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Ovi leaves early, but Capitals rally

by Brian Hunter
Alex Ovechkin's day ended early, but the Washington Capitals were just getting started.

Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal of the game 3:10 into overtime and the Capitals rallied from a 3-0 deficit after two periods for a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon at the United Center.

Brooks Laich started the comeback and Eric Fehr had the goal that tied the game and forced the extra period. Washington eclipsed 100 points for the season, the earliest in franchise history it has reached that plateau.

"It's a strong sign, especially now at the end of the season," said Backstrom, who scored unassisted after working his way around Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook. "We know he (Ovechkin) is a key to our team and he scores a lot of goals. We have shown that we can play, that our other key players can, play, too."

Jonathan Toews scored twice in the first period and John Madden tallied in the second for the Blackhawks, who collapsed late for the second straight day. Chicago led 2-1 late in Saturday's game at Philadelphia before falling 3-2 on a Chris Pronger goal with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.

"We've got the most skill in the League, on any team," Toews said. "There's no reason, up 3-0, we can't go out and finish the team off."

With 7:44 left in the period, Ovechkin pushed Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell into the end boards. He originally skated to the penalty box and took a seat, but was then sent off the ice with a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct. Campbell headed to the dressing room as well and did not return.

"I don't think it was a real good check. He just kind of fell and it was a dangerous moment. It was not a hard hit. I just wanted to push him," Ovechkin said.

"I didn't hit him hard. I pushed him, but he fell bad. It probably looks bad. I thought it was going to be two minutes, but the linesman came to me and said 'Game over.'"

Naturally, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville saw the play a bit differently.

"The League will do what they do," he said. "Soupy (Campbell) is going to be out for a bit here. It was a dangerous hit."

Added defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson: "I hope they take a good look and suspend him for a couple of games."

Penalty trouble by Chicago helped Washington get back into the game in the third. With Jordan Hendry serving a double high-sticking minor, Antti Niemi stopped a shot by Mike Green but Laich cleaned up on the rebound at the 5:29 mark. Making matters worse, Colin Fraser was called for high-sticking on the play, creating a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes with the second half of Hendry's penalty still on the board.

Niemi made several big stops, including a pad save to deny Backstrom off a rebound. The Capitals also missed the net several times in failing to convert. However, three seconds after the two penalties expired, Backstrom cleaned up on another rebound, a Joe Corvo shot that bounced off the end boards and came back out in front.

Fehr then one-timed a David Steckel feed from behind the net, giving the Capitals two goals in the span of 13 seconds, three in 2:16 and a tie score.

The first 20 minutes were hardly what Washington coach Bruce Boudreau had in mind. The Capitals fell behind 2-0 on a pair of goals by Toews and lost the services of their captain for the remainder of the afternoon.

Toews opened the scoring seven minutes into the first with the teams skating 4-on-4 after minor penalties to Alexander Semin and Andrew Ladd.

The Capitals killed off the first four minutes of Ovechkin's major and almost tied the game when Semin went in on a shorthanded breakaway. But he was stopped by Niemi before crashing into the goaltender and picking up an interference penalty.

On the ensuing 5-on-3 advantage, the Blackhawks took a two-goal lead. Patrick Sharp hit the post off a Patrick Kane feed, but Toews found the puck before Jose Theodore knew where it was and beat the goalie between his pads with 3:06 left.

A redirection by Madden made it 3-0 with 6:54 elapsed in the second. Duncan Keith held a puck in at the blue line and sent it toward the net. Madden got a stick on the puck in the high slot and deflected it past a helpless Theodore.

In addition to losing Campbell, the Blackhawks also played without Marian Hossa, who was scratched due to an upper-body injury apparently sustained in Saturday's loss.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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