Capitals fall to Bruins, 4-3 in a shootout, in finale, but now it's time for the playoffs and the Canadiens

Capitals winger Jason Chimera and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas get into a fight in the first period.
Capitals winger Jason Chimera and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas get into a fight in the first period. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 12, 2010

The Washington Capitals surrendered a late lead Sunday en route to a 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins. But Alex Ovechkin and his teammates refused to dwell on a mostly meaningless defeat in the home dressing room at Verizon Center, where the mood was one of relief and anticipation.

Relief because no one got hurt in the regular season finale. Anticipation because they finally can focus on the time of year for which they'll be ultimately judged -- the playoffs, which begin Thursday night when Washington hosts Montreal in the clubs' first postseason meeting.

The Canadiens clinched the eighth seed when Philadelphia eliminated the New York Rangers with a 2-1 shootout victory at Wachovia Center, long after Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau and his players had left the arena.

"Well, we're really glad it's over," Boudreau said, referring to the regular season.

Alexander Semin reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career. But his good friend, Ovechkin, finished without a point despite skating a game-high 25 minutes 55 seconds and facing a Bruins lineup that did not include top defenseman Zdeno Chara, and thus conceded the scoring championship to Vancouver's Henrik Sedin (112-109) and the goal title to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, so congrats to Sedin," Ovechkin said. "He deserved it. He played great."

Crosby scored goals 50 and 51 on Long Island and Stamkos netted his 51st at Florida on Sunday, denying Ovechkin his third straight Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. The Capitals' star finished with 50.

"Right now, it's most important this is what is coming and everybody is healthy, everybody feeling good," Ovechkin said. "The last couple of games we didn't play our game. We didn't finish our checks because we want to save ourselves for the playoffs. I hope we're going to play our way in the playoffs."

Ovechkin and his teammates will take Monday off to rest after a grueling 82-game campaign. Boudreau and his staff, however, will report to the team's Arlington practice facility at sunrise and begin reviewing tape from the Capitals' four encounters with the Canadiens and their second-ranked power play this season.

The Capitals went 2-1-1 against Montreal, edging them by a combined score of 15-14. In those games, Montreal scored a total of five power-play goals against Washington's 25th-ranked penalty kill.

"I've played in Montreal in the playoffs," said veteran Mike Knuble, who notched his 29th goal of the season in the third period. "It's a fantastic place to play in the playoffs because of the atmosphere and the tension and the focus on hockey. As a player, it's just a really fun place to play."

"The real challenging thing about the first round," he added, "is that they are really hard to get out of."

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