Capitals Lock Up Second Place in East

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Associated Press
Thursday, April 9, 2009; 10:10 PM

TAMPA, Fla. -- Brooks Laich had two goals and the Washington Capitals secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Laich and David Steckel scored 31 seconds apart early in the second to gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead.

With the victory, Washington set a franchise record with 108 points and tied a team mark with 50 wins, which also was accomplished during the 1985-86 season.

The Capitals have won 11 consecutive games against Tampa Bay. It ties an 11-game winning streak from March 12, 1998, to March 15, 2000, against the New York Islanders for the longest victory run over one opponent in team history.

Steven Stamkos and Matt Pettinger scored for the Lightning, who have lost eight in a row and 11 of 12. Tampa Bay will end the season with the NHL's worst home record at 12-18-11.

Stamkos set a Tampa Bay record for rookies with his 22nd goal of the season to make it 1-0 just 36 seconds into the game. He had shared the mark with Brad Richards, who had 21 goals during his rookie season in 2000-01.

Laich tied it 1 on a power-play rebound goal at 9:19 of the first.

Pettinger cut the Tampa Bay deficit to 3-2 with 7:07 left in the third. Mike Green scored an empty-goal with 4.8 seconds to play.

Notes: Washington left wing Alexander Ovechkin, second in the NHL scoring race with 108 points, didn't have a point. The league-leader with 55 goals has not scored a goal in his last three games. Notes: Referee Don Koharski worked his final game, ending a 32-year on-ice NHL career. Many of the players shook hands with Koharski after the game ended. ... Green also had two assists, giving him 73 points for the season. ... Capitals D Tom Poti (groin) was out of the lineup. With the playoffs upcoming, Washington is taking a conservative approach with Poti, who has missed two straight games. ... Washington G Jose Theodore played in his 500th NHL game. ... Capitals LW Donald Brashear (knee) and C Boyd Gordon (finger) didn't play.


© 2009 The Associated Press

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