Leading up to tonight's game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals all the buzz in the media was centered around the potential retribution Alex Ovechkin might face after his "hot stick" 50th goal celebration the last time these two teams faced off. Washington Capitals' coach Bruce Boudreau, finally fed up with answering questions about the incident, gave reporters an earful the other day, telling them the issue was dead, and essentially that everyone but the media had forgotten about it. However, despite Boudreau's protestations many felt that tonight's game had the potential to be a powder keg. Well, as it turned out, any person who attended tonight's game hoping to see a brawl was likely sadly disappointed. But those who came out to see Ovie do his thing definitely got their money's worth.
Ovechkin was once again wielding a hot stick tonight, and was named the game's 2nd star with 2 goals and 2 assists, including an empty netter late in the 3rd that salted away the 5-3 win for the Caps. Ovechkin, as has been his reputation since entering the league, did not shy away from the physical game. He was given a hard ride by Tampa's Matt Smaby, but went right back at the 6' 6" defenseman and gave back a good lick of his own.
With that game out of the way media can put the whole 50th goal celebration to bed and go back to focusing on what Ovechkin does best: put pucks in the net. Ovechkin's 4 point performance tonight gives him an even 100 for the season and pulls him to within 6 of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the Art Ross Trophy race. It should provide some compelling drama down the stretch, especially with the Penguins and Capitals on a potential collision course in the first round of the playoffs. However it pans out, one thing is for sure: While the Bruce Boudreau's Caps are gearing up for the playoffs Rick Tocchet and his Tampa Bay Lightning will be dusting off the golf clubs, and by the time they face one another again all this so-called bad blood between the two teams will be long forgotten.