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Ovechkin's OT goal completes Caps' rally

Wednesday, 03.02.2011 / 2:17 AM / Roundup

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Ovechkin's OT goal completes Caps' rally
Washington was blanked for more than 59 minutes, but Brooks Laich tied the game before Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel winner in OT gave the Caps a 2-1 victory against the Islanders.
After 59 minutes, the Washington Capitals had outshot the New York Islanders and had nothing to show for it.

Just like that, Brooks Laich tied it in the final minute -- then Alex Ovechkin scored on a breakaway 1:55 into overtime and the Capitals beat the Islanders 2-1 at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night.

"They missed the puck in our zone, and I had full speed so it was kind of a pretty goal," Ovechkin said. "I'll take it."

Ovechkin picked up a loose puck near the boards and made a mad dash down the right side before beating goalie Nathan Lawson with a backhander for a highlight goal after a mostly quiet game.

"I thought he looked lethargic a little bit," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Some superstars don't play good, but that's why they're superstars. ... because they rise to the moment at the right moment."

Lawson made 40 saves and kept the Caps at bay until Laich scored with 47.2 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Laich redirected a pass from recently acquired Jason Arnott into the net.

"That was huge," said Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made 28 saves. "After (Laich) scored, I knew we were going to win this game no matter what."

Washington improved to 11-0-3 in its last 14 games against the Islanders, who have lost four straight overall.

Matt Moulson's second-period goal nearly held up for New York. He took a quick crossing pass from PA Parenteau and fired a shot past Neuvirth inside the right post for a 1-0 lead with 9:52 left in the second period. It was his team-best 28th goal.

Despite a 42-29 edge in shots, the Capitals just couldn't figure out many ways to beat Lawson, who made a number of tough stops. Washington kept the pressure on, but Lawson kept coming through.

The Capitals were hoping to improve their offense with trading deadline deals. They claimed right wing Marco Sturm off waivers and obtained center Arnott plus defenseman Dennis Wideman in trades.

Boudreau put Sturm on the top line with left wing Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom. The coach also placed Arnott on the second line between left wing Laich and right wing Alexander Semin. Wideman was paired with veteran Scott Hannan on defense.

Sturm and Arnott both nearly scored in the opening minutes. Lawson stopped Sturm on a breakaway -- started by a long cross-ice pass from Ovechkin -- just over two minutes into the game.

Arnott then nearly redirected a shot past Lawson a little over a minute later, but the goalie caught it. Wideman also helped out when the Capitals needed to kill off penalties, and all three joined in on the power play.

Arnott came close early in the third period when Lawson stopped a wrist shot, and the puck trickled away but just missed the net.

The Caps tried to rally several times in the third period but kept coming up short. Backstrom drew a pair of minor penalties in the final seven minutes that forced the Capitals to go short-handed for four minutes.

But they finally got going in the final minute. After Boudreau had pulled Neuvirth for an extra attacker, Arnott got a loose puck behind the New York net and made a quick feed in front to Laich, who redirected it in.

That forced overtime and set up Ovechkin's ninth game-winning goal this season. He also assisted on Laich's goal -- the 300th assist of his career.

"It's extremely disappointing to lose it in the last 47 seconds," Lawson said. "We battled so hard for 59 minutes. To come away with just one point is unacceptable."

Bruins 1, Senators 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for his second shutout, Nathan Horton scored early in the third, and Boston won its season-high sixth straight, all on the road, with a victory at Ottawa.

Boston's 6-0 trip matched the team's longest perfect trip since 1971-72, when the eventual Cup champions won six straight from Feb. 17-26.

"I don't think we have any of those kinds of names or players," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "Those are such legends that it's hard to really be compared to those guys. We're really trying to focus on playing well and playing our game and playing for each other, and win as many games as possible and have good feelings after the games, no regrets."

Rask, who won at Scotiabank Place for the second time on the trip, stopped 10 shots in the first period, 14 in the second and nine in the third. It was his eighth career shutout, his first since a 41-save effort in a 4-0 win over Florida on Nov. 18.

"He was unbelievable for us. We weren't too good in front of him but he was there for us and we pulled it out," said Horton, who scored his 18th goal 1:43 into the third when he put a loose puck into a gaping net off a goalmouth scramble.

The winning streak is the Bruins' longest in nearly two years. Boston, which leads the Northeast Division with 81 points, had a six-game streak from March 22-April 4, 2009.

Rask went 4-0 on the trip, including a win at Edmonton on Sunday to cap a three-game swing through Western Canada.

"Getting those two starts to start off the road trip was really a big thing for me and helped me gain confidence," Rask said.

All-Star Tim Thomas won in Calgary and Vancouver between Rask's four road starts.

"It's always nice when you have two great goalies back there," Horton said. "It doesn't matter who's in net, you know they're going to be there for us."

