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Caps end Devils' win streak

by Brian Compton
Eight was enough for the New Jersey Devils.

Brent Sutter's club saw its win streak snapped at eight on Tuesday night, as Michael Nylander scored twice to lead the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 victory at the Prudential Center. The Devils -- who fell three points behind Washington for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference -- hadn't lost since Jan. 11, when they dropped a 4-3 decision at Anaheim.

New Jersey fell behind 3-0 before attempting to play catch-up.

''I'm still trying to figure out why we played like this against an opponent who is a game up on us in the standings,'' said Sutter, whose team still leads the Atlantic Division by four points over the second-place New York Rangers.

Meanwhile, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau was trying to figure out a way to convince Nylander to shoot more. The veteran center did just that against the Devils and ended up scoring two goals in a game for the first time in more than 13 months.

''He doesn't like to shoot,'' Boudreau said. ''We have a few of those guys, and then we have one guy who shoots every chance he gets. He makes up for those guys.''

Boudreau was referring to superstar Alex Ovechkin, who only had one shot on goal but ended up with two assists. Both came on power-play goals in the first period. Mike Green beat Scott Clemmensen at 5:58 for his fourth goal in as many games -- and less than three minutes later, Brooks Laich made it 2-0 with his 12th goal of the season.

''I think we were opportunistic,'' Boudreau said of the power play. ''I don't think we were great. We didn't have the puck movement we normally have, but when we had a chance, we put it in.''

Nylander scored his first goal of the night at 2:16 of the second period. With the teams at even strength, Clemmensen was unable to control a shot from Eric Fehr. Boyd Gordon gained possession and fed Nylander, who fired it into an open net for his sixth goal of the season and a 3-0 lead.

''He is potentially one of our top forwards,'' Green said. ''He has been finding his game in the D-zone and finally finding offensively. He has been a big part of our wins lately and hopefully, he'll continue it.''

Brian Rolston got New Jersey on the comeback trail when he tallied his ninth goal of the season at 8:50 of the second. With both Green and Dave Steckel in the penalty box, Rolston took a pass from Patrik Elias and beat Jose Theodore to make it 3-1.

Jamie Langenbrunner cut the deficit in half with a shorthanded goal just 41 seconds into the third. The Devils' captain -- who had three straight two-goal games -- brought the crowd to its feet when he got one past Theodore on a breakaway. It was his 15th tally of the season.

But Theodore denied Travis Zajac on the same Washington power play and later stopped David Clarkson before Nylander put the game away with a shot between Clemmensen's pads. Fehr put the game away with an empty-net goal at 18:50.

''I should have done that for many years,'' Nylander said of his reluctance to shoot. ''It's good when you are shooting to see the puck go in. I know I think we played pretty good as a team.''

Clemmensen couldn't say the same for his team. He fell to 22-10-1 since replacing the injured Martin Brodeur, who is only a few weeks away from returning to action. The Capitals are 11-1-2 against the Atlantic Division this season.

''Tonight we weren't as sharp as we usually are and when you play a team like Washington, they are very dangerous, especially on the power play, it is going to catch up to you,'' Clemmensen said. ''Tonight it did.''

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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