For anyone who was wondering what happens when a recently-eliminated and under-manned NHL squad runs up against the most skilled team in the League looking for little more than some pre-playoffs stat-padding, wonder no more.
With several regulars sitting and others sitting on the cusp of milestones and League leaderships, the Caps disposed of a Thrashers team that was tied with their hosts after forty minutes (thanks largely to the outstanding goaltending they received from their franchise's future in net), but saw the floodgates open in a three-goals-in-3:16 span of the third period. In defeat, Atlanta was reminded yet again: when the Caps flip the switch, look out.
Ten more notes on the game:
Alex Ovechkin's 50th goal and 109th point of the season were the big stories of the night, as the two-time reigning MVP re-took the League lead in both categories (and his plus-three wasn't bad either). AO is now just the fourth player in the past 15 seasons to have 50 goals and 59 assists in a season.
- Fittingly, Nicklas Backstrom set up Ovechkin's 50th goal and the helper gave him 100 points on the season for the first time in his career (here's the puck to prove it). Backstrom is now only the fifth player in the past 13 seasons to have 33 goals and 68 assists in a season.
- Sticking with the milestone theme, Jose Theodore was solid in picking up his 30th win of the season, surrendering only a shorthanded breakaway goal and an own-goal off Brendan Morrison's foot along the way. Theodore is now 19-0-2/2.54/.923 in games he has started in 2010.
- With a plus-four on the night (joining Backstrom and Alexander Semin with that game-high number), Jeff Schultz is now plus-48 on the season. Only Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk and Chris Pronger have ended a season this century with a better plus-minus (all three were plus-52). Schultz is now plus-nine in his last two games.
- Semin continues to be pretty locked in, tallying three assists on the night and firing 11 shots on goal. Think he'd like to hit 40 goals?
- On to a substantive point (what?), Ovechkin's 50th goal was a good example of how to execute a 3-on-2 (and in stark contrast to a recent Tomas Fleischmann-Eric Belanger-Eric Fehr 3-on-2) in that the forwards were staggered, creating some depth and spacing on the play and making themselves hard to cover. Of course, having that rocket launcher of a shot doesn't hurt either.
- With Scott Walker and Quintin Laing flanking Boyd Gordon on the fourth line, it was going to be close as to whether that line would combine for more shifts on the night or teeth in their mouths. Well, they skated 42 shifts so... push?
- Back to B-Mo for a b-moment, he was b-rutal on the night and might have to get b-etter real quick if he wants a sweater for Game 1 of the playoffs.
- Says here I should compliment Tyler Sloan for his slick poke-check on Maxim Afinogenov in the first, so there it is. Sloan, by the way, was the only Cap skater on the night not to register a shot on goal and, along with Morrison, was the only Cap to end the night with a minus rating.
- The Caps aren't going to win many games in which they're 0-for-5 on the power play and are actually outscored on their own man advantage. Don't make a habit of either, boys.
Eighty-one down, one to go. Milestones hit (with some still remaining), individual candidacies bolstered. Sixty minutes of hockey left before it all starts to matter... again.