- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 7, 2007

They’re celebrating Russian Christmas in Moscow today. Two young Russian players celebrated last night in the Washington Capitals’ dressing room.

Alexander Semin had an assist and two goals, including one in overtime, and Alex Ovechkin snapped a personal five-game goal-less drought to lead the Caps to a second straight victory, 3-2 against the Atlanta Thrashers.

In an exciting game that brought loud responses from the crowd of 15,642 at Verizon Center, the Caps didn’t lead until Semin scored his 21st of the season with just 18 seconds left in overtime.

“I don’t know if there has been anything more entertaining this year,” coach Glen Hanlon said. “From our standpoint it was well-executed from both ends of the rink … and at the end it was the addition of some skill in our lineup from last year that you can double-up shift after shift while playing 4-on-4 (in overtime) and skill ended up winning out.”

Semin was the story of the night. His two goals came off backhanders, a weapon he seldom uses, preferring to go with a deceptive wrist shot that often comes after a faked slap shot.

“You go according to what other players do,” Semin said through an interpreter. “On the first one, the goalie [Kari Lehtonen], I didn’t see where he was. I just thought I would shoot from the backhand and it went in.”

His first goal tied the game at 1-1 in the opening minute of the second period. He faked a slap shot, then turned, positioning his body so it did not seem possible to shoot. But his backhander emerged and zipped into the top right corner.

Why the backhand last night?

“I had a bunch of chances to score from wristers or slap shots; it just happened on the backhand,” he said. “When you’re up against the goalie, you can’t really do anything else except for that.”

Beautiful passing led to the game winner, starting with one from Semin, who had only one hand on the stick as he guided the puck forward to Chris Clark. The right wing gained the zone and passed to defenseman Steve Eminger, who spun in a 360-degree motion to find Semin closing in on Lehtonen.

“Two-on-one then it became a breakaway,” Lehtonen said. “A great player knows how to put the puck in. I was there, but he was able to put it up top and there wasn’t much I could do. It was very frustrating.”

Ovechkin had gone without scoring a goal since the day after Christmas — the North American version of the holiday — a fact that did not seem to bother him.

“I don’t score for five or six games, but I don’t think about goals, but I want to score goals to help team,” Ovechkin said. “When I scored goal I was very happy and it was very important goal for us.”

Ovechkin’s goal tied the game at 2-2 with less than eight minutes in regulation, just enough time for Semin to come in and save the day.

Notes — Goalie Olie Kolzig was run over accidentally, 17 minutes into the second period, and was dazed for several minutes but continued to play. He returned to face a penalty shot from J.P. Vigier, and got a piece of it with the inside of his right pad, causing the puck to deflect off the right post. …

The Caps are scheduled to get left wing Matt Bradley (broken finger) back off injured reserve in time for Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia. Bradley, a much-missed physical presence, has been out since Dec. 9, when he broke a finger on his left hand in a fight against the Flyers. A surgical pin had to be implanted when the finger did not appear to be healing properly. …

Not coming back so quickly are right wing Richard Zednik (abdominal surgery), and defensemen John Erskine and Bryan Muir, both out with broken bones in their feet.

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