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Ovi, Caps beat Rangers 6-5 for 12th consecutive win

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- It was wild and somewhat wacky, but it was yet another Washington win in a way only the Capitals can do it.

If you score five, they'll just score six. If you're leading by two goals, they'll go out and score three in a row.

That's the way it's going for the NHL's hottest team, the one that also might possess the League's most electrifying offense since the work stoppage.

The New York Rangers found that out the hard way Thursday as the Capitals indeed did come back from a two-goal deficit to leave MadisonSquareGarden with a 6-5 victory, extending their franchise record winning streak to 12 games.

Olli Jokinen had two points in his Rangers' home debut and Vinny Prospal tied a career high with four points, but Nicklas Backstrom led the Capitals with a goal and four assists while Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added an assist, giving him the three points he needed to get to 500 for his career.

Washington will go for lucky No. 13 Friday night back at Verizon Center against Atlanta, which will be playing its first game in the post Ilya Kovalchuk era.

"I was a young player with the Red Wings when I first broke in and there was a ton of confidence there, but it's not the same," said Capitals right wing Mike Knuble, who contributed to Thursday's win with his 10th goal of the winning streak. "The way we pull out games, we just have the personnel to just keep driving and going and guys don't stop. They don't quit. When we're down, we have another gear we can go to."

The Capitals found that gear t late in the second period, shortly after forward Brandon Dubinsky struck for New York's fourth power-play goal of the night with 1:12 remaining to give the Rangers a 5-3 lead.

New York was 0-for-25 on the power play in its previous seven games, but even four weren't enough to beat the streaking Capitals. Ovechkin, Backstrom and Tom Poti all scored within a span of 6:42 bridging the second and third periods.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist surrendered six goals on 32 shots for his sixth straight loss.

"Lundqvist just didn't look as sharp tonight as he has been in the pass against us," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said, "so I thought we'd get some goals."

Ovechkin started the comeback with 8.5 seconds left before the second intermission by scoring one of those goals that could be marveled at for years to come.

He gathered the puck at the red line near the penalty boxes and skated into the left circle, where he made a tremendous move to get around a bewildered Michal Rozsival. His right hand came off his stick, but Ovechkin still had his left on it and he used it across his body to poke at the puck.

The puck appeared to deflect off Lundqvist's stick before going up and over the Swedish goalie and into the net.

"It's always good when you make a goal at the end of the second period especially when you are losing by two goals," Ovechkin said. "I think it was a pretty good goal -- and an important goal, too."

Poti scored on the power play just 59 seconds into the third period after Michael Del Zotto was called for high sticking. He shot the puck from just inside the blue line, and Lundqvist may never have gotten an eye on it.

Lundqvist was screened almost all night long.

"Knuble was in front and he had a really good screen on," Poti said. "They had one of their guys in front, too, so I figured I'd throw it in front and see what happens. It worked out for us."

Backstrom got the winner at 5:34 with Jokinen (goal, assist and three penalties) serving a hooking penalty. Backstrom found a loose puck in the left circle and just slapped a hard shot past a screened Lundqvist.

Poti's drive to the net forced Jokinen to wrap his stick around him, setting up the power play and the eventual game-winner.

"Four power-play goals and you still lose a hockey game," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "That is the way it has been going here."

Lundqvist gave the Rangers a chance late in the game by stoning Matt Bradley on a breakaway with 4:17 left, but Dan Girardi was called for interference away from the puck. With 13 seconds left on his penalty, Dubinsky was whistled for boarding.

"Our 5-on-5, our power play -- we got some goals there," Rangers forward Ryan Callahan said. "We have to stay out of the box. One of our main points is to not take too many penalties and it came back to bite us."

After losing the first period, both 2-1 on the scoreboard and 18-6 in shots on goal, the Capitals fired 12 shots on goal in the first 7:16 of the second and scratched out an even-strength goal from Knuble and one on the power play from Ovechkin to take a 3-2 lead.

However, Washington had its own penalty problems -- and the Rangers scored two of their four power-play goals within 40 seconds to re-take the lead at 4-3 at 12:59. Jokinen scored his first as a Ranger with Knuble serving a hooking penalty, and Prospal scored his second of the game just seven seconds into a 5-on-3.

Dubinsky's slick backhander from the lower part of the left circle gave made it 5-3 in favor of the Rangers. But no lead is ever safe against these Capitals.

"We just want to win, that's it," Ovechkin said. "We're pretty confident. It's a good atmosphere in the locker room. Everybody supports each other and everybody plays for each other. That's a good sign for us."

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