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Ovechkin, Capitals hold off Senators

by Brian Compton
Alexander Ovechkin had a superb night, scoring four goals and adding an assist as the Washington Capitals defeated the Senators 8-6 in a wild affair in Ottawa. 
While the majority of the 20,296 fans at Scotiabank Place on Saturday night were disappointed with the outcome, there’s little doubt that they left the building feeling they weren’t entertained.
Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin had the best night of his NHL career, scoring four times and adding an assist as the Capitals once again found a way to win in Canada’s capital city, beating the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators 8-6.
It marked the second time this season that the Caps have won at Scotiabank Place; they beat the Senators 4-1 in Ottawa on Nov. 8.
This one wasn’t as easy — though it certainly looked like it was going to be just that after two periods, as Washington held a 5-2 lead.
But Ottawa’s Mike Fisher scored a hat trick in the final 20 minutes, and the last of his tallies got the Senators within 7-6 with 2:05 left in regulation. The Caps wouldn’t allow the Eastern Conference leaders to get the equalizer, however, and

Ovechkin sealed the victory when he hit the empty net with 27.6 seconds remaining for his 30th goal of the season ( 700K ) and first four-goal game since entering the NHL in 2005.
Ovechkin’s night to remember came just 48 hours after he received stitches for a cut to his leg during a 4-3 overtime loss at Pittsburgh. The cut forced him to miss most of the third period.
''Oh yeah, it was bothering me,'' Ovechkin said of the cut. ''It was a little bit of pain but it's OK, I feel pretty good tonight. My parents were here, they arrived from Moscow, and I was excited. It was a great time.''
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was impressed with Ovechkin’s performance after receiving such a nasty gash.
''I was looking for his skate to cut his other thigh, if that's what he's going to do every game,'' Boudreau said.
Washington had a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest. Alexander Semin got the Capitals on the board 61 seconds after the opening faceoff ( 700K ); Ovechkin put his team up by a pair with a power-play goal at 4:45 ( 700K ).
Daniel Alfredsson cut the deficit in half for the Senators  — who had their three-game winning streak snapped — when he scored his 23rd goal of the season at 12:13 of the first period ( 700K ), but Ovechkin restored Washington’s two-goal lead when he scored his second of the night 3:13 into the second ( 700K ).
''What impresses me most is that he actually played tonight,'' Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig said.

''If you guys would have seen the gash on his leg and I know a lot of guys were, not begging him but leaning towards, 'Hey, you think you can play tonight?' He had a lot of courage and he put on a heck of a show.''
Michael Nylander scored his first of two goals at 6:41 of the second ( 700K ) to give Washington a 4-1 lead, but Alfredsson once again found the back of the net — this time on a penalty shot ( 700K ) — less than four minutes later. The free breakaway was awarded while Ottawa was shorthanded.
Washington again took a three-goal lead when Nicklas Backstrom beat Martin Gerber ( 700K ) — who stopped 22 of 29 shots — with just three seconds to play in the second period. Backstrom also had two assists in the victory, one that helped the Caps finish the month of December at 7-3-3.
The third period was when the party truly started. Jason Spezza made it 5-3 at 4:08 of the third ( 700K ), and 2:33 later, Fisher got his first of the night ( 700K ) to get Ottawa back within a goal. Fisher made a nifty play around defenseman Mike Green before firing a wrist shot past Kolzig to make it 5-4 and give the Senators their second shorthanded goal of the game.

Nylander notched his second goal of the night at 9:13 ( 700K ) when he one-timed a feed from Semin past Gerber to give Washington a 6-4 lead. Just over three minutes later, Fisher again made it a one-goal game ( 700K ) when he redirected Wade Redden’s shot past Kolzig for a power-play tally.

''It's frustrating to lose that one when we were kind of close and it was not a great game for us,'' Fisher said. ''That would have been sweet to be able to come back, but overall we've got to be better. We can't put ourselves in that position.''
Ovechkin completed the hat trick when he beat Gerber at even strength just 1:10 after Fisher’s second tally ( 700K ), but Fisher got Ottawa within a goal for the third time in the final period at 17:55 ( 700K ). With Gerber pulled for an extra attacker, Fisher redirected Joe Corvo’s wrist shot past Kolzig.
''It was definitely a ratings booster for the TV stations, and I'm sure the fans got their money's worth, but I'm too old for these kind of games,'' said Kolzig, who finished with just 16 saves.

''It's going to force me to retire sooner than I want.''
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.
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