Ovechkin propels Capitals past Hurricanes

WASHINGTON (Ticker) — With players like Alex Ovechkin,
Alexander Semin and Mike Green, Washington Capitals coach Bruce
Boudreau never got too worried when his team slumped.

Even a four-game home losing streak wasn’t cause for real

“We’re a good team,” Boudreau said. “Good teams don’t lose

Thanks to offense provided early by – who else? – Ovechkin,
Semin and Green, and some clutch goaltending late by Jose
Theodore, the Capitals finally rediscovered how to win in
Washington, beating the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-4, in a shootout
Saturday night.

Ovechkin moved within one goal of becoming the first Capitals
player with 50 in three seasons and netted the clincher in the
shootout. Semin scored his 29th goal and added three assists,
while Green had his 24th goal – the most among NHL defensemen –
and one assist.

The Capitals won 18 of their first 20 home games this season,
but entered Saturday just 7-8-1 since then. Magnifying their
woes in Washington: They have won five games in a row away from
the nation’s capital.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit at home. If you’re going to
have success in the playoffs, you have to have a great record at
home,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who added a goal and an assist.

“I mean, we have to start winning at home again.”

After a bit of what Boudreau called a stumble, the Capitals have
a three-game winning streak overall and a comfortable lead atop
the Southeast Division.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are locked in a tight race among six
teams for the final four postseason berths in the Eastern
Conference. And while they spoke afterward about being pleased
to leave with one standings point instead of zero – the
Hurricanes rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 – they also were
left to discuss how they failed to convert any of their many
chances in overtime, including during a power play.

“Nobody had any legs left,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said.
“We were dragging.”

Erik Cole, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney each scored for Carolina,
which is now winless in its past three road games.

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“We worked our tail off in the third period to get ourselves
back,” Carolina goalie Cam Ward said.

But in the shootout, Theodore stopped attempts by Carolina’s
Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen, while Semin tallied after Ward
blocked Viktor Kozlov’s try.

That left things up to Ovechkin. The last time Washington played
at home, it was Ovechkin’s miss in a shootout that left the
Capitals on the losing end against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He
delivered on this night.

“We have the skill,” Ovechkin said. “We just have to play

He and Semin each extended personal point streaks, while Green
ended his seven-game goal drought. Ovechkin has seven goals and
seven assists in his past 10 games, while Semin is up to seven
goals and nine assists in his personal-best nine-game run.

It was one minute into the second period when Semin put the
hosts up 3-1, collecting a rebound and spinning around to shoot.

“What can I say? It’s pretty hard to stop him,” Ovechkin said.

But Staal cut the deficit just before the period’s 6-minute
mark, right after Ward thwarted a 5-on-1 rush for Washington.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg got the puck to Ray Whitney
breaking the other way for what became a 2-on-1, and while
Theodore blocked the initial shot, Staal was there to knock in
the rebound.

“It was like pond hockey, and in the playoffs, you have to play
much more structured,” Boudreau said. “When we had the 5-on-1,
five guys is too much. Three guys would have been fine.”

After Backstrom’s goal gave Washington a 4-2 lead 12 minutes
into the second period, Carolina rallied.

Whitney scored with 7.3 seconds remaining in the period, off
assists from Cole and Staal. And then they tied it midway
through the third on Niclas Wallin’s goal.

Thanks to Theodore’s strong play the rest of the way, the
Hurricanes wouldn’t put the puck in the net again.

“Jose was great all night,” Boudreau said. “If he wasn’t at his
top of his game, they would have had six or seven, easy.”