for this game

Ovechkin leads surging Capitals to sixth straight win

Apr 4, 2008 - 7:25 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals and points. He may just lead the Washington Capitals to a postseason berth.

Ovechkin singlehandedly erased a deficit with a pair of goals as the Capitals climbed into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Boyd Gordon and defenseman Tom Poti also scored, Viktor Kozlov and blue-liner Mike Green each added two assists and Cristobal Huet made 18 saves for Washington (42-31-8), which moved ahead of idle Philadelphia (40-29-11) for eighth place in the East. The Capitals also pulled even in points with the idle Carolina Hurricanes (43-32-6) for first in the Southeast Division.

"We win the game and we have to continue what we do," Ovechkin said. "It's a great time for us right now. We have great chance and we have to keep it going."

However, Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was cautious when discussing his team's chances for the postseason. The Capitals wrap up their regular season Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

"We haven't gotten anywhere yet," he said. "We're in the same position we were in two weeks, two months ago, and it comes down to one day. Hopefully, if we win, it's in our hands. The guys have played so hard and I just want them to get rewarded."

Defenseman Filip Kuba tallied for the Lightning, who lost their third straight game and All-Star Vincent Lecavalier to injury.

After Kuba gave Tampa Bay the lead just 39 seconds into the contest, Ovechkin pulled Washington even midway through the first period with his 64th goal of the season. However, Kozlov initially was credited with the tally before further review indicated Ovechkin put the puck in the net.

With 7:59 to go in the period, Kozlov fired a backhander that bounced off the pads of goaltender Karri Ramo. Ovechkin poked the rebound off the skate of Lightning defenseman Alexandre Picard and into the net to knot the game at 1-1.

The goal also gave Ovechkin the record for most in a season by a left wing, surpassing Luc Robitaille for the mark.

Following a scoreless middle period, Ovechkin put Washington ahead for good at 7:50 of the third, ripping a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle over Ramo's right shoulder during a power play.

"He really turns it up when the game's on the line," Washington's Brooks Laich said. "You've seen that many times. The third period is usually his best period of the hockey game, and tonight was no exception."

It was Ovechkin's 22nd man-advantage goal of the season, tying him with Peter Bondra (2000-01) for the single-season franchise record. The tally also was the 163rd of Ovechkin's career, moving him past Kelly Miller for 10th place on the Capitals' all-time list.

"I thought we were a little tight until that goal," Boudreau said. "We played a little bit more like we can when we have the lead. I don't know if it was Ramo making the big saves or it was because it was 1-1 late. ... When we got the goal, it let a little bit of the wind out of their sails."

With the two goals, Ovechkin increased his league-leading points total to 112, six more than Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the race for the Art Ross Trophy. He is 13 tallies ahead of Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk for the Maurice Richard Trophy.

Just over a minute after Ovechkin's second goal, Capitals defenseman John Erskine received a double-minor for high-sticking, giving the Lightning a long power play. But Washington was able to prevent Tampa Bay from netting the equalizer.

"That could have been a changing point in the game," Green said. "Our penalty-killers did a good job and our goaltender stood on his head again. If we don't get that PK, then it could be a different story."

"It was really important," Boudreau added. "The four defensemen and five forwards that killed the penalties did a superb job. It helped that the ice was pretty bad, so it was hard (for Tampa Bay) to make a good play."

Gordon added insurance with 3:17 remaining in the third, grabbing a rebound in front and backhanding it over a sprawled Ramo for his seventh of the season and a 3-1 bulge.

"After the first 20 minutes, we knew they were going to come," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "I thought Karri gave us a chance. I thought he was outstanding."

Poti sealed the win with an empty-netter with 68 seconds to go.

With 13:15 remaining in the third, Lecavalier was checked into teammate Michel Ouellet by Matt Cooke in the neutral zone and landed awkwardly, injuring his right shoulder. In obvious pain, Lecavalier retreated to the locker room and was taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Lecavalier will undergo an MRI on Friday and will not play in Tampa Bay's season finale on Saturday. Tortorella was not happy with Cooke's decision to check Lecavalier.

"It's an absolute cheap shot," he said. "It's a guy in a vulnerable position. It's interference if the puck isn't anywhere near him, and that isn't called. It's an absolute cheap shot."

Boudreau defended Cooke's actions.

"He wasn't even trying to hit Vince," he said. "He was trying to get to the outside guy and hit him. It was incidental contact."

Ramo finished with 26 saves, earning praise from his coach and Ovechkin.

"He's playing really well," Tortorella said. "Seems like he's playing up to another level since we talked about maybe trying to keep him in the minors."

"He makes unbelievable saves in the first two periods," Ovechkin said. "I don't know what he ate before the game, but he just stopped everything."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 0 0 1
    WASHINGTON 1 0 3 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 6 (JUSSI JOKINEN, VINCENT LECAVALIER) 0:39
    WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 64 (VIKTOR KOZLOV, MIKE GREEN) 12:01
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 65 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    7:50
    WAS - BOYD

    Apr 3 9:38 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    WASHINGTON 4
    3RD PRD: WAS - (EN) BRIAN POTHIER 6 (UNASSISTED) 18:52

    Lightning 1, Capitals 4  3rd - 1:08Apr 3 9:27 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    WASHINGTON 3
    3RD PRD: WAS - BOYD GORDON 7 (MATT BRADLEY, JEFF SCHULTZ) 16:43

    Lightning 1, Capitals 3  3rd - 3:17Apr 3 9:23 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    WASHINGTON 2
    3RD PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 65 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    7:50

    Lightning 1, Capitals 2  3rd - 12:10Apr 3 9:07 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 0 1
    WASHINGTON 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 6 (JUSSI JOKINEN, VINCENT LECAVALIER) 0:39
    WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 64 (VIKTOR KOZLOV, MIKE GREEN) 12:01
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 5

    Apr 3 8:33 PM
  • 25
    roots
    zackarcher Added 5 roots

    Lightning 1, Capitals 1  1st - 1:00Apr 3 7:42 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 1
    WASHINGTON 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 6 (JUSSI JOKINEN, VINCENT LECAVALIER) 0:39
    WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 17 (UNASSISTED) 12:01
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 5 5
    WAS 20

    Apr 3 7:42 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    WASHINGTON 1
    1ST PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 17 (UNASSISTED) 12:01

    Lightning 1, Capitals 1  1st - 7:59Apr 3 7:32 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    WASHINGTON 0
    1ST PRD: TAM - FILIP KUBA 6 (JUSSI JOKINEN, VINCENT LECAVALIER) 0:39

    Lightning 1, Capitals 0  1st - 19:21Apr 3 7:13 PM
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