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Semin leads Ovechkin-less Capitals to win over Predators

By Tim Hipps

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- If it's not one NHL Russian sensation

named Alexander in Washington, it must be another.

Playing for the first time in 204 games without reigning Hart

Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals received a

goal and an assist from Alexander Semin in a 4-3 shootout

victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Michael Nylander scored the winning goal in the fourth round of

the shootout and Jose Theodore turned aside 23 shots.

The league's leading scorer, Semin also scored in the bonus

format as he completed the franchise's best October since 2004.

With 16 points, Semin (eight goals, eight assists) surpassed

last season's 15-point effort by Ovechkin, who saw his 203

consecutive-games streak come to an end as he returned to his

native Russia on Monday to visit his ailing grandfather.

Semin, speaking through an interpreter, downplayed the

significance of his hot start.

"It is my job to do these things - to help the team win, to

score, to give passes," he said. "I felt like I had to amend a

mistake earlier when I did not score, but there was a good pass

to me and all I had to do was shoot the puck in the net."

Ovechkin's future status will be determined on a day-to-day

basis. The Capitals' next game is Saturday in Buffalo.

"(Ovechkin) is obviously away, dealing with some stuff and we

wish him the best," Capitals center Brooks Laich said. "But at

the same time, we can look at it two ways. We can look at it

like we're missing the star of our team or we can look at it as

a challenge. We've always talked here that we believe we're a

good hockey team. It's not Alex Ovechkin is a great hockey

player and the Washington Capitals. It's a good hockey team."

Semin said he received a text message from Ovechkin shortly

before the game started.

"He sent a text message to me and asked that I say 'hi' to all

the guys and that he is with us," Semin said. "I was very

surprised when I saw it. ... He didn't set any date, so I don't

know. Whenever he comes back, he comes back."

After each team had its first attempt stopped in the shootout,

Semin beat goaltender Dan Ellis to put the Capitals ahead before

defenseman Ville Koistinen responded in the third round.

Nylander then answered in the fourth round before Theodore

denied Martin Erat to seal the win.

Semin recorded his eighth goal of the season 1:58 into the third

period to give Washington a 3-2 lead.

"He's been really, really good all year, and it's great to see,"

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's great to see his

emotion when other linemates and teammates are scoring. I

really believe he is coming of age now. He is a really quiet

guy, but on the ice, he's coming out of his shell and leading

this team right now."

But Nashville dominated the final session, outshooting the

Capitals, 15-3, as Arnott netted his second tally of the evening

with 6:36 remaining in the third period.

Viktor Kozlov gave the Capitals the lead midway through the

first period, but the advantage was short-lived as Koistinen

leveled the contest just 1:46 later.

Washington, which owned a 19-4 advantage in shots in the opening

period, claimed a 2-1 advantage with 4:22 left in the session on

Dave Steckel's shorthanded tally.

"Semin made a great play," Steckel said. "He drew everyone

together and looked for the opportunity and made a great pass.

I didn't even have to move my stick. When you play with him all

night, it's easy to get passes like that. Right now, he's

carrying this team."

J.P. Dumont had three assists for Nashville.



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