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Capitals rally in third to beat Senators 5-3

by Erin Nicks / NHL.com
KANATA, Ont. -- For one night at, at least, Alexander the Great was back.

Alex Ovechkin snapped a five-game drought by scoring a highlight-reel, go-ahead goal with 6:50 left in regulation as the Washington Capitals rallied with four third-period goals to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-3 on Wednesday night.

"I glad we got the win and of course it's nice it to get a goal, finally," said Ovechkin, a four-time 50-goal scorer who has just nine for the season. "Last couple of games I tried to score, but this time it worked. "

After Nicklas Backstrom tied the game 2-2 at 9:45 of the third, Ovi untied it with perhaps his most spectacular goal of the season. He raced from his own end into Ottawa's zone, turned the net and made a stop-on-a-dime move at the top of the right circle to shake defenseman Eric Karlsson. With some room to maneuver, he took two strides into the right circle and faked a slap shot before snapping a 25-footer past Craig Anderson.

It was vintage Ovechkin -- the kind of goal he used to score in bunches but hasn't done as often in the past year or two. Center Troy Brouwer hopes it's a sign of more to come.

"The way he was playing tonight, you could tell one was coming for him, and we're glad it did," Brouwer said. "He's our star player, and we need him to be like that. He set the tone early, had a couple of good shifts, you could see he had that desire to score tonight. He's still got to continue with it, one goal isn't going to change a season and he knows that – he wants to score every game. He wants to lead this team every night. Hopefully tonight will give him a little bit of confidence."

The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Senators, who led 2-1 until Nicklas Backstrom's power-play goal midway through the third period.

"As exciting as it is to come back and beat teams, it's equally frustrating to give up leads when we get them," center Jason Spezza said. "We worked hard to get the lead. We played a pretty complete game, not giving them much, and then they scored those goals pretty quick there. It's something we have to work on and learn from."

The Senators appeared stunned by Ovechkin's goal and gave up another 15 seconds later when an unchecked Brouwer slammed home John Carlson's feed from the left corner for a 4-2 lead.

"We've been trying to cut down on those bunches of goals against," Brouwer said. "We just try and settle in, and if we do get one scored on us, we're not panicking. I thought we were good tonight -- we weathered it when they came hard, and just release the pressure by getting pucks out. We continue to try and do the right thing and not be individuals out there. It paid off."

Milan Michalek made it a one-goal game with 3:52 remaining when he snapped a power-play shot past Tomas Vokoun off a faceoff win by Colin Greening for his 17th goal of the season -- tying him for the League lead -- and fifth in five games. But Backstrom saved the day for the Caps by blocking a wide-open rebound try by Daniel Alfredsson with less than two minutes left before Carlson hit the empty net with 45.8 seconds remaining.

Ottawa's Chris Neil was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct at 8:12 in the second after he dropped to the ice following an apparent spear by Ovechkin. The two were skating behind the play after Neil delivered a solid check in the corner, when Ovechkin appeared to jab the blade of his stick into Neil's midsection.

Neil went to the dressing room, and Nick Foligno served the minor penalty. There was no penalty called on Ovechkin, and Neil returned to the ice soon afterwards.

"I finished my check down in the corner and obviously he didn't like taking the hit," Neil said. "He was skating up the ice and it was almost like a pitchfork right in the gut, it was frustrating. We make mistakes out there, too. It's part of the game."

When asked about the incident, Ovechkin downplayed his role. "I'm not that kind of player," he said. "Everybody said it was spear, but I don't try to spear somebody."

Caps coach Dale Hunter also didn't make much of the hit. "I didn't see it because it was behind the play and I was watching the puck," he said. "Whatever – it was two minutes for our side."

The Caps beat the Senators for the second time in five days and the third time in as many meetings this season. It was Washington's second win in five games under Hunter -- both against Ottawa; the other was a 3-2 overtime win at the Verizon Center on Saturday.

Washington couldn't capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes when Anderson and defenseman Sergei Gonchar both were penalized at 11:10 of the first period. But the Caps took the lead 2:12 into the second after Dennis Wideman scooped up a turnover by Brian Lee. Anderson stopped Wideman's blast from near the far edge of the right circle, but Jeff Halpern banged in the rebound for his second of the season.

Ottawa tied the game at 12:43 when Erik Condra tipped the rebound of Karlsson's shot from the point past Vokoun. The assist was Karlsson's 22nd of the season, tying him with Vancouver's Henrik Sedin and Chicago's Patrick Kane for the League lead.

Foligno put the Senators ahead at 17:54 with a spectacular individual effort, skating into the Washington zone and dodging defenders with some highlight-worthy moves before beating Vokoun to give Ottawa the lead.

Backstrom's power-play backhander off a pass from Brooks Laich got Washington even midway through the third.

"They've got a pretty good squad over there, a lot of firepower," Anderson said.
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