There's an old saying that it's better to be lucky than good. Dallas' Andrew Raycroft was good when he had to be on Thursday night -- but a little luck didn't hurt.
Raycroft made 37 saves against Washington -- but he and the Stars also got the benefit of a late call that negated what would have been the tying goal as Dallas edged the Caps 2-1 to extend its winning streak to five games.
The Capitals thought they'd gotten the tying goal with 7.6 seconds left when a shot by John Carlson went into the net. Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins was tangled up with Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Both ended up plowing into Raycroft in the crease, and referee Dan O'Rourke immediately disallowed the goal, ruling that Ovechkin had interfered with the goaltender.
By the time the puck entered the net, Raycroft was down on the ice -- he never saw Ovechkin. The goaltender breathed a sign of relief when O'Rourke washed out the goal.
Raycroft said all he saw on the play was "Skrastins' butt. I couldn't see a thing. I didn't see the puck go in."
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was furious with the call -- angry enough that the Capitals received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Boudreau hadn't calmed down after the game, contending that Skrastins, not Ovechkin, had made contact with Raycroft.
"What do you want me to say that I can't get fined for?" Boudreau said. "I mean, if you look at the call, Ovi doesn't touch the guy. Their guy slides into the goalie and takes him out of the play, and the one ref is telling me Ovi's in the paint.
"I want to know when that rule changed that you can't be in the paint, when you don't touch anybody and you don't interfere with anybody. ... It cost us two points. It's a bad call. Refs make bad calls, but at that time of the game, when you're down by one, you better be sure something is happening."
Ovechkin, whose goal-less streak reached nine games to match a career-long drought, refused to comment about the play.
The Stars got a superb performance from Raycroft, who was making only his fourth start of the season while giving Kari Lehtonen the night off.
"We had to have a great performance from our goalie," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "He was absolutely terrific. It's a much bigger win when you get a performance like that from your backup. Sometimes you need your guys to rise to the challenge and Andrew didn't let them down. It was huge for him, huge for us."
Dallas went ahead at 13:29 of the second period when Mike Ribeiro found space in front of the net and firing the rebound of Brad Richards' shot past Michal Neuvirth at 13:29. Mike Knuble tied it at 10:18 of the third period, scoring from low in the left circle off Mike Green's cross-ice pass for a power-play goal.
But the tie lasted just 20 seconds. Brandon Segal put the Stars in front to stay by firing a shot from beyond the right circle that fluttered into the upper left corner of the net past a late-reacting Neuvirth.
Raycroft said shutting down Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and the rest of the NHL's most prolific offense was a team effort.
"They have two of the top five players in the world (Ovechkin and Semin)," said Raycroft, who improved to 6-3-1 for his career against the Caps. "They're dangerous. We did a great job. I don't remember any real good rush chances they had. They're the best in the best league in the world. You have to be sharp."
Ovechkin was involved in a scrap with Dallas' Adam Burish at the end of the opening period, earning Ovechkin a roughing minor. Burish checked Marcus Johansson cleanly near center ice, and Ovechkin took exception, jumping on Burish as players from both teams piled on the pair before punches could be exchanged.
Asked what the Stars did to keep him off the scoresheet, Ovechkin said, "Nothing. They played hard, we played hard. They had too many power plays and we don't. We dominated the first period and they had too many power plays in the second period. They just controlled the second period. And in the third period, we bounced back, we scored a goal, but the referee didn't recognize it."
Material from wire services was used in this report