Craig Anderson made 20 saves in his fifth straight start for Ottawa. Anderson is 3-2 with the Senators since he was acquired from Colorado on Feb. 18 in a trade that sent goalie Brian Elliott to the Avalanche.

"He played outstanding," Senators forward Nick Foligno said. "He was very good for us and we're really happy he's behind us. He's bailed us out a few times and we've just got play a little bit better and try to bury our chances when we get them."

Ottawa had won two in a row at home following a 10-game losing streak at Scotiabank Place. The Senators, who fell to 11-17-5 at home, are last in the Eastern Conference with 51 points.

"They're a great team and they proved that tonight," Foligno said. "They were able to hold off our attack. We've got to be proud of the way we played, though. We did some really good things out there and played with one of the best teams in the East. It's a positive sign going forward."

Ottawa right wing Bobby Butler hit the top corner of the right post with less than a minute remaining in the second.

There was a lengthy video review moments later after Anderson made a pad save on Chara's shot from the right side. The replay confirmed that the puck had not crossed the goal line.

Flames 6, Blues 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

Miikka Kiprusoff shut out St. Louis for the second time in three days and Jarome Iginla had a pair of goals and an assist in Calgary's victory at the Scottrade Center.

Iginla's line totaled nine points, with Alex Tanguay getting a goal and two assists and Brendan Morrison adding three assists. The Flames are 3-0 against the Blues this season, outscoring them 11-1, and have won eight of their last 10 in St. Louis.

"It should be tough for guys to sleep tonight," Blues forward David Backes said.

Making his 17th consecutive start, Kiprusoff stood out against a team that hadn't been blanked in an NHL-high 110 games before losing 1-0 Sunday night in Calgary. Kiprusoff stopped 25 shots for his sixth shutout of this season and 40th of his career, and hasn't allowed the Blues to score in 132 minutes and 11 seconds.

"He was great both games," Iginla said. "In the second period they had some good chances and it was anybody's game at that point."

The Blues threatened several times, but were often stymied by shots that either couldn't make it to the net or sailed wide. St. Louis had 27 shots in the loss at Calgary.

Calgary led 1-0 after two periods on Tanguay's 17th of the season off Iginla's strip of defenseman Barret Jackman behind the St. Louis net in the first period. The Flames busted loose in the third against 23-year-old goalie Ben Bishop, making his third straight start in place of the injured Jaroslav Halak.

"That's how you can break the teams, just don't make mistakes and keep pushing," Kiprusoff said. "I think that's what happened."

Iginla scored his 26th on a 2-on-1 break with Morrison early in the period and got his 27th midway through the period. David Moss and Robyn Regehr added power-play goals against Bishop, who had stopped 58 of 59 shots his previous two starts and was in goal in Sunday's 1-0 loss.

Niklas Hagman made it a five-goal third period with 4.8 seconds to go.

"It's an immature way of playing the third period," Blues forward Alexander Steen said. "I thought for sure even when they got that second one, we were still right there and it just deflates us."

The Flames totaled 24 blocked shots, 16 more than the Blues, and one fewer than Kiprusoff's save total.

"Some games they have more saves than I do," Kiprusoff said. "It's huge when the forwards block the shots."

Canucks 2, Blue Jackets 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Raffi Torres scored in the eighth round of the shootout, and Roberto Luongo stopped six shooters to give Canucks a victory against Columbus at Rogers Arena.

Mason Raymond scored for Vancouver in regulation, and Luongo made 30 saves in the first 65 minutes.

Despite alternating wins and losses for the past 11 games, Vancouver extended its lead atop the NHL to three points over Philadelphia and five on Detroit in the Western Conference.

"It was real exciting from a fan's standpoint … both goaltenders were real sharp," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Twice we had to score to keep it going. It made that part of the game exciting. You've got to give them credit. They played real well. At the end of the day, we found a way to win and got us two big points."

Scottie Upshall scored in his Blue Jackets debut after being acquired in a trade Monday, then watched nervously as his new teammates killed off the four-minute high-sticking penalty he took with less than five minutes left in regulation.

Columbus captain Rick Nash scored to open the shootout, but Raymond tied it in the third round. Antoine Vermette and Alex Burrows traded goals in the fifth round, and Steve Mason made a spectacular left pad save in the sixth before Torres snapped a low shot past Mason's glove to end the game.

Columbus held the NHL's top power play to just two shots, and Andrew Murray hit the post on a shorthanded 2-on-1.

"Those guys are desperate on the other side, fighting for every point they can get," Luongo said of the Blue Jackets. "We've just got to make sure we have that same desperation level right now.
Things are good for us -- we're on the top of the standings -- but teams are creeping up slowly. We've got to make sure we come to play hard every night."

