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Capitals top Hurricanes 4-3 in OT

by John Kreiser
Tomas Fleischmann wants no part of being a healthy scratch again. Getting an overtime winner won't hurt his cause.

Two nights after sitting out for the first time this season, Fleischmann scored on a one-timer with 1:40 left in OT to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the Verizon Center on Wednesday.

The Caps are loaded with bodies since making a slew of deals at the trade deadline, so Fleischmann spent Monday night's game in the press box. It's not something he wants to do again.

"It's a little message," he said of his goal. "Don't sit me out again."

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau has perhaps the toughest lineup-juggling act in the League now that the NHL's top team is overloaded with talent. On Wednesday, Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr, neither with a healthy scratch since Jan. 2, took their turns watching the game.

Boudreau said he understands Fleischmann's message, but he's also trying to work in newcomers Joe Corvo, Scott Walker and Eric Belanger -- Belanger assisted on Fleischmann's game-winning blast from the right circle.

"I hear it. He's a good player," Boudreau said of Fleischmann. "And if the circumstances weren't what they are, he wouldn't be sitting out. But still it's March 10, and the playoffs don't start until about April 18. ... I don't like doing it, either, but as long as we can, we'll keep rotating guys in and out of the lineup to keep them fresh and sharp.

"The players don't like it, but they understand it. They know what the common goal is, so they're doing it for the common goal."

The Capitals improved to 14-0-1 in their last 15 home games. They had a franchise-record 13-game home winning streak snapped Wednesday night in a shootout loss to Dallas.

The Caps got two goals from Mike Green, who leads all NHL defensemen with 17, and one from Alexander Semin. Alex Ovechkin didn't score and remained tied with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals with 44, but earned his 49th and 50th assists and leads the League with 94 points.

Carolina, which trailed 2-0 on early goals by Semin and Green, got goals from Jussi Jokinen, Patrick Dwyer and Tuomo Ruutu. The 'Canes are now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

"They've got a pretty powerful team and they play well at home," said Carolina coach Paul Maurice, whose team handed the Caps their last home loss in regulation -- 6-3 on Dec. 28. "We did a good job battling back to get some goals."

It was the first meeting between the teams since trade deadline deals that sent Corvo and Walker to Washington and Brian Pothier and minor-leaguer Oskar Osala to Carolina. All but Osala were in the starting lineups.

"It's obviously an emotional moment for me," Pothier said. "I've been here for a long time. The family is still here, they're in school, we're invested in the community and we spend our summers here. We love it here. To come back, it was really weird. It was awkward playing against the guys. A couple of times I felt myself wanting to tap a guy on the shin pads who had the red jersey instead of the white."

Semin scored with his backhand on a breakaway 2:24 into the game, and Green made it 2-0 at 17:59 with a power-plat wrister from the right circle. Both took pratfalls after their goals.

But the Hurricanes got on the scoreboard 18 seconds after Green's goal when Dwyer scooped in a loose puck by the crease.

"That was a big goal for us," Maurice said, "and then we started to get it going."

Chad LaRose's steal and pass set up Ruutu's tying goal at 8:43 of the second period.
Green scored another power-play goal at 11:02, but Jokinen tied it again at 15:03, beating Jose Theodore for a power-play goal after a feed from Ruutu.

Fleischmann's game-winner was his 19th goal of the season, matching his career high.

"He made a nice pass," Fleischmann said. "I didn't hit it all, but I just hit it with the heel and it just went in."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report.

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