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Big lead doesn’t hold up for Caps

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Washington Capitals lost last night. Some club officials are hoping it was just a game that was lost and not a lot more.

The Caps held a four-goal advantage six minutes into the second period, with the Pittsburgh Penguins struggling to do anything right. Then, as if someone flipped a switch, the entire scenario reversed.

The Penguins rallied to beat Washington 5-4 in a shootout. It was the first time in at least 15 seasons the Caps had blown a lead of that size.

"It was our mistake," Alex Ovechkin said. "We score two goals, and we stop playing. We not concentrate on defense, zones; they have three shots and they score three goals. It's our fault. We just stopped playing. It was too late in third period when they score four goals to do something. We go to overtime and have to score goal on power play. I have to score goal when I have chance. I don't."

Trailing 4-0 in the second period, Pittsburgh scored three times in 12 minutes to climb back into the game. Despite giving up the tying goal in the third period, the Capitals still had a chance to win at the beginning of the overtime period but failed to record a shot while on a power play for 1:58.

"We were really embarrassed," Pittsburgh center Erik Christensen said of the Penguins' terrible start. "You can't just turn it on. You have to come ready to play. We thought our effort from Atlanta would carry over, but it didn't work that way. We watched the video, and Washington works very hard. We got outplayed and outworked in the first period. We were embarrassed, got a little wakeup call and came back. We had a huge second period, but they gave us a chance to come back."

The Caps held a 21-11 shot lead early in the second but were outshot 22-8 for the rest of regulation.

"I don't know what it was," said Chris Clark, who had two goals for the Caps. "We played well enough to get a four-goal lead. We should be playing well enough to keep a four-goal lead. ... We just maybe got a little greedy and got cute. You don't want to play cautious, but sometimes it gets in your nature."

Clark's goals along with scores by Kris Beech and Brooks Laich helped Washington to its early advantage.

"Guys tried to do things we shouldn't have and turned it over," Clark said. "It doesn't take much to get on a roll. They did a great job at causing some things out there. Their grinder guys did great at causing a momentum change."

Ovechkin scored in the shootout, the first and only Capitals player to do so this season.

Notes -- The Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots drive is at Verizon Center on Saturday night when the Capitals play host to the Philadelphia Flyers. New, unwrapped items are welcome. ...

Defenseman Jamie Heward (facial laceration), right wing Richard Zednik (groin) and left wing Matt Bradley (hand) were medical scratches for Washington.