Capitals top Blue Jackets, 3-2, to close in on their first Presidents' Trophy

Nicklas Backstrom, left, jumps past Derek Dorsett in a first period in which the Caps had three goals.
Nicklas Backstrom, left, jumps past Derek Dorsett in a first period in which the Caps had three goals. (Paul Vernon/associated Press)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 4, 2010

COLUMBUS, OHIO -- The Washington Capitals overwhelmed the Columbus Blue Jackets in the early going Saturday night, scoring three times in the opening 14 minutes. But they needed an equally impressive effort in the clutch from goaltender José Theodore to hang on for a record-breaking 3-2 victory at Nationwide Arena.

The win was No. 51 for the Capitals, one more than their previous record set in 1985-86 and then matched last season. It was also road win No. 23, which set another record.

"It's nice to set records," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It gives us a goal to shoot for next year. But it's more significant that Theo had a good game and that, for the most part, we were fairly good defensively."

In his previous two games, Theodore surrendered eight goals on 41 shots. Against the Blue Jackets, he was perhaps the Capitals' best player, stopping 34 shots, including all 14 he faced in the second period as his teammates were outshot by a two-to-one margin.

"I wanted a lot of scoring chances so I could get back to feeling the puck and making big saves," Theodore said. "I don't feel that my game was that way off."

Alexander Semin, Tomas Fleischmann and Mike Green supplied the offense. But it was Theodore who earned the No. 1 star.

The veteran goalie spoke to reporters as a dance beat thumped in a celebratory visitors' dressing room.

"We have one more [regular season goal] to achieve and then it's going to be the playoffs," Theodore said with a smile, referring to the Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season record. They can clinch it with a San Jose loss (in regulation or overtime) on Sunday.

"That would be something new for this organization and for our guys," said Alex Ovechkin, who did not register a point. "But it's not a big deal. We want to win the big trophy."

Before the Capitals could toast their accomplishment Saturday, they had to sweat out a late comeback bid by Rick Nash and the Blue Jackets.

Nash set up Antoine Vermette for a second time with 7 minutes 43 seconds remaining to cut the Capitals' lead to 3-2. But the 24th-place Blue Jackets mustered only two more shots, and the Capitals held on for their second straight win.

"It's always the case," Boudreau said when asked if he thought his team let up after taking a 3-0 lead. You're thinking it's going to be 9-0, you think you're going to have a walk in the park and very rarely does it happen."

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