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Ovechkin's Return, Strong Defense Lead Washington Capitals to Win

WASHINGTON - MARCH 08:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his third period goal against the Dallas Stars with his teammates on March 8, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The Stars defeated the Caps 4-3 after a shootout.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Renee PerronContributor IMarch 21, 2010

Last night Capitals fans breathed a sigh of relief when they say Alex Ovechkin back on the ice.  After serving his two-game suspension the team's captain came back and helped his team beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1. 

At first, Ovechkin seemed to be getting used to the ice again, but after an impressive breakaway goal in the first period he was back to his old self.

Ovechkin has been criticized recently for playing hard, as if each game like it were his last, but his intensity seemed to help the Caps last night during an aggressive game with their division rivals.

The Caps haven't looked that good in the past few games, but last night they looked solid. The two additional goals scored by Semin and Fleischman looked seamless.  Theodore had 33 saves and looked playoff-ready. 

What was most impressive was the defense. 

The Capitals have clearly been working hard on their defense, and it shows.  Despite the fact that Tampa Bay was awarded seven power plays, they didn't manage to score during one of them. 

It's not like Tampa Bay didn't play well either.  Their defense looked intimidating throughout the game and limited many of the Caps' scoring chances.

The return of their captain pushed the Caps to play at their best, and fans don't need to worry: they're ready for the playoffs.

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