WASHINGTON (AP) — Like a shortstop fielding a line drive, Tomas
Fleischmann stuck his glove in the air and caught the puck.
About a second later, he became the first of a half-dozen
Washington Capitals to score — and none of the six were named
Those weren’t the usual suspects producing for the Capitals on
Sunday as they wrapped up their home regular-season schedule
with a 6-4 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.
“It’s great to finally have some scoring from all over the
place,” said Eric Fehr, one of four Washington players to score
in the third period. “Ovie’s been carrying the workload pretty
much all year.”
Fehr’s goal was only his second since Feb. 26. Michael Nylander
tallied for only the second time since Feb. 3. Minor-league
callup Keith Aucoin kept up his bid for a spot on the playoff
roster with his second goal in two games.
But Fleischmann was the one really slumping. He had 15 goals in
mid-January but had scored only twice since then. He broke an
14-game drought when he gloved Nathan Oystrick’s clearing
attempt and dropped the puck directly in front of goal for the
easy shot past Johan Hedberg early in the first period.
“It was a break for me,” Fleischmann said. “I haven’t had a lot
of bounces for me lately.”
It’s just what coach Bruce Boudreau wanted to see from player
“The relief on his eyes when he finally scored was like, ‘Oh,
man, I CAN play the game,'” Boudreau said. “You start to doubt
yourself after a while, no matter who you are, when you have
trouble scoring. I hope that adds a little confidence to his
Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich — both more accustomed to
finding the net — scored the final two goals for the Capitals,
who moved two points ahead of the New Jersey Devils in the
battle for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Each team
has three games remaining.
Ovechkin remained at an NHL-leading 55 goals despite taking 11
shots, but he did get two assists in his pursuit of Evgeni
Malkin for the league’s points title.
Washington trailed 3-2 after two periods, but Boudreau ranted at
his players during the intermission and switched up the lines in
“We were sleepwalking, it seemed like, for two periods,”
Boudreau said. “I hope it doesn’t take me coming in and
screaming and yelling to get them going. They’ve got to learn to
do it on their own. You yell at your kids too much, they’ll tune
The Capitals finished with 29 wins at the Verizon Center, the
second-most home victories in franchise history. Washington was
virtually unbeatable on home ice during the first half of the
season, winning 18 of its first 20, but took only 11 of the last
Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 42nd goal, and Colby Armstrong, Jim
Slater and Slava Kozlov also netted for Atlanta. Despite being
out of playoff contention, the Thrashers had won four straight
— including three against teams still in the postseason race.
“We kept up for two periods,” defenseman Tobias Enstrom said,
“and it seemed like we got a little tired in the third and they
ran us down a little bit.”
The two teams meet again in Atlanta on Tuesday.
“Definitely not the way we’ve been playing lately,” Oystrick
said. “We’ve just got to shake it off and get ready for the next