it again, beating the listless Thrashers to the puck behind the net and finding Backstrom, who beat Lehtonen to put the Capitals ahead.

"It was a huge third period for us," Backstrom said. "We talked about going to the net before the period. Every point is very important right now. We just have to play our game."

While a jubilant Ovechkin once again celebrated with Backstrom, a frustrated Lehtonen - who faced 23 shots in the final period - threw his stick and blocker to the ice in disgust.

"One team does the right thing and the other team just doesn't," said Atlanta captain Bobby Holik, whose team officially was eliminated from playoff contention. "We were just outplayed and outhustled, and that's why there's four goals in the third period. There isn't much to say."

Boyd Gordon capped the scoring with an empty-netter with eight seconds left. Ovechkin also picked up an assist, completing his four-point performance.

Atlanta, which started strong, was woeful in the third. The Thrashers failed to muster a shot for the first 13 minutes of the period and finished the session with a mere two.

"They don't quit, and they showed that in the third period," said Atlanta center Jim Slater, who recorded the first multi-goal game of his three-year career. "I don't know what we were doing, but it wasn't good."

It did not start out bleak, however, as Atlanta scored three unanswered goals to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Rookie defenseman Tobias Enstrom knotted the game with a power play tally 4:11 into the second period, and Slater followed at 7:57 with his first career shorthanded goal on a breakaway to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

"Anytime you're shorthanded and there's a turnover on the blue line, you want to (go) through the middle," Slater said. "(Eric) Perrin knew that, and it was a perfect pass by him to split the defense. I had a breakaway from the red line in."

Slater extended the advantage at 16:06, when his wrister from the left circle went in off the left pad of Huet.

"We had a great second period, but they came at us and we tried to sit on (the lead)," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "We know with a two-goal lead, it doesn't matter what time of game it is, you can't sit on it. We just stopped doing what we were doing in the second, and it cost us in the third."






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    Capitals 5, Thrashers 3  FinalMar 21 10:55 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 1 0 4 5
    ATLANTA 0 3 0 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 59 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    15:18
    2ND PRD: ATL - (PP) TOBIAS ENSTROM 5 (MARK RECCHI, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV)
    4:11
    ATL - (SH) JIM SLATER 5 (ERIC PERRIN) 7:57
    ATL - JIM SLATER 6 (ERIC PERRIN, C

    Mar 21 10:03 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 5
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: WAS - (EN) BOYD GORDON 6 (BROOKS LAICH, ALEX OVECHKIN) 19:52

    Capitals 5, Thrashers 3  3rd - 0:08Mar 21 10:01 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 4
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: WAS - NICKLAS BACKSTROM 14 (ALEX OVECHKIN) 16:32

    Capitals 4, Thrashers 3  3rd - 3:28Mar 21 9:55 PM
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    RUWTbot Took away 61 roots (Close Finish)

    Capitals 4, Thrashers 3  3rd - 3:28Mar 21 9:55 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 3
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: WAS - NICKLAS BACKSTROM 13 (MIKE GREEN, CRISTOBAL HUET) 16:00

    Capitals 3, Thrashers 3  3rd - 4:00Mar 21 9:53 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 72 roots (Close Finish)

    Capitals 3, Thrashers 3  3rd - 4:00Mar 21 9:53 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    ATLANTA 3
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 60 (MIKE GREEN, VIKTOR KOZLOV) 11:30

    Capitals 2, Thrashers 3  3rd - 8:30Mar 21 9:45 PM
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    droozilla Added 5 roots

    Capitals 1, Thrashers 3  2nd - 0:18Mar 21 9:08 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 1 0 1
    ATLANTA 0 3 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 59 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    15:18
    2ND PRD: ATL - (PP) TOBIAS ENSTROM 5 (MARK RECCHI, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV)
    4:11
    ATL - (SH) JIM SLATER 5 (ERIC PERRIN) 7:57
    ATL - JIM SLATER 6 (E

    Mar 21 9:07 PM
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    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Capitals 1, Thrashers 3  2nd - 3:54Mar 21 9:03 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 3
    2ND PRD: ATL - JIM SLATER 6 (ERIC PERRIN, COLBY ARMSTRONG) 16:06

    Capitals 1, Thrashers 3  2nd - 3:54Mar 21 9:00 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 2
    2ND PRD: ATL - (SH) JIM SLATER 5 (ERIC PERRIN) 7:57

    Capitals 1, Thrashers 2  2nd - 12:03Mar 21 8:47 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - (PP) TOBIAS ENSTROM 5 (MARK RECCHI, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV)
    4:11

    Capitals 1, Thrashers 1  2nd - 15:49Mar 21 8:36 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 1 1
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 59 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    15:18
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WAS 8 8
    ATL 6 6
    GOALIES: WAS - CRISTOBA

    Mar 21 8:11 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 59 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM, VIKTOR KOZLOV)
    15:18

    Capitals 1, Thrashers 0  1st - 4:42Mar 21 8:04 PM
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