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Ovechkin scores twice, Capitals rally past Blackhawks

By Tim Hipps

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The reigning Hart Trophy winner picked up

right where he left off last season.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals to lead the Washington Capitals

to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks before a sellout

crowd of 18,277 at the Verizon Center on Saturday night.

Brooks Laich netted what proved to be the game-winner with 4:27

remaining in the third period for the Capitals, who improved to

18-14-2 in home openers.

With the contest even at 2-2, Alexander Semin skated toward the

net from the left side and fired a shot that was denied by a

sprawling Nikolai Khabibulin. Laich grabbed to the loose puck

in the crease and lifted a backhander that just crossed the goal

line before the goaltender was able to glove it.

Following a video review, the on-ice officials reversed their

initial call, awarding the goal to Laich.

"I couldn't tell if it crossed the line," Khabibulin said.

"Obviously, they replayed it and called it good. It is what it

is. They had a better view, I guess."

"It was kind of a broken play, the puck's squirting everywhere,"

Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell added. "What you see is what

you get."

Blackhawks coach Denis Savard had no idea which way the call

would go.

"There was no signal on the ice, and you're supposed to have a

signal," Savard said. "I guess in Toronto, they said it was

conclusive. I didn't see it, I couldn't tell. To me, I looked

on the screen, on the ice, and I couldn't even tell. I'm sure

they've got better angles."

Ovechkin added an insurance tally with 96 seconds remaining as

the Capitals posted their seventh consecutive regular-season

home victory dating back to last season.

"We know we can come back," said Ovechkin, who has scored a goal

in each of the four home openers of his career. "It doesn't

matter what the score is. It shows our heart and (that) we

never give up. There is a great atmosphere in the locker room.

Everyone believes in each other. This is the result."

Ovechkin's two-goal performance was his third in a home opener

and the 32nd multi-goal effort of his career. The Capitals are

24-8-0 in those games, including wins in 14 of the last 15.

"He's a great player, and you look him and how he plays - he

wins his battles," Savard said. "That's why he's a star player.

(If) you want to be a star player, you do it every night, not

just once in a while. That's why he's great."

Washington raised its record to 8-1-1 in home openers since

moving into the Verizon Center in 1998.

The Capitals hoisted their 2007-08 Southeast Division

championship banner to the rafters in a pregame ceremony

presided by coach Bruce Boudreau, captain Chris Clark and

alternate captains Sergei Fedorov and Ovechkin. But just 26

seconds after the opening faceoff, the Blackhawks grabbed the


Kris Versteeg carried down the right wing and blasted a shot

that found its way between the pads of goaltender Jose Theodore.

"I know there are 59 more minutes left, and if you don't allow

any more goals, then it doesn't matter how bad the goal is,"

Theodore said.

Playing in just his 19th NHL game, Jack Skille doubled the

advantage at 11:41, burying his own rebound from the right


Matt Bradley converted a pass from David Steckel less than two

minutes later to pull Washington within 2-1. Ovechkin had a

chance to even the contest with 51 seconds remaining in the

period, but Khabibulin denied his breakaway chance.

Ovechkin did knot the game at 5:07 of the middle session,

beating Khabibulin from the top of the right faceoff circle for

his first goal of the season.

"We are a resilient group, and everybody battled back and picked

up the slack," Boudreau said. "We knew Theo was pretty nervous

early. He came back and played great the last two periods."

Khabibulin finished with 30 saves, while Theodore made 19 saves.


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