Capitals-Rangers: Washington Keeps Rolling with 12th Consecutive Victory

Dave NicholsSenior Analyst IFebruary 4, 2010

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04:  Nicklas Backstrom #19 (2nd R) of the Washington Capitals celebrates his third period goal against the New York Rangers with teammates Tom Poti #3, Alex Ovechkin #8, and Tomas Fleischmann #14 on February 4, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Capitals defeated the Rangers 6-5.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals won their 12th consecutive game Thursday by defeating the New York Rangers 6-5 at storied Madison Square Garden.
Those words, however, don't do the game—or this team—justice.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and had an assist, and Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and four assists, leading the team's offensive output.
With three points, Ovechkin reached 500 points for his illustrious career.  It took the "Great Eight" only 373 games to reach that lofty record.
Jose Theodore had as good a game as anyone who gave up four goals, making 33 saves.  None was more critical than the shot with just under 12 seconds to go, as it came in from the slot and bounced up in front of his eyes. 
Theodore made a quick swipe with his catching glove and covered up, wresting away the Rangers' last, best shot at tying a game they led on several occasions—once by two goals.
New York scored four power play goals en route to their biggest offensive output in weeks.  The Caps responded in kind with two power play goals of their own in the third period.
Tom Poti sent a wrist shot toward Henrik Lundqvist less than a minute into the third that seemed to confuse the stellar goalie. It might have been tipped or deflected, but Poti received credit for the goal.
Less than five minutes later, Backstrom fired a shot from the high slot that beat Lundqvist cleanly. 
The goal capped a tremendous effort from the entire team after spending a good chunk of the game defending—poorly—on the penalty kill. 
The second period was a bizzare, back-and-forth, pond hockey type of affair.  Washington took four penalties in the second; New York, three—and the two teams exchanged six goals.
But the frame ended with Ovechkin, the captain, making a bull rush toward the Ranger net.  He put the puck between the defenseman's legs, and—one handed—flipped the puck over and past a sprawled Lundqvist to draw the team within one.
The goal, with seven seconds remaining in the second, broke the Rangers' momentum and steered it back in Washington's direction.
In what is now becoming habit, the Caps then steamrolled in the third, as the Rangers couldn't stay out of the box, taking five penalties against the league's No. 1 power play.
So the win streak runs to 12 games, and the Capitals race the impending snowstorm home to face the Atlanta Thrashers Friday night. The Thrashers will be a shell of their former selves, as they dealt their leading scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk, to the New Jersey Devils Thursday.
Should the Caps get lucky 13 on Friday, it'll set up a marquee matchup on Sunday—weather permitting—on national television with archenemy Pittsburgh.