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Clutterbuck helps Wild top Capitals

By Anthony Maggio

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Rookie Cal Clutterbuck scored

the first two goals of his career and teammate James Sheppard's

first goal of the season kept both achievements in a positive

light as the Minnesota Wild survived a late flurry to escape

with a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Monday.

The Wild's third-round draft pick in 2006, Clutterbuck tallied

in the first and second periods to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead

that was stretched to 4-0 in the third period on goals from

defenseman Marek Zidlicky and Sheppard.

But a short-handed Washington squad stormed back in the final

six minutes, scoring three times in a three-minute, 33-second

stretch that made the final 1:44 tense for the Wild and the

18,568 fans who all stood until the final horn.

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom stopped 25 of 28 shots and the Wild

fought off a 6-on-5 for the final 63 seconds to snap their

two-game losing streak and claim the first game of their

season-long five-game homestand.

"When you get a triple insurance goal, it doesn't seem like it's

going to come back," Sheppard said. "But I'm happy it was

(there)."

Matt Bradley scored with 5:17 remaining to get the Capitals on

the board and Alex Ovechkin upped his points streak to nine

games with a goal with 3:53 left. Nicklas Backstrom then put

home a power-play goal at 18:16, which gave him a nine-game

points streak and cut the deficit to one.

Ultimately the comeback fell short, although Jose Theodore

stopped 29 of 33 shots for Washington. The veteran netminder

has had a tough time of late, allowing 13 goals in his last

three starts.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau refused to put the blame on

Theodore after the Wild netted a pair of power-play goals -

including Zidlicky's 5-on-3 tally following back-to-back

closing-hand-on-puck penalties from defenseman Tom Poti and

Ovechkin in a 37-second stretch.

"I thought he was great, he kept us in the game," Boudreau said.

"That's what you ask a goaltender to do. You're not going to

kill every 5-on-3 and 2-on-0, but he gave us a chance to win

coming into the third period, I thought."

Washington was already playing short-handed thanks to injuries

to Sergei Fedorov, defenseman Mike Green and Alexander Semin. To

make matters worse, Boyd Gordon and blue-liners John Erskine and

Jeff Schultz all suffered various maladies during the game that

ultimately forced center Brooks Laich to play shifts at

defenseman in the third period.

Boudreau didn't comment on the injuries specifically, but said

Erskine's status is up in the air, Schultz is "definitely out"

and Gordon "might be day-to-day with back spasms."

"Right now we have lots of injuries," Ovechkin said.

"Sometimes, it's hard."

Finding the back of the net had been difficult for Clutterbuck

despite coach Jacques Lemaire's insistence that the rookie has a

strong shot. After going scoreless in two games last season and

being a minus-4 in 16 games prior to Monday, the Ontario native

was rewarded for his hard work.

"I've got to give him credit," Lemaire said. "He's been

shooting pucks with Mario (Tremblay) at least for a half hour if

not 45 minutes before every practice. He worked so hard to get

where he is right now and he deserved those two goals."

Clutterbuck got Minnesota on the board at 13:54 of the first

period when he snapped a shot past Theodore stick-side from the

crease in front of a screen from defenseman Milan Jurcina.

Marc-Andre Burgeron picked up his first of two assists on the

play.

"It's a great feeling and just motivates you to work hard to

keep getting them," Clutterbuck said. "I saw (the first goal)

go in and I just started skating, just got a burst of energy.

Just like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders."

Clutterbuck's second tally came at 5:09 of the second period on

the power play. He was in front of the crease when defenseman

Brent Burns' shot bounced off the goaltender's blocker.

Clutterbuck stretched for it and tucked it past Theodore.

Zidlicky made it 3-0 at 3:07 of the third period and Sheppard

provided the game-winner 4:10 later with a goal on assists from

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Burns.

The Capitals lost their third consecutive contest and fell to

1-3-1 on their five-game road trip. Washington is 0-5-0 all-time

against the Wild in Minnesota.

"It was a very positive the last six minutes, what you can do

when you put your mind to it," Boudreau said. "It's a lesson

for (the Wild) too, that once you turn it off its tough to turn

it back on. They will be the first ones to tell you that they

were lucky they escaped with the win today."

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