WASHINGTON -- Ovi scores. Theo saves. Washington gets even with Philadelphia.
It's just another night in the Capitals-Flyers rivalry, which has turned into great hockey theater.
The Capitals, buoyed by a strong performance from their reunited top line and an even better one from goalie Jose Theodore, came from two goals down and beat the Flyers 4-2 victory on Tuesday night to pull even in the season series, win their fifth straight game and extend their lead in the Southeast Division to seven points.
This wasn't as wild as the first meeting, a 6-5 Philadelphia OT win three weeks earlier, but it's a good setup for the third act in this wildly entertaining season series, set for Dec. 5 back up I-95 in Philadelphia.
"Oh yeah, it was a great game, especially coming back from 2-0 (deficit)," said Alex Ovechkin, who had two goals to retake the NHL lead with 11. "Theo played great. He saved us."
Theodore, who took the loss in relief in Philadelphia, was brilliant this time in stopping 41 of 43 shots. He turned aside all 20 he faced in the third period to preserve the Capitals' one-goal lead before Ovechkin sealed it with an empty-netter.
"Theo kept us in the game," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, who added that it was the best he's ever seen Theodore play.
Theodore is battling rookie Semyon Varlamov for the starting job. He's been brilliant in back-to-back wins over the Islanders and Flyers.
"In training camp I told you it's the best I have felt since the lockout," Theodore said, "and sooner or later people are going to realize that I didn't just say that for fun."
Alexander Semin, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury (even the Caps' PR gurus didn't know what it was), assisted on Nicklas Backstrom's game-tying power-play goal late in the second period and scored the game-winner early in the third.
Semin, who was back skating on the right wing with Ovechkin and Backstrom, also assisted on Ovechkin's empty-net goal to give him his second three-point game of the season and fifth multi-point game. Backstrom had a goal and assisted on the other three.
"Who knows where it will be Thursday," Boudreau said of his top line, "but for one game they were very good."
Semin's game-winner came 5:24 into the third when he took a pass off the left wing boards from Mike Green, skated to the top of the left circle and fired a heavy shot that appeared to tick off Kimmo Timonen and zoom straight into the top left corner past Ray Emery.
Timonen was a minus-3 and is now minus-10 for the season.
"I don't know what I should do," Timonen said. "Every time bad breaks happen, I'm on the ice. The third (goal), there's nothing I could do better -- maybe play higher -- but you know, it's hard. It hit my knee and went in. It's been the theme of the year for me."
Darroll Powe had a chance to tie the game with a penalty shot 1:23 later, but Theodore closed the five-hole with his stick to deny Powe.
The Flyers also had a power play opportunity after the failed penalty shot, but came away empty-handed. They scored on two of their first three power plays, but were blanked on two advantages in the third period.
On the other hand, the Caps scored their first power-play goal in 15 chances to tie the game at 2-2 late in the second. It came after they failed to score on a 5-on-3 for 1:41 earlier in the second and a minute later gave up a power-play goal to Braydon Coburn.
"I think we were so angry at ourselves (after the 5-on-3)," said Backstrom, who scored the tying goal from the top of the left circle with 1:48 to play in the second. "Usually we're used to scoring on a 5-on-3, but that happens. Finally we scored on the power play and that's for sure something good."
The Capitals erased a 2-0 deficit for the second straight game.
Scott Hartnell staked the Flyers a 1-0 lead 3:06 into the period with a power-play goal and Coburn scored at 14:29, but Ovechkin responded by ripping a shot from the high slot over Emery's left shoulder at 16:08 to make it 2-1.
Ovechkin got the pass from Backstrom, who somehow managed to juggle the puck on his stick before settling it on the ice and slotting the pass to the streaking Russian.
With Mika Pyorala in the box for holding just over two minutes later, Semin fed Backstrom from behind the goal line, and the slick Swedish center's one-timer from the slot found its way through Emery's five-hole.
After Semin put the Caps ahead, the Flyers peppered Theodore but couldn't beat him.
"We've got to find ways to…lock it down and put more pucks in the net. Bottom line," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "For whatever reason, offensively, we're having trouble getting pucks in the net."
Dan Rosen, NHL.com
|PPG - Scott Hartnell (2) ASST: Mike Richards (5), Claude Giroux (3)|
1 - 0 PHI
|PPG - Braydon Coburn (1) ASST: Kimmo Timonen (5), James van Riemsdyk (7)|
2 - 0 PHI
|Alex Ovechkin (10) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (10), Jeff Schultz (4)|
2 - 1 PHI
|PPG - Nicklas Backstrom (3) ASST: Alexander Semin (5), Keith Aucoin (3)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Alexander Semin (7) ASST: Mike Green (7), Nicklas Backstrom (11)|
3 - 2 WSH
|EN - Alex Ovechkin (11) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (12), Alexander Semin (6)|
4 - 2 WSH
|Ole-Kristian Tollefsen Cross checking against Matt Bradley|
|Brendan Morrison Hooking against Chris Pronger|
|Nicklas Backstrom Tripping against Mike Richards|
|Daniel Carcillo Too many men/ice - bench|
|Darroll Powe Interference on goalkeeper against Jose Theodore|
|Tyler Sloan Hooking against Ole-Kristian Tollefsen|
|Mika Pyorala Holding against Mike Knuble|
|Jeff Schultz Interference against Daniel Briere|
|Mike Knuble Hooking against Scott Hartnell|