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Red Wings backhand Capitals in SO win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The Wings slapped the Washington Capitals with a backhand -- actually three of them -- on Monday night.

The Wings got three shootout goals, all on backhand shots, and added two power play goals, en route to a 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit is now 5-0 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler all chose to go with backhand shots in the shootout for the Red Wings. Alexander Semin scored the Capitals’ lone goal in the shootout.

“It was a tough game for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think we were as sharp at the start, but I was impressed with their team. . . . I didn’t think we were fluid, but in saying that I thought we had guys play real hard.”

One of those guys was definitely left wing Tomas Holmstrom, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a knee injury. He scored two goals, including a power play tally.

Asked about the three backhanded goals, Zetterberg said, “You just try to do the things that you believe. Pavel led the way there and after that we just kept doing it.”

Special teams played a huge role for both squads in regulation that forced overtime and the subsequent shootout. Each team scored twice on power-play chances.

The Wings have scored on the power-play in 13 of the last 14 games.

“You have to win the specialty teams battle and we take a lot of pride in having good specialty teams,” Babcock said. “Our front-net presence, we have with either (Dan) Cleary or Holmstrom, and then the guys just moving the puck, and right now we just have good confidence.”

The Capitals limited the Wings’ ability to set-up in the offensive zone at will. The Caps, led by Ovechkin and rookie center Nicklas Backstrom, did a superb job of playing keep away with the puck.

“They didn’t allow is to get a forecheck going,” Babcock said. “They did a good job of getting the puck out of their zone. I was impressed. There aren’t many teams that keep us off kilter all night long like they did tonight. I didn’t think we showed them enough respect at the start, but I thought we got better. They made it hard for us.”

The 2006 Calder Trophy winner, Ovechkin gets a lot of attention and respect for his offensive skills -- and rightly so. His 11th power play goal of the season tied the score at 1-1 in the first period.

But it was Datsyuk, who paved the path for the Wings’ win with three assists, including power play goals by linemates Holmstrom and Zetterberg. Datsyuk also assisted on Holmstrom’s second tally that gave the Wings a 3-2 lead at 15:17 of the third.

The Capitals, who had rallied from behind in their last three wins, forced overtime on Semin’s power play goal with 94 seconds left in the third period.

The best scoring chance in overtime came with about 1:23 left when Ovechkin skated in along on Hasek, who closed off the bottom of the net and gloved Ovechkin’s point-blank shot.

“He made a good shot in the first period,” said Hasek of Ovechkin. “It’s still a save that I think I can make. In the overtime, I stayed patient on what I think was a partial breakaway. He made a move to his forehand, but I had my pad and my glove there, and he shot into my glove.”

As has been the trend this season, the Wings scored first on Monday, when Holmstrom momentarily tied Ovechkin for the league-lead in power play goals at 3:57.

The Wings have compiled a 19-3-2 record when scoring first this season.

After missing the last two games with a sore knee, Holmstrom picked up where he left off, scoring one of his typical goals while perched in his office – outside of the crease. Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot toward the far post was redirected off Holmstrom’s right skate and into the back of the net for his 10th power play tally.

Six minutes later, Ovechkin took back the power play lead when he ripped a wrist shot through Hasek’s legs at 9:58. After Hudler was whistled for holding, Capitals center Michael Nylander cleanly won the ensuing face-off to Ovechkin in the slot, where the 2006 rookie of the year then sent a laser through Hasek’s five-hole.

The Wings, who were victims of two fluky goals in their 5-2 win over Florida on last Saturday, gave up another one Monday. Worse yet, the Capitals received the Wings’ gift in the final minute of the period to take a 2-1 edge into the first intermission. Defenseman Jeff Schultz sent a slap shot from the point that ricocheted off Holmstrom’s stick and traveled 59-feet -- arching through the air -- before landing safely behind Hasek. It was Schultz’s fifth goal of the season and his fourth on his last six shots.

The Wings scored the lone goal of the second period – their second power play tally of the game -- to tie things up, 2-2.

With Caps tough guy Donald Brashear serving a roughing penalty, Zetterberg took a crisp cross-ice pass from Datsyuk and blasted a one-timer past Olie Kolzig, who couldn’t recover in time to close the open side of the net.

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