WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 14: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after scoring in the first period against the Atlanta Thrashers at the Verizon Center on November 14, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
And in the 10th game, there was a goal.
Alex Ovechkin snapped the longest goal drought of his career late in the second period Saturday night at Verizon Center, but even the Great 8's scoring magic couldn't break the spell cast by Ondrej Pavelec on this night.
The Atlanta goalie stopped 45 shots en route to a 3-1 win in front of the 75th consecutive sellout at the Phone Booth. It was his second straight win against the Caps, the last being a shutout on Nov. 19.
Yes, it looks like Pavelec has the Caps' number.
"It was a very busy night," Pavelec said. "They moved the puck well, especially on the power play. they spent all the time in our zone. ... We blocked, I think, 20 shots, and that's a pretty good job by the guys. Big win for us."
Ovechkin's first tally since the Caps and Thrashers played on Nov. 14 ended his nine-game drought. And it came with just 48 seconds left in the second period to make it 2-1.
Washington's top line of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin put serious pressure on Pavelec during the shift, and Ovechkin finally found twine when he cashed in a cross-ice pass from Semin by one-timing it past Pavelec from the left circle.
Ovechkin and Co. hoped the goal would light a spark under the Caps in the third, but Pavelec snuffed it out. He made numerous outstanding saves in the third, including several on Semin and several more on Mike Green by coming out of his crease, challenging and cutting down the angles.
"We should have bounced back right away in the third period, but we didn't do it," Backstrom said.
While Pavelec looked good, Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau thought his team didn't do much to tarnish that image. He said his talented scorers "were not getting their nose dirty enough to score," meaning they weren't crashing the net to set up screens or sniff out rebounds.
Ovechkin saw the same thing happening.
"I think after the first shot (on net), we didn't find rebounds," he said. "We had lots of chances to find it but we didn't."
Boudreau said that was especially evident on the power play. The Caps were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
"They were all looking for one-timers," Boudreau said. "There was no second-shot capability. They're all standing around hoping for something to happen."
Meanwhile, the Thrashers cashed in with their power-play chance in the third.
Just eight seconds after Dave Steckel received two for kneeing and five for fighting, the Thrash cashed in on the power play. Adnrew Ladd one-timed a cross-crease pass from Rich Peverley to put Atlanta back up by two.
The Capitals couldn't muster a comeback after that.
"I think it took a little life out of us," Caps defenseman John Carlson said.
"It was a deflating goal," he said. "I think we lost our focus."
After a scoreless first period, the Thrashers went up 2-0 midway throught the second period with two goals in less than two minutes.
Peverley started the run by tipping a Dustin Byfuglien point shot past Semyon Varlamov.
The play started with the Thrashers winning a draw in the Caps end. Backstrom was kicked out of the faceoff circle by the linesman, so Ovechkin took the draw -- and lost. The puck eventually made it back to Byfuglien at the point. Pevereley, who found himself by his lonesome to the left of Varly, tipped the puck past the helpless netminder.
Alexander Burmistrov made it 2-0 with a pretty goal down low. He took a quick pass from Nik Antropov along the goal line, walked toward the net and roofed a nifty wrister over Varly, who was down on one knee.
The Caps play their fourth game in six days Monday night at the Verizon Center against Toronto.