Quantity 60 For Alex Ovechkin: Retro Recap: Washington Capitals vs Atlanta Thrashers, March 21, 2008

Photograph: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals have had many memorable video games late within the month of March,  the official starting of springtime. It’s usually a timeframe when groups are solidifying their playoff place or making a late push to easily qualify for the playoffs.

Within the spring of 2008, the Capitals had been merely making an attempt to make the playoffs. They had been on the backside of the NHL on Thanksgiving Day and nonetheless close to the underside on New 12 months’s Day. By late March the Capitals had been battling for a playoff spot as they visited the Atlanta Thrashers on March 21, 2008.


This go to to Atlanta was the third recreation on a six recreation highway swing for the Capitals. The Caps had been 33-30-8 and had been in tenth place total within the Japanese Convention however simply two factors shy of eighth place and a playoff berth.

The Caps had gone 8-4 for the reason that commerce deadline and felt good about their total recreation, regardless that they’d misplaced their most up-to-date recreation, 5-0, to the Chicago Black Hawks in Chicago.

In the meantime the Thrashers had been 31-37-8. They’d misplaced their earlier 4 video games and 6 out of their final seven. Previous to that, they’d compiled an eight-game shedding streak, which began in mid-February and dragged on via early March. The Caps had crushed the Thrashers 4-1 of their most up-to-date head-to-head matchup on March 16.

The Thrashers’ main scorer was Ilya Kovalchuk, who had 50 targets on the season already. The Caps’ main scorer was Alex Ovechkin who had 58 targets going into the sport, approaching the 60-goal threshold, which no one within the NHL had reached for greater than 12 years.

On the damage entrance, the Caps had been lacking middle Michael Nylander, who had rotator cuff surgical procedure, proper winger Chris Clark winger Donald Brashear, and defensemen Brian Pothier and John Erskine.

The goaltending matchup was Cristobal Huet for the Capitals in opposition to Kari Lehtonen for the Thrashers. The Caps had acquired Huet from the Montreal Canadiens on the commerce deadline.

As a result of Kolzig may not carry out on the excessive degree he was accustomed to taking part in at up to now, the Caps felt they wanted assist in goaltending. Kolzig was the shedding goaltender of their current loss to Chicago.

Photographs: NHL by way of Getty Pictures

First Interval

The primary interval was comparatively quiet initially. Boris Valabik of the Thrashers was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct at 3:00 and Sergei Fedorov of the Caps was penalized for boarding at 12:37, however neither crew may convert on the following energy performs.

However lower than a minute after Sergei Fedorov’s penalty expired and the the Caps had been again at even energy, Alex  Ovechkin scored his 59th aim of the season at 15:18.  He was assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov. The Caps now led 1-0, a margin that held up via first intermission. For the interval, the Caps had eight photographs on aim whereas the Thrashers had simply six.

 Second Interval

The second interval was a distinct story. At 3:33, Quintin Laing was despatched to the penalty field for hooking, Practically 40 seconds later, Tobias Engstrom of the Thrashers potted the sport tying aim at 4:11. He was assisted by Mark Recchi and Vyacheslav Kozlov. This was Engstrom’s sixth aim of the season.

At 7:25, the Caps obtained an influence play of their very own when Bobby Holik earned a delay of recreation penalty for taking pictures the puck out of play. Nonetheless, 30 seconds into the ability play, Jim Slater acquired a breakaway probability after receiving a move from Eric Perrin and scored a short-handed aim for his fifth aim of the season. The Thrashers now led 2-1.

Slater added one other aim for the Thrashers with slightly below 4 minutes left within the interval, at 16:06. He was assisted by Eric Perrin and Colby Armstrong.

A irritating interval for the Caps ended with the rating nonetheless 3-1. The Caps outshot the Thrashers 14-10.

[Note: Slater, who scored the two goals for the Thrashers, eventually got a position in Player Development for the Capitals, a position he has held since September 2019.]

Third Interval

The Caps lastly scored with their sixteenth shot of the interval at 11:30 when Alex Ovechkin scored his second aim of the identical and his 60th aim of the season. He tied Dennis Maruk’s franchise document with that aim.

This aim was the primary time for the reason that 1995-96 season that an NHL participant scored 60 targets in a season. Throughout that season, each Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr topped that milestone, with Lemieux getting 69 targets and Jagr getting 62.

