An Even Dozen
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Capitals News
Nicklas Backstrom led the way with four assists to go along with his goal, the game winner. He put the Capitals out in front for good 5:34 into the third, when he picked up a loose puck and deftly snapped home his 24th of the season. That made it 6-5, the game's eventual final result; but the game was full of excitement along the way.
Alex Ovechkin reached the 500 career NHL point plateau, with two goals and an assist. He is in some rarified air with only eight other players having accomplished the feat - Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Stastny, Mike Bossy, Dale Hawerchuk, Bryan Trottier, Denis Savard and Jari Kurri. It's doubtful that any of the eight did it in a more spectacular fashion, as Ovi's 500th point will be on every hockey or sports highlight package for the evening. Breaking in from the left side, Ovechkin put a nifty curl-and-drag move on defenseman Michal Rozsival, who grabbed him as he went by. With Ovi only having one hand on his stick, he impossibly shoveled a one-hander at the net, and past Henrik Lundqvist, for one of the prettiest goals that you'll see this season.
Not only did the game feature eleven goals, but the teams went back and forth with three different lead changes. The Rangers opened the scoring at 11:03 of the period, with a power play goal by Ryan Callahan, when he deflected an Olli Jokinen shot from the point to make it 1-0.
The Caps tied it up with some great work down low from Boyd Gordon, that eventually resulted in him snapping him home a beautiful shot over Ranger goaltender Lundqist. Gordon had picked up a loose puck off of the end boards to keep it alive, and then worked his way back to the slot in front, to be in place for his third of the year.
NY didn't let the game stay tied for long though, Vinny Prospal snapped home a power play goal that made it 2-1 just ten seconds after the Gordon goal.
It stayed that way until the Caps made it 2-2 4:41 into the second, on a beautiful passing play. Ovechkin took the Rangers zone, and carried the puck behind the net before slipping a pass through the defenders skates, to Backstrom at the side of the net, who fed a beautiful backhand pass to Mike Knuble steaming through the slot. Lundqvist was lying helplessly on the ground, when Knuble slammed home his 20th goal of the season.
The Caps took their first lead of the game when Ovechkin scored a power play marker about two and a half minutes later. The Great 8 had the puck at the point, slid over into the middle, and just snapped home his 37th of the season from the top of the two circles.
Washington lost their discipline a little half-way through the third, and took some bad penalties, that turned into three consecutive power play goals for New York. Olie Jokined evened the game up at threes in his first game with the Rangers, to go along with his earlier assist. Prospal scored his second of the evening just forty seconds later to give the Rangers the lead again at 4-3; before Brandon Dubinsky stretched the margin to two at 5-3 with just 1:11 to play in the second.
Before the arena announcer had finished announcing the Ranger goal, Ovi was streaking down the wing for his highlight goal and 500th point. Make it 38 for The Great 8, as well as the league lead now in both goals and points. That goal put the Caps back close at 5-4 with less than ten seconds to go in the period, and let them go into the dressing room thinking about that twelfth straight win with added confidence.
It took less than a minute in the final frame for the Caps to even the score at 5-5. Tom Poti took advantage of the Rangers seeming to revel in a hit on Ovechkin, and just snapped the puck at the net on the power play, and it somehow got through. Poti had his third of the season, and the game had it's sixth of seven extra strength goals of the night.
Backstrom's aforementioned goal was the seventh and final power play tally of the game, and the comeback was complete. The Caps held on to the lead for the last fifteen minutes of the third, and eked out their twelfth victory in a row.
After the game, Ovechkin offered that, "We just want to win, that's it. We're pretty confident. It's a good atmosphere in the locker room. Everybody supports each other and everybody plays for each other. That's a good sign for us."
And for Caps fans too.
Other Game Notes:
Ovechkin overtook Henrik Sedin in the NHL scoring race, and having been banged up earlier in the season, the Russian superstar has done it in 7 fewer games (49, to Sedin's 56), but Vancouver has one game in hand... Backstrom is fifth overall in scoring with 69 points (24 goals, 45 assists)... Prospal had a four-point night in the losing effort, with two goals and two assists... the Caps remained atop the NHL point standings, who are just one point ahead of the Sharks who also won on Thursday evening (4-2 over the Blues)... there were FIFTEEN power plays - 9 for the Caps and 6 for the Rangers... Jose Theodore stopped 33 of 38 shots for the win... Jokinen had 3 penalties to go with his goal and an assist for a stat-filled debut.
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