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Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau apologizes to Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet for Alex Ovechkin's goal celebration

MONTREAL — Bruce Boudreau proved a little diplomacy can go a long way.

The Capitals coach reached out to Lightning coach Rick Tocchet the day after Alex Ovechkin's perceived excessive celebration of his 50th goal of the season at the St. Pete Times Forum sparked hard feelings.

"I respect that he came by my office, face-to-face," Tocchet said Thursday. "It was a nice gesture."

On March 19, Ovechkin celebrated by dropping his stick and waving his hands over it as if to say it was too hot to handle.

Before the Caps practiced the next day at the Times Forum, Boudreau found Tocchet. "I just thought it was a professional courtesy," Boudreau told reporters in Washington. "What was said is between us. That's it."

"He apologized. He didn't condone it," Tocchet said. "I told him what I felt, that doing it by our goalie for five seconds by the crease (wasn't appropriate), and he agreed. I said, 'Good luck this year,' and that was it."

Well, not quite. The teams meet tonight at the Verizon Center. TSN, Canada's equivalent of ESPN, even sent a crew to Washington to ask about the possibility of Lightning retribution.

"Nobody cares about it anymore, but you guys want to bring it up because you want to see a riot, then you want to talk about retribution," Boudreau said. "It's the dumbest thing in the world.

"Certainly to God, hockey has got more stuff going on. … Let's get over it. You guys get over it. The teams have gotten over."

Boudreau might be right on that last point.

"We're kind of blowing it out of proportion," Tocchet said. "I'm sure you'd like to see our players react, but reacting is playing in Washington and playing abrasive and not playing stupid."

LW Ryan Malone said the best retribution is to "steal the two points."

"I don't think we have his name circled on the board or anything like that," he said of Ovechkin. "If the hit is there, you want to finish your checks on him, but you have to keep your head up with him as well. Hopefully, we can contain him."

As for Ovechkin, who has a league-best 51 goals, he said: "If somebody wants to hit me, go with pleasure. I'm ready. I don't think it's going to be some war or any fights. … It's time for everybody to forget about it."

RUMOR CENTRAL: Vinny Lecavalier can't come to Montreal without facing another rumor he will be traded to the Canadiens. "For me, they're just rumors," he said. "Every one or two weeks someone comes out with it. I have no control over what people say."

Asked if it might be time for a change after consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, he said: "I've been with the Lightning since 1998. The first four or five years it could have been discouraging. … But two years later we won the Cup. You never know in hockey."

ODDS AND ENDS: RW Marty St. Louis needed stitches below his right eye and under his brow after being hit by a puck. … RW Evgeny Artyukhin hurt a leg when he ran into the boards after missing a third-period check. The team said he should be okay. … F Paul Szczechura (leg) was scratched.

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau apologizes to Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet for Alex Ovechkin's goal celebration 03/26/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 6:36pm]

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