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Recapping a Memorable Caps Season

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Washington started the 2010-11 season strong, compiling a record of 14-4-1 at mid-November. One of the highlights of those first six months was the Nov. 11 game at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington won, 6-3, with the first star of the game going to Alexander Semin, who recorded his second hat trick of the season and added a pair of assists. Semin went on to collect two more hat tricks during the season to bring his career total to seven as he became the first Capital with four three-goal games in a single season since Peter Bondra accomplished that feat during the 1995-96 season.

The Capitals entered the month of December with a 17-6-2 record before enduring an eight-game winless skid. Washington finished the 2010 calendar year with wins in four of its last five and with a record of 14-4-5 at Verizon Center, Washington boasted the best home performance in the league after the first 41 games.

January opened with much fanfare, as the Caps faced the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the annual NHL Winter Classic. Playing from behind on a rainy night, Washington scored three unanswered goals to ring in 2011 with a 3-1 win.

Washington closed out January with a record of 27-15-9 as the NHL took a break for the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Raleigh, N.C. Alex Ovechkin and defenseman Mike Green were chosen to represent the Capitals for the weekend’s festivities, with Ovechkin winning his third-straight breakaway challenge.

With the second half of the season well underway, the Capitals went on a season-high, nine-game winning streak from Feb. 26 -Mar. 15, bringing their record to 41-20-10. Washington reclaimed the top spot in the Southeast Division during their lengthiest winning streak since the franchise-record, 14-game run from Jan. 13-Feb. 7, 2010. During the winning streak, rookie Marcus Johansson had a four-game point streak (two goals, three assists) and finished his first NHL season tied for 16th in the league in rookie scoring with 27 points and 13th among rookies in goals with 13. Veteran Mike Knuble added six points (three goals, three assists) during that stretch. Knuble scored 24 goals this season, marking the eighth consecutive year in which he has scored 20 or more goals and is one of only eight active players in the league to have scored at least 20 goals in eight straight seasons.

The Caps went 7-2-1 in their final 10 games, finishing the season with a record of 48-23-11. Their 107 points secured their fourth consecutive Southeast Division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference for a second-straight season.

The Capitals’ commitment to defense made all the difference in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the eighth-seeded New York Rangers; their wins came by a two-point margin in Games 2 and 5 and a one-point margin in Games 1 and 4. Alexander Semin scored at 18:24 of overtime in Game 1, completing the comeback and giving Washington a 1-0 lead in the series. The Caps won their second game at Verizon Center before dropping Game 3 in New York. Trailing 3-0 in the third period of Game 4, the Caps staged an improbable comeback, capped off by Jason Chimera’s double-overtime game-winner, to put the Caps up 3-1 in the series. The Capitals came home to D.C. and won, 3-1, in the fifth game to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Washington fell in four games to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but capped off another season of milestones and franchise marks.

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