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Capitals tie game late, beat Wild in shootout

by Adam Vingan

WASHINGTON -- For nearly 57 minutes, the Minnesota Wild frustrated the Washington Capitals.

Yet, with the Capitals trailing by one goal in the waning moments of regulation, they were finally able to break through on a fortuitous bounce.

Marcus Johansson's shot from inside the right circle deflected off Wild defenseman Nate Prosser in front and past goalie Josh Harding to tie the game at 2-2, and the Capitals went on to win the game 3-2 in a shootout.

The Wild's passive approach afforded the Capitals few scoring chances after Alex Ovechkin's power-play goal at 8:10 of the first period. When they did muster some sort of offense, Harding stymied them.

"If you look at the tying goal in the third period, that's kind of how you have to play against a team like that," coach Adam Oates said. "They're opportunistic and they don't give you anything. That's their [modus operandi].

"We fought through a lot of frustration because they were giving you nothing. It's hard to get shots to the net. You're going into territory that's really difficult. … We wore them down. Sometimes you have to get goals like that."

The game began with Washington and Minnesota, ranked first and second in the League in power-play efficiency, respectively, flexing their special-teams muscles.

Ovechkin opened the scoring with his 13th goal of the season and League-leading seventh on the power play. As has become customary, Ovechkin scored on a one-timer from the left circle, this time on a pass from Nicklas Backstrom along the goal line.

Not to be outdone, the Wild scored on their second power-play opportunity.

Mikko Koivu wrapped the puck along the end boards to Zach Parise, who threw a backhand centering pass through John Carlson's legs to Charlie Coyle. Braden Holtby (33 saves) got a piece of Coyle's shot with his glove, but not enough to prevent it from going into the net.

The Capitals began the second period with several minutes of sloppy play in their own end, and the Wild took advantage about six minutes in on Mikael Granlund's second goal of the season. A hard-charging Nino Niederreiter split Carlson and Karl Alzner behind the goal, beating both to a loose puck that he centered to Granlund. Holtby stopped Granlund's initial attempt, but when Jason Pominville corralled the rebound and found Granlund again, Holtby could not stop the second shot as it fluttered past him.

One of the League's strongest teams at even strength, the Wild dictated the pace throughout the game, preventing the Capitals from generating any sort of sustained pressure in the offensive zone.

Shortly after failing to convert on a late power play, however, Washington was finally able to produce at 5-on-5. Johansson, Brooks Laich and Tom Wilson worked below the goal line, with Laich working the puck over to Wilson in the corner. Wilson then left the puck for Johansson, who wrapped around into the right circle uncontested.

"We got a little passive at the end and then they got that goal," Parise said, adding that he believed Wilson picked Jonas Brodin on the game-tying play. "I thought that should have been a penalty there, but what can you do?"

In overtime, Washington killed off the remaining minute-plus of a Martin Erat penalty to keep the game tied before winning the game in a shootout that saw Backstrom score the only goal.

The Capitals finished their three-game homestand at 3-0-0. While they were pleased to win another game, they were far from satisfied with their overall performance.

"We're certainly going to have to play better than we did tonight," Laich said. "We kind of escaped with a win. … We expect more out of ourselves. I don't think we're going home really patting ourselves on the back and feeling fantastic. We got a win, but we know we were sort of lucky."

The Capitals have won four straight. The loss was the first in four games for Minnesota.

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