WASHINGTON - There was one pretty valuable puck being passed around Friday night in the Washington Capitals dressing room. Its future as a complete entity may be in jeopardy, though.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice to become the NHL's first 50-goal scorer this season and added an assist to move into the League scoring lead as well, leading the Capitals to a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers in a playoff tune-up. Ovechkin tallied his 50th goal for the game-winner midway through the third period. But Backstrom also earned his 100th point on the play.
They posed with the puck together for photos after the game.
"We're talking about splitting it in two halves," Backstrom said. "We'll see how it is going to be. It was kind of a funny moment actually."
When asked how such a maneuver will take place, Ovechkin responded, "I don't know yet."
Ovechkin scored his two goals after his turnover at the left point led to a shorthanded goal for Atlanta's Clarke MacArthur. He reached 50 for the fourth time in his five NHL seasons. Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy are the only other players in NHL history to accomplish that feat.
The two-time defending League MVP also leapfrogged Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals.
"It is a pretty big number, especially when I missed a couple games when I got suspended and got injured," Ovechkin said. "You always want to score 50 goals, but sometimes you don't have luck and sometimes you miss the chances. Today I think our line played pretty well. [Backstrom] had three points and [Semin] had three points. We played well."
He also assisted on Backstrom's first-period goal and ended the night with 109 points, one ahead of Vancouver's Henrik Sedin in the scoring race.
The 100-point season is the first for Backstrom, who added a third-period goal to give him 33 for he season. The third-year center is only the fourth player to reach 100 points in a Capitals uniform, joining Ovechkin, Dennis Maruk and Mike Gartner.
Backstrom is fourth in the NHL in scoring and cut Crosby's lead for third down to three points. Ovechkin and Backstrom are the first teammates to reach 100 points in the same season in franchise history.
"Before the game we talked about it like, 'Let's go. Tonight is going to be our night,'" Ovechkin said. "We just had to make some points. He gets 100 points, and it is a pretty big deal for him."
Backstrom gave the Capitals the lead with the lone goal of the first period before Atlanta came back with two less than two minutes apart in the second. Ovechkin went over to goaltender Jose Theodore to apologize for his mistake on MacArthur's goal -- and his line then took the game over.
Ovechkin made it 2-2 at 16:04 of the second on a one-timer off a pass from Semin following a turnover. He put the Capitals in front by completing a 3-on-2 rush with Semin and Backstrom at 9:49 of the third.
After Jason Chimera pushed the lead to two goals at 12:16, Backstrom got his second of the contest 49 seconds later by pouncing on a rebound at the top of the crease.
"There's not too many nights when they're not going, but when they are really flying it is amazing to watch," forward Scott Walker said. "It is almost unstoppable. They're just so dynamic, but they work hard and enjoy the game and that is what you love to see."
The offensive accomplishments overshadowed those of Theodore, who made 29 saves for his 30th victory of the season. It is the fourth time he's reached the plateau in his career and the second time in as many seasons with Washington.
Theodore improved to 20-0-3 in his past 23 decisions and still hasn't lost in regulation since Jan. 12. He is one of seven goalies to have 30-plus wins in each of the past two seasons.
"I feel pretty good," Theodore said. "I kept my focus for 60 minutes. In the third I made a couple of big saves and then the guys picked it up and scored some big goals."
Washington has 120 points this season with one game remaining. The Capitals are only the fourth NHL franchise to record that many points -- and the first non-Original Six club to do so.
"They're a bit of a juggernaut," said Atlanta coach John Anderson, whose club already was eliminated from playoff contention, "and we're not the only team they've done that to."
They had a pre-game ceremony to celebrate winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was on hand to present the trophy to Ovechkin, who skated over to pose for pictures but didn't want to touch it.
"Right away in the morning skate [media relations director Nate Ewell] and Bruce [Boudreau] tell me, 'Don't touch it. Don't touch it.' I just said, 'I know. I know.' "
"We just wait for the big things coming."