GAME 76 REVIEW: Potsie Wins the Game

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, March 27, 2009 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

In the worst officiated game of the season, Brian Pothier scored his first goal of the season to break a three-all tie, and Alex Ovechkin finished his four-point night with an empty net goal with seven seconds remaining to cement the Washington Capitals 5-3 victory over the cellar-dwelling Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ovechkin had two goals and two assists, and Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and one assist, pacing the Caps in a very erratically officiated game. There were two goals immediately waived off, one a "contact with the goaltender" call against Michael Nylander who neither made contact with the goaltender, nor was whistled for a penalty on the play.

There were 15 penalties called in the game, and the Caps made the most of their opportunities, scoring three power play goals. It was a tough game, with players going out of their way to inflict a physical presence. Tampa Bay seemed to try to take play to the Caps early, but it was Washington that took advantage of the rough play.

Early in the first period, Ovechkin drew two penalties on the same play, drawing a slash by Josef Melichar and a trip by Matt Smaby. He would make the Lightning pay for their indiscretions, banging home a pass from Backstrom to take the early lead.

Backstrom added his own power play goal at 11:17, and later a backhanded rebound off a shot from the point by Mike Green.

But the highlight of the game was Pothier's goal. The defenseman was playing in his fourth game since returning from post-concussion syndrome. His goal was a shot from the point that made its way through a maze of players to beat Lightning goalie Mike McKenna at 4:30 of the third period, just a minute and a half after Vaclac Prospal beat Jose Theodore with somewhat of a fluky goal to tie it up.

Pothier's career was very much in jeopardy as the year-plus rehab saw him experience vision and vertigo problems. But through hard work, dedication and daily therapy, the veteran blue liner has made it back to be a contributor to Washington's playoff effort.

The Capitals are off until next Wednesday, when they host the New York Islanders at 7:00 pm at Verizon Center.

The Caps moved ahead of the New Jersey Devils into second place in the Eastern Conference, as the Devils fell in overtime to the Chicago Black Hawks, 3-2. The Caps have a one-point advantage over New Jersey, but the Devils have a game in hand on the Caps.