For his milestone aim, Ovechkin was assisted by Mike Inexperienced and Tom Poti. The Caps had lower their deficit to 3-2.

At 16:00, Nicklas Backstrom scored the tying aim with 4 minutes left within the recreation, getting assists from Mike Inexperienced and goalie Cristobal Huet. The rating was now 3-3. Simply 32 seconds later, Backstrom scored his second aim of the sport, getting an help from Ovechkin, which put the Caps forward 4-3.

Boyd Gordon added an empty web aim with lower than a second left to provide the Caps an insurance coverage aim and a 5-3 lead. He acquired assists from Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin.

The ultimate rating was 5-3. In the end, the Caps had 23 photographs for third interval, versus simply two for the Thrashers. For the sport, the Caps had 45 photographs to the Thrashers’ 18.

 Publish Sport

Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau spoke to the media after the sport, “Not in a single interval, however there was fairly a way of urgency. I believed we had been actually unhealthy within the second. We knew how tough it might be if we didn’t come dwelling with two factors on this recreation that it was going to be an actual uphill climb to make the playoffs. Not that it already isn’t.” Mentioned Boudreau.

“I believe it was a case of a crew actually wanting it extra and having one thing to play for. When you get into that stop protection, boy, it’s arduous to get out of it. And that’s what occurred. I believed Lehtonen was extraordinarily good within the third interval for a man that allow in three targets. We simply saved coming. It was a superb signal.”

Boudreau additionally talked about whether or not the results of the sport saved the Caps’ season.

“It didn’t reserve it, nevertheless it’s certain going to make me sleep a bit simpler till Tuesday. That’s for certain. It’s a recreation, while you’re forward of a crew within the standings, you’re actually relying on successful this recreation. We knew they had been going to come back out and provides it the whole lot they’ve acquired. What else do you could have apart from to be a spoiler to get satisfaction out of it? They usually performed actually good I believed within the first and second. They’d a variety of vitality. However as soon as we began to come back in and mainly exerted our will on them, I believed we had been a lot hungrier within the third interval.”

Ovechkin talked to the media about the truth that it was a giant win.

“It’s a giant win for us. We performed effectively within the first interval. After we make a pair errors they usually rating three targets, we simply say, ‘Guys, it’s our probability and we will’t cease. We combat for this all 12 months. We are able to’t simply let it go.’ It was a really massive recreation for us and I’m blissful for the crew,” mentioned Ovechkin.

“We simply began working. It’s all about work on our crew. If we would like it, we will beat each crew. We began to play effectively at first of the third interval. We dominate them they usually don’t have probabilities to attain aim. We play three traces and everyone push one another, combat [for] one another and we get outcomes.”

Ovechkin additionally talked about his targets.

“It’s all the time enjoyable to attain targets, particularly when it’s necessary targets. It was an important aim for my crew. Sixty is 60.”

He was requested about what number of extra targets he may rating and he replied, “I don’t know. I don’t give it some thought. I simply do my job. I don’t take into consideration private targets. It’s simply the crew. We’ve to take each level we will get.”

Head Coach Bruce Boudreau additionally talked about Ovechkin’s efficiency.

“If there’s ever a case for who’s the MVP of the league, I’ve acquired to imagine he mentioned it on the ice tonight. I believed within the third interval he mentioned, ‘Get on my again and we’re going to go.’ I believed he was phenomenal within the third interval.”


The Caps had been now 37-31-8 and seven factors behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the Southeast Division lead. The Caps returned dwelling to apply for 2 days earlier than resuming their lengthy highway journey within the south.

The win over the Thrashers turned out to be the primary win of a season-ending successful streak the place they finally overtook the Carolina Hurricanes for first place within the division.

Ovechkin went on to attain 65 targets for the season.  Sadly, the Caps misplaced the primary spherical of the playoffs to the Philadelphia Flyers in seven video games.

Ovechkin ended up main the NHL in factors in addition to targets, incomes him the Rocket Richard Trophy for many targets, the Artwork Ross Trophy for many factors, the Lester Pearson trophy for greatest participant as voted for by the gamers, and the Hart Trophy for Most Priceless participant.  Head Coach Bruce Boudreau gained the Jack Adams Trophy for Greatest Coach.

Associated Studying
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From Kolzig to Holtby: Wanting On the Washington Capitals’ Goalie Carousel; Half 1
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ESPN Account of Sport

By Diane Doyle

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