Mason made 14 of his 25 saves after the midway point of the third period to help the 12th-place Blue Jackets get at least a point for the 10th time in the last 12 games. Columbus fell five points behind a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"It's a tough game to lose -- especially in this fashion," Mason said. "But at the same time, there's a lot of positive things that we can take away."

Raymond ended an 11-game goal drought with 5:33 left in the first period after some nice work Ryan Kesler, who won a battle with Jan Hejda along the boards and shoveled across to send him in alone in tight.

Raymond, who only had two goals in his previous 26 games and was dropped from the second to the fourth line midway through the last game, made a strong deke to his backhand before lifting the puck over Mason's extended left pad.

"We didn't have our best game, but we battled and 'Lou' played exceptional," Raymond said. "Any time you score a goal, it feels real good. That's just one and I want to keep building on that. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come." 

Both teams had players making their debuts after being acquired in a trade before the NHL deadline Monday -- Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto for Columbus, and fourth-line center Maxim Lapierre for the Canucks -- and two of them combined on the Blue Jackets' goal 7:11 into the second.

Lapierre lost a battle with Derek Dorsett along the boards and he passed to Samuel Pahlsson, who relayed to Upshall in the right circle for a quick snap shot that went over the left shoulder of Luongo, off the crossbar and in.

"I thought they were very, very good," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said of his new players. "I thought they both handled themselves very well."

Sharks 2, Avalanche 1 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

Antti Niemi was perfect in the shootout just hours after getting a contract extension, and Ryane Clowe scored in the first round of the tiebreaker at HP Pavilion to give surging San Jose its seventh consecutive victory.

Joe Thornton tied it with 2:58 remaining in regulation for the Sharks, who have won seven straight and 16 of 19. Niemi made 18 saves to cap a day that began with him signing a $15.2 million, four-year extension.

It was the second consecutive game in which Clowe scored the deciding goal in a shootout and the second straight time he did it with his forehand instead of his usual shootout move to the backhand.

"It was tight all the way through," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "They looked like they had some relief maybe that the trade deadline had passed and they played with a lot of energy and passion. For as much as I'd like to pick on our guys for not having enough polish, we still found a way. But I'd still like to give them some credit for a hell of an effort."

Niemi stopped Milan Hejduk after Clowe's goal and then Matt Duchene hit the post and David Jones shot wide for the Avalanche, who have lost 14 of 15.

"I think it's going to be tight all the way around … there's going to be more of these kind of games," Niemi said. "These are the huge points, when we're able to come back."

Erik Johnson scored a power-play goal and Brian Elliott made 34 saves in his third game for Colorado since being acquired in a trade from Ottawa late last month for Craig Anderson.

Colorado has scored two goals or fewer in 11 of its last 15 games and managed few good scoring chances against Niemi -- the Avs had just 19 shots.

"We got a good effort from a lot of different guys," Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "I thought our goalie played very well for us tonight. We didn't have much going there in the shootout."

The Avalanche broke up a scoreless game with a power-play goal early in the third. With Niclas Wallin in the penalty box for holding, Johnson stopped a clearing attempt by Jason Demers at the blue line. Johnson beat Niemi with a high wrist shot for his seventh goal just 78 seconds into the period.

The Sharks were unable to tie it on a power play of their own minutes later -- their fourth failed chance with the man advantage -- and then Joe Pavelski was robbed by the crossbar on a hard shot from the slot midway through the third that got the fans excited but was immediately waved off by the referee.

San Jose finally got the equalizer when Thornton made a nifty deflection at the side of the net of a point shot by Demers late in regulation.

"They're playing for contracts in the summer, so we knew they were going to play hard," Thornton said of the Avs. "We feel we can skate with any team and be physical with any team. We feel like at any point, we can break through and grab a game. We keep plugging away."

Elliott made a good glove save against Justin Braun midway through overtime just moments before San Jose's Douglas Murray broke up a good chance for Ryan Wilson when he made a dive to sweep away the puck.

The game got off to a sluggish start, with each team having only one shot on goal in the first 10-plus minutes of the opening period. Both teams killed off a penalty in the second half of the period, with Elliott making the toughest saves on a point shot by Pavelski followed by the rebound by Demers.

"I thought he was square, controlling his rebounds," Sacco said of Elliott. "He really was solid. He gave us a chance to win tonight, and that's all you can ask of your goalie."

There were only a few more chances in the second period but still no goals. Devin Setoguchi was robbed alone in close by Elliott early in the period. Niemi made a tough sliding stop against Kevin Porter, who was all alone at the side of the goal midway through the second.

Oilers 2, Predators 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Linus Omark and Jordan Eberle scored in a shootout to give Edmonton a win against Nashville at Rexall Place.

For NHL.com's full recap, click here.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff