The Washington Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh last night, setting yet another franchise mark, in this 2009/10 magical season, completing their first ever series sweep of the Pens.
Alexander Ovechkin broke out of a 4 game mini-slump, scoring two goals, including one late in the game with an empty net tally, to pull into a tie with arch rival Sidney Crosby, who also scored last night, for the NHL lead in goals scored, scoring number 47 and 48 on the season. Ovechkin also recorded points 105 and 106, pulling to within 1 point of NHL leader Henrik Sedin of Vancouver.
Fellow Alex, Alexander Semin, scored his 39th of the season in the first period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Semin's goal was assisted by Jeff Schultz, picking up his first of two helpers on the night. Schultzie is having a banner year, with 3 goals, 19 assist, and a +44 rating, first overall in the NHL. Caps outshot the Pens in the first period 10-9. They also got some terrific saves from young netminder Semyon Varlamov.
The hottest Cap of all started the second period off with his 28 goal of the season just 28 seconds into the period. Mike Knuble hammered a slapper past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fluery to give the caps a 2-0 lead. Knuble has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games. It was the 18th time this season the Caps have scored in the first minute of a period.
A little over the 6 minute mark, Crosby would pull the Pens to within 1, notching his 48th goal to make it 2-1. Caps struck back 21 seconds later on a beauty slap shot by Tomas Fleischmann, fed by Semin, who was injured on the play. Semin did return to the ice. It was Flash's 23rd of the season and that goal chased an angry Fleury from the game. Jordon Leopold scored his first of two on the night at the 9:55 Mark to pull then pens within 1, at 3-2. But the Caps would tally late in the second period at the 18 minute mark, on a goal by Matt Bradley past former Cap Brent Johnson to send the Caps into the second intermission with a 4-2 lead and the game momentum. It was Bradley's 10th of the year, marking a new career high for a single season. Bradley scored 9 goals back in 2001/02 with San Jose. Congrats Brads! Pittsburgh out shot Washington 10-6 in the second period, but 3 of the 6 Washington shots were goals.
Leopold scored his second of the night 49 seconds into the third period to pull the Pens to a 4-3 deficit and firing up Mellon Arena. Ovechkin would score the final two tallies, the first coming at the 2:37 mark, pretty much wrapping up the win for the Caps. Ovechkin added his second of the night, an empty netter, at the 19:59 mark with just one second left in the game to ice the win and move him into a tie with Crosby for the NHL lead in goals.
Varlamov stopped 26 of 29 shots to earn the in and improve to 15-4-5 on the season. It is Varly's second consecutive win.
Special Teams: Caps only had one power play opportunity and converted on Ovechkin's first goal of the thirdperiod. The PK unit killed 3 of 4 Pens power play opportunities.
Nicklas Backstrom, 3 assists
Alexander Ovechkin, 2 goals
Jeff Schultz, 2 assists
Alexander Semin, 1 goal, 1 assist
DCPSR Player of the Game: ALEXANDER SEMIN
* Mike Knuble has a 3 game scoring streak and a 2 game goal streak.
* Nicklas Backstrom has a 2 game scoring streak. In his last 2 games, Backstrom has tallied 1 goal and 5 assists. Backstrom has 2 consecutive games with more than 1 helper.
* Alexander Ovechkin has a 2 game scoring streak and has 4 points in his last 2 games.
* Alexander Semin has a 3 game scoring streak.