» This Story:Read +| Comments

Caps Close In on Second Seed

Backup Goalie Varlamov Stymies Thrashers in Opener of Three-Game Trip: Capitals 4, Thrashers 2

Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 8, 2009; Page D01

ATLANTA, April 7 -- In each of their previous visits to Philips Arena this season, the Washington Capitals left wondering how an Atlanta Thrashers team so far behind them in the standings had beaten them so badly.

This Story

In the third and final meeting here, rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov made sure they had no such regrets.

Varlamov stopped 29 shots, including the final 18 he faced, and Sergei Fedorov scored an insurance goal late in the third period to help the Washington Capitals earn a ho-hum 4-2 victory that was described by Coach Bruce Boudreau as "ugly."

"I think we played just as good as we had to play," said Boudreau, whose team had suffered 7-4 and 5-1 losses here earlier this season.

The victory, Washington's fourth in the past five games (4-0-1), edged it closer to clinching the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals now lead the New Jersey Devils 106-102 with both teams having two games left to play.

Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, registered a pair of assists but failed to gain any ground on Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the race for a second straight scoring title. Malkin notched two assists in the Penguins' 6-4 win in Tampa to retain a two-point cushion, 110-108. Malkin also has two games remaining.

Ovechkin was pleased with the result but not particularly impressed with the Capitals' performance or the revamped top line, which comprised him, Fedorov and Alexander Semin. The trio accounted for two goals, but Ovechkin said they lacked cohesion and combined for too many turnovers.

"There were no emotions, no good crowd, you know?" he said. "It was hard to play hockey here. It's a hard situation for Atlanta right now. It's only two games in the season and they go to vacation. We're in the playoffs. All of our minds are in the playoffs."

Ovechkin was also the subject of some teasing by the Thrashers that Boudreau called "tasteless."

Late in the first period, the game production staff poked fun at Ovechkin's Eastern Motors commercial in which the reigning MVP sings and dances awkwardly. The video ended with Thrashers all-star Ilya Kovalchuk looking at the camera and shaking his head before saying, "Ovie, next time call me."

Ovechkin cracked a smile when it was shown and later said he had no problem with the video. Boudreau, though, was not happy.

"I like the stuff they do, but I thought that was over the line," Boudreau said. "I know it was all in fun, but that was over the line. I wasn't a big fan of that. If they want to mock their own players, fine, mock their own players like that."


CONTINUED     1        >



» This Story:Read +| Comments

More in the Capitals Section

Capitals Insider

Capitals Insider

The Post's Tarik El-Bashir provides exclusive analysis and updates you with all of the latest Capitals news.

Alex Ovechkin

Goal Oriented

Alex Ovechkin could become the greatest player in hockey, thanks to his mother.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company