Postgame Notebook: Capitals 5, Thrashers 2
With its 5-2 win on Friday night over Atlanta, the Capitals became just the fourth NHL franchise ever to record 120 or more points in a season. The Caps have notched the eighth 120-point season in league history. With a win on Sunday against Boston, the Capitals could finish with 122 points, which would be the sixth highest total in NHL history.
Here are the previous clubs to achieve that lofty perch:
1970-71 Bruins, 121
1972-73 Canadiens, 120
1975-76 Canadiens, 127
1976-77 Canadiens, 132
1977-78 Canadiens, 129
1995-96 Red Wings, 131
2005-06 Red Wings, 124
Washington becomes the first non-Original Six team to reach the 120-point plateau. Tonight’s game marked the 22nd time in Washington’s 54 victories this season that the team won a game in which it trailed at some point in the contest.
The Capitals have won five straight games and are 5-0-1 in their last six. With one game remaining, the Caps are now 30-4-6 (66 points) in the season’s second half.
Above Water After All These Years –
Friday’s win puts the Caps a game to the good for the first time in the franchise’s entire 35-season history. Washington is now 1,215-1,214-303-71 all-time. The Capitals were 212 games under .500 at the conclusion of their eighth season in the league.
With a pair of goals, Caps left wing Alex Ovechkin
reached the 50-goal level for the fourth time in his five NHL seasons. Tonight marked the second of his four 50-goal campaigns in which he netted No. 50 on home ice. Ovechkin joins Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy as just the third player in NHL history with 50 or more goals in four of his first five seasons in the league.
“Well it’s a pretty big number,” admits Ovechkin, “especially when you miss a couple games to suspension and got injured. You always want to score 50 goals, but sometimes you don’t have luck. Sometimes you just miss chances. But today, I think our line played well. Backy [Nicklas Backstrom
] gets three points I think and Sasha [Alexander Semin
]. So our line played well.”
Ovechkin is the first NHL player since 1995-96 to record 50 goals while playing in 72 or fewer games in a season. Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux (70 games) and Washington’s Peter Bondra (67 games) both did so in that season.
Ovechkin now has 28 goals and 59 points in 36 career games against Atlanta.
With a three-point (two goals, assist) night against the Thrashers, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom
joins Ovechkin, Dennis Maruk and Mike Gartner as just the fourth Capitals player ever to record 100 or more points in a single season.
Backstrom (101 points) and Ovechkin (109 points) are the first Capitals duo to notch 100 or more points in the same season.
Backstrom and Ovechkin are the eighth duo to achieve 100 points and 50 goals, respectively, in the same game. They are the first to do so since Edmonton’s Craig Simpson (50 goals) and Mark Messier (100 points) turned the trick on March 15, 1988.
Tonight’s win was Washington’s 30th on home ice this season, matching a franchise mark established in 1985-86.
The victory was also the 30th of the season for goaltender Jose Theodore, who made 29 saves to raise his record to 30-7-7 on the season. Theodore is 20-0-3 since Jan. 12. He has a 2.58 GAA and a .922 save pct. during that span.
With his assist on Jason Chimera
’s third-period goal, Washington center Eric Belanger reaches the 40-point level for the first time in his NHL career.
Washington is now 11-0-3 in games in which it has 40 or more shots on goal in a game this season.
Young Guns – Mike Green
recorded his 56th assist of the season, giving him 75 points in 74 games. With one game remaining in the regular season, Green’s assist ensures that all four of Washington’s “Young Guns” – Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green and Alexander Semin
– will all finish the campaign with an average of at least a point per game for the second consecutive season.
Semin had three primary assists against the Thrashers, giving him 44 helpers for the season. He is one shy of matching his single-season career best of 45 established in 2008-09.
Semin also had 11 shots on goal in the game, matching his single-game career best set earlier this season (Nov. 11 vs. New York Islanders).
Big Plus –
Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz
was plus-4 with an assist on Friday against Atlanta. He is now plus-9 with three assists in his last two games. Schultz leads the NHL at plus-48 on the season. With 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) on the season, Schultz is tied with Tom Poti
for second on the team in scoring among defensemen.
Running The Table –
Washington forged a perfect 6-0 record against the Thrashers this season. The Capitals outscored Atlanta by a combined 29-13 in the half dozen games.
Happy Birthday –
To ex-Caps winger and current Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet, born on this day in 1964.
By The Numbers – Boyd Gordon
paced the Caps in the face-off circle with six wins in eight tries (75%) … Shaone Morrisonn led the Capitals with three blocked shots … Zach Bgosian led the Thrashers with four blocked shots … Tyler Sloan
was the only one of Washington’s 18 skaters who did not record a shot on goal in the game … Washington is 38-7-6 when it scores the game’s first goal.
Down On The Farm –
The AHL Hershey Bears became the first team in AHL history to win 60 games in a single season on Friday when they spanked the Norfolk Admirals 6-1 at The Scope in Norfolk.
Alexandre Giroux had a hat trick for Hershey, pulling to within a goal of 50 for the season with one game remaining. Giroux did reach the 100-point mark for the second straight season. He joins Keith Aucoin
as the second Bear to reach the century level this season. It is the first time in Hershey’s illustrious hockey history that two players have reached 100 points for the Bears in the same campaign.
Ashton Rome (his sixth), Andrew Joudrey (his 15th) and Andrew Gordon (his 37th) also sored for the Bears.
made 23 saves to run his record to 24-8-1-2 on the season. Hershey closes out the 2009-10 regular season
With a win in the season finale, the Bears can eclipse the AHL’s all-time single-season record for points in a season. The 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers had 124 points; Hershey currently sits at 123.
Hershey opens pursuit of its defense of the Calder Cup title on Wednesday at Giant Center when it plays Game 1 of the East Division semifinal series against an as-yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays fell 1-0 in overtime in Game 3 of their opening round Kelly Cup playoff series against Cincinnati. The Stingrays must now win both Saturday’s Game 4 and Sunday’s Game 5 to stave off elimination and advance to the next round. Both games this weekend will be played at North Charleston Coliseum.
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