Not just the Great 8
Alex Ovechkin is scary enough to play against by himself. Now he's got a pretty good supporting cast.
Tomas Fleischmann and Nicklas Backstrom used two "here, have a goal" giveaway coupons granted to them by Pittsburgh early in the third period and Washington outgunned the Penguins, 6-3, in the teams' first meeting since Pittsburgh earned a 6-2 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Fleischmann broke a 3-3 tie 2:32 into the third, taking an excellent lead pass from Alexander Semin, and beat Brent Johnson on a breakaway. Less than a minute later, Backstrom walked out in front of Pittsburgh's net unchallenged on a power play and went top shelf on Johnson for a 5-3 lead.
Ovechkin scored a pair of goals and added an assist, capping the night with an empty netter from his own end. Mike Knuble also scored for the Capitals, who got 35 saves from Jose Theodore.
Sidney Crosby scored his 33rd goal, Nick Johnson his first in his NHL debut, and Kris Letang scored for Pittsburgh. Ruslan Fedotenko and Evgeni Malkin each had three assists.
Palm of hand, meet forehead
What must Ron Wilson be thinking when Toronto took a too many men on the ice penalty in overtime? Hint: It's not printable (Internet-able?) on this family blog.
Martin St. Louis scored with 10 seconds remaining after Tampa Bay went on a power play in the final minute of overtime and the Lightning came back to defeat Toronto, 3-2.
Ryan Malone's goal with 3:49 remaining in regulation forced a 2-2 tie. Four of the game's five goals were scored with the man advantage, and there were 13 total 5-on-4 situations. Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists and Vincent Lecavalier had three helpers for the Lightning.
Matt Stajan and Ian White both had power play goals for the Maple Leafs.
In other action
--Third-period goals by Antoine Vermette and R.J. Umberger gave Columbus a 3-2 win over Boston. Steve Mason made 32 saves for his first win since Dec. 28.
--Dwayne Roloson (33 saves) out-dueled Tomas Vokoun (35 saves) to lead the Islanders to a 2-1 shootout win over Florida, getting tiebreaker goals from Robbie Schremp and Matt Moulson.
--Peter Regin had a goal and two assists, all on the power play, for Ottawa in a 3-2 win over St. Louis.
--So much for that high-powered Rangers offense. Ray Emery made 24 saves and Philadelphia got goals from James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards to blank New York, 2-0. Shockingly, the game included four fights. Legitimately shockingly, one involved Marian Gaborik against Daniel Carcillo.
--Eric Staal's hat trick in his first game as Carolina captain, plus Cam Ward's 32 saves, powered Carolina to a 5-2 win over Atlanta.
--Drew Miller scored once in regulation and again in Round 8 of the shootout to give Detroit a 4-3 win over Minnesota.
--Scottie Upshall's natural hat trick in a span of 10:25 in the third period turned a 2-1 Phoenix deficit into a 4-2 Coyotes win over Nashville. Ilya Bryzgalov made 41 saves.
--Well, it wasn't 9-1. Antti Niemi needed to make just 19 saves and Chicago edged Calgary, 3-1, getting goals from Patrick Kane, Ben Eager off his skate and Duncan Keith into an empty net.
--Christian Ehrhoff and Kyle Wellwood scored in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and give Vancouver a 4-3 win over Dallas. Henrik Sedin had one assist.
--Patrick Marleau's 35th goal and two assists led San Jose's 3-1 win over Anaheim.
--Jon Quick made 26 saves and two in the shootout, including a breakdance-like save, for Los Angeles in a 4-3 win over Buffalo.
Stat of the night
1,200 - Senators forward Alexei Kovalev dressed for his 1,200th career game Thursday. But he tried hard in only 729 of those. (Oh snap!) He had two assists.
Quote of the night
"On special teams, I don't want to use the word horrific, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind."
Atlanta coach John Anderson. The Thrashers were 0-for-6 on the power play and allowed three power play goals on four penalty kills. Horrific is indeed the word, John.
Friday, Jan. 22 (3 games)
-Nashville (29-18-3) at Colorado (28-15-6), 9 p.m. ET. Same thing I wrote yesterday, two teams the rest of us are still trying to figure out if they're for real or not.