The Washington Times - December 29, 2011, 11:38AM

Alexander Semin is paid a lot of money to score goals – $6.7 million this season, and through his first 31 games he hadn’t put up two in one night.

That changed Wednesday night in the Washington Capitals’ 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers. His sick backhander and wicked slap shot were a big reason for the bounce back effort.


“He’s an amazing player who when he’s on, he’s as good as any player in the league and definitely has the skills as good as any player in the league,” goaltender Tomas Vokoun said.

More even than that, the Caps need Semin to produce at this level.

“When he’s able to create goals and chances you rely on those guys,” forward Jeff Halpern said. “Every team gets 10 to 20 chances a game and if you have the guys that can take advantage of those chances, those shots then it makes it a lot easier.”

Semin still has just nine goals and eight assists in 32 games, well under the production that most expected. He has a team-worst 20 minor penalties, too.

Teammates can sense and relate to the frustration.

“It’s easy to point finger at anybody,” Vokoun said. “We’ve all been subject to low confidence of almost two months. No matter how good you are, when things are not going your way, you’re not scoring and things are not going well.”

He has been the subject of trade rumors, and a two-goal game might mean the Russian winger is at the height of his value. Wednesday night’s game was a strong effort all around, given Semin’s ability to not only score but play the other end of the ice capably.

“He’s a sniper and he can score, but he played the right way too,” coach Dale Hunter said. “He was backchecking and he created opportunities because of good defense.”