The Washington Capitals beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3 in front of a electrifying, red-rocking crowd.  The Caps looked like a team that is ready for the playoffs.

The Caps have set new records during the 2009-2010 season and Friday night was no exception.  During a pre-game ceremony, the Caps First-Ever Presidents' Trophy was presented by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals which increased his total to 50 goals for the season and puts him at top of the NHL leaderboard by one goal over Crosby. This picture is of goal #49.

Congrats to Alex Ovechkin on reaching 50 goals this season!

Nicklas Backstrom scored two goals as well and reached 100 points for the first time in his career. Congrats Nicky!

After Backstrom's second goal of the night.

With Poti and Knuble sitting out as healthy scratches, Backstrom and Green wore the "A" on their sweaters.

Last, but not least, with five Caps' goals, all fans (with valid ticket stubs) get WINGS from Glory Days.

All Photos 2010 © Cheryl Nichols Photography. All Rights Reserved.


14:44 WAS - N. Backstrom (32), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ovechkin, Green

11:15 ATL - E. Artyukhin (9), Slap Shot. Assist: Kulda, Slater
13:07 ATL - C. MacArthur (16), Snap Shot. Unassisted
16:04 WAS - A. Ovechkin (49), Slap Shot. Assist: Semin

09:49 WAS - A. Ovechkin (50), Snap Shot. Assist: Semin, Backstrom
12:16 WAS - J. Chimera (15), Slap shot. Assist: Belanger, Schultz
13:05 WAS - N. Backstrom (33), Wrist Shot. Assist: Semin, Corvo


1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
2. N. Backstrom - WAS (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
3. A. Semin - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 3)


All Photos 2010 © Cheryl Nichols Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Jose Theodore made 28 saves, Alex Ovechkin had two assists, and Brooks Laich banged home the game winner in overtime as the Washington Capitals defeated the desperate Boston Bruins 3-2, in what could have been a preview of the first round of the playoffs.

The Capitals entered the game as the newly crowned winner of the President's Trophy, presented to the team that totals the most regular season points.  It assures the Caps home-ice advantage for the entirety of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Bruins, on the other hand, came in fighting for the final spot in the playoffs, the eighth seed. 

Boston gained a point, by virtue of taking the game to overtime, and moved into seventh place with 85 points. Montreal is sixth with 86 points and Philadelphia is in eighth place with 84 points.  Any of the three could still end up in the eighth seed and face the daunting task of trying to unseat the Capitals.

The game was suited to Boston's strength much of the game.  It was a slow, plodding game for much of the affair, with scoring chances coming from rebounds and bouncing pucks instead of laser shots and dipsy-dos.

The game-winner from Laich, still wearing the full cage as a result of the facial injury sustained a couple weeks ago, was an "ugly" goal.  On a 4-on-3 power play in the extra frame, courtesy of a Dennis Wideman high-stick on Tomas Fleischmann, Alexander Semin wound up big from the left wind circle on Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (27 saves).

Semin misfired and the puck came up into Laich's midsection.  Laich knocked the puck to his feet and slapped it past the out of position Rask to end the affair.

It was a fitting ending, and the outcome was made possible by the stellar goaltending by Theodore.  He controlled his rebounds all night, and was sharp on pucks coming through traffic.  He made two consecutive highlight reel pad saves on Michale Ryder in the slot, the second of which was an old school double stack laying on the ice.

Coach Bruce Boudreau praised his goalie after the game.  "It's hard to say which was his best. He's made some great saves to keep us in. He's had his couple of a bad games [and] now he's back in the groove I hope. He was real good."

Boudreau rested his star defenseman in this one.  Mike Green was given a night off in preparation for the playoffs. Despite missing their top D-man, the Caps killed all thre penalties assessed on the night.

There's no rest for the weary though, as the Capitals travel to Pittsburgh tonight for a matchup with the Penguins.  The Caps are trying to sweep the Pens, having won all three previous meetings this season.