In the finale of a four-game grudge max, with absolutely nothing at stake, the Washington Capitals showed once again their regular season mastery over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning 6-3 at "The Igloo" to complete the season sweep.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the contest, a power play early in the third period to push the lead back to two, and an empty net gift from his center, Nick Backstrom, to tie Sidney Crosby at 48 for the league's goal title, the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy.
The Caps got out to a two-goal lead courtesy of an Alexander Semin slap shot (39) in the first period and a Mike Knuble slapper (28) just 42 seconds into the second.
Crosby notched a power play marker six minutes later, sniping a shot between penalty killers David Steckel and Tyler Sloan.
But the backbreaker tonight was a Tomas Fleischmann wrist shot just 21 seconds later that sent Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fluery to the showers early.
The play was set up by Semin, who beat Max Talbot to a puck on the boards, tapping it back to Flash for the shot before paying the price with a high elbow from Talbot to Semin's earhole that failed to garner a call from the stripes.
In fact, the Penguins got four power plays to the Caps' one, marking the 15th straight meeting between the two where Pittsburgh had equal to or more power play opportunites than the Caps.
The Professor, Matt Bradley, tipped in a shot from Quentin Laing to reach his personal best 10th goal of the season, registering the actual game-winning goal. Half of Bradley's goals have been scored as game-winning goals this season.
Jordan Leopold scored the other two goals for Pittsburgh. The first was slap shot that bounced of defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, who lost his stick on the play and tried to soccer kick to shot. Instead it went through goalie Semyon Varlamov's pads.
Varlamov was elsewise strong in net, making 26 saves on 29 shots.
For the Caps to prove supremacy over the defending Stanley Cup Champions, they'll have to do more than win four regular season games. But sweeping the season series serves notice that Washington is ready for the challenge that will come in the second season.
If the playoffs started today, Pittsburgh would be the four seed, setting up a potential second round matchup between the bitter rivals.
Regardless of which round it happens in, you'd have to think the Caps will have to exorcize some demons this post-season if they wish to obtain the one goal they have left. And sweeping the season series should give them some more confidence toward that goal.