NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Washington
(Thursday, April 1st)
Final Score: Washington 2, Atlanta 1
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Matt Bradley scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period, as the Washington Capitals edged the playoff- hopeful Atlanta Thrashers, 2-1, at Verizon Center.
Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, who tied a franchise record with their 50th win of the season. With the division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference secured, Washington is playing for the best record in the league. The Caps are now eight points ahead of idle San Jose for the Presidents' Trophy.
Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves for the Capitals, who snapped a three-game skid.
"I thought as a team, we just decided to shut it down," Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He [Bradley] has nine goals, which is the most he's had since I've been here. It has been a while since he scored, but he does his job. He comes out and he tries, so I don't know how you get mad at him or think that he is one who is not doing his job, because he knows what his job is. It's to prevent other people from scoring, not scoring goals. He did it tonight and well, everyone gets rewarded now and again."
Tim Stapleton scored the lone goal for the Thrashers, who have 80 points and remain two points back of Montreal, Philadelphia and Boston for the final three playoff berths in the conference. The Bruins lost to the Panthers, the Flyers fell to the Islanders -- both in regulation -- and the Canadiens didn't play Thursday.
Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 22-of-24 shots for Atlanta, which has lost all five of its games with Washington this season. The two clubs meet once more this year -- April 9 in Washington.
With the score tied 1-1 in the third, Bradley lit the lamp at the 9:46 mark to give the Capitals the edge. Bradley gathered the puck at the side of the net and stuffed a backhander through the legs of Pavelec.
Atlanta pulled Pavelec in the final minute of regulation for an extra attacker, but Varlamov held strong to preserve the victory.
"We just weren't able to get that next one," Thrashers forward Colby Armstrong said. "That's a big difference right now, finding ways to win."
The Capitals drew first blood with 58 seconds left in the first period. Mike Green blasted a shot from the point that was deflected into the back of the net by Backstrom.
Stapleton's second career NHL goal with 2:09 remaining in the second tied things up. Colby Armstrong drew a pair of defenders along the left boards before sliding a pass to the slot for an open Stapleton, whose snap shot found the upper right corner of the net.
The Caps went 1-1-1 on a three-game homestand...The Thrashers have also been defeated in six straight and seven of their last eight trips to D.C. Atlanta's last road victory over the Capitals came on February 2, 2008...Thrashers defenseman Pavel Kubina (upper body) missed the game...Washington has a superb 28-5-5 record as the host this season.
04/01 23:45:50 ET