The Capitals had their work cut out for them in Blueland this evening as they faced Southeast Division rivals, the Atlanta Thrashers. In a showdown of two of the best Russian snipers in the league (Ovie and Kovy), the party got started early with a goal from Eric Fehr (with an assist from Jeff Schultz). Atlanta answered shortly after with a power play goal from former Sabre Maxim Afinogenov (who was paired on the Russian power line throughout the game alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Nik Antropov). Missing from the action for the visitors was fellow countryman Alex Semin, who was listed as "sick and ill" - not sure if he is sick or injured. Nonetheless, the Caps made up for his absence and then some with secondary scoring in the opening period. Alexandre Giroux, who was called up from Hershey, netted a second tally with help from Keith Aucoin. Not to be outdone (at least in the first period), Ilya Kovalchuk tied it up late in the first.
But Gabby's been asking for secondary scoring and secondary scoring he got in the second period as the Caps lit it up! The boys netted three goals in a span of around 88 seconds but the one that started the flood was one of the wackiest things I've ever seen! Semyon Varlamov cleared a puck out his zone to Jeff Schultz, who proceeded to send said puck across the entire sheet of ice until it bounced into the Thrasher's net. Schultz had quite an evening, notching his first three point game in his NHL career (with his own wild and wonderful goal in addition to assists on goals from Matt Bradley and Eric Fehr). Matt Bradley lit the lamp at the 11:34 mark and then it was Captain Clark's turn at 11:48! Bradley later dedicated his goal to the arrival of his baby niece. After that Caps onslaught, it was "buh-bye" for net minder Ondrej Pavelec who was yanked in favor of Johan Hedberg. So at the end of the second period, the Capitals had a pretty commanding lead of 5-2.
The bluemen (or make that men in garnet, rather, as they were sporting their red third jerseys) cut the lead by two early in the third. Young Zach Bogosian made a blistering short-handed goal on Varlamov, who really wishes he could've gotten that one back. Milan Jurcina went to the sin bin for interference midway through the third and Varly made a sharp series of stops against blazing shots from Kovalchuk and Pavel Kubina, as the boys killed the penalty. The Caps had plenty of time on the power play late in the game as Afinogenov and Kubina both went to the box. But no cigar as the boys went 0 for 7 on the power play this evening. And in the final minutes that left Caps fans on the edge of their seats, the boys started to lose it as one player after another was whistled for one infraction or another! In a nail-biting flurry of action, Ilya Kovalchuk whizzed one by Varlamov to cut the Caps hard-earned lead to one but that was the final tally for the Thrashers. Final score: Caps 5 - Thrashers 4