- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | It wasn’t a definitive bounce-back performance, but the Washington Capitals‘ four-game losing streak is over.

Sergei Fedorov potted a backhand shot after a nifty pass from Viktor Kozlov 2:20 into overtime, and the Caps defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Tuesday night at Sommet Center. Alexander Semin collected the puck in the corner and cycled it to Kozlov, who saw Fedorov cutting to the net for his NHL record-tying 15th career overtime goal.

“It was a good character win for us and something we need to kind of shake things up,” Fedorov said. “I’m not a newborn here in that time of the game. I was very happy Viktor saw me, and the rest was history. It was a no-brainer.”

The four-game slide was the longest of coach Bruce Boudreau’s tenure. With the victory, the Caps pushed their points lead in the Southeast Division back to double digits over both Florida (a 4-3 shootout loser at Pittsburgh) and Carolina (idle). The Caps also kept pace with New Jersey, which beat Calgary to remain one point in front of Washington.


The opening few minutes of the first period were chippy, and it led to back-to-back fights three seconds apart. Nashville’s Wade Belak caught Donald Brashear with a left hook that stunned him and knocked him to the ice. After the puck was dropped, Matt Bradley fought Nashville agitator Jordin Tootoo. Bradley had to be taken to the dressing room and left a trail of blood in the process.

Bradley returned in the second period with a nasty cut on his nose, but Brashear was absent for the remainder of the contest. He has a sprained knee, but Boudreau was unsure of his availability for Thursday against the rough-and-tumble Philadelphia Flyers.

“I think we showed those two guys who were in those fights and got a little bit hurt that we are willing to work hard for them,” Fedorov said. “We were a little short-handed on the bench, but we showed them we are a team and kept plugging away and plugging away.”

For much of the second period, the Caps were frustrated by blocked and flubbed shots. Washington attempted 31 shots in the period, though only 10 were on net. Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin combined to go 0-for-8 in the middle 20 minutes.

But Ovechkin was a big part of the game-tying goal. Kozlov hit Ovechkin, who then slipped a pass to Nicklas Backstrom as he broke for the net. Backstrom waited out Nashville goalie Dan Ellis and flipped in a forehand shot for his 18th of the season with 1:21 left before the second intermission.

It was a different story in the final period, when the Caps peppered Ellis with 17 shots. Backstrom nearly had another goal in the third, but Ellis turned aside his rebound attempt by swatting the puck out of the air with his stick.

“I was like, ‘Thanks, a goal,’ ” Backstrom said. “I don’t know - maybe I was too sure to score, but I got it up, and he made a great save. He was great today.”

Moments later, Tomas Fleischmann also thought he had given the Caps the lead when he put in a rebound of a Kozlov shot, but it was waved off after an official review because he used a kicking motion to knock the puck in off his shin.

Ellis saved his teammates again late in the period. Ovechkin snapped a one-timer on a power play from the left circle, but Ellis was able to lunge across his crease and get just enough of it as Ovechkin dropped to his knees in disbelief.

The Predators dominated the first shift of the game and needed only 50 seconds to take the lead. Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter’s shot from the left point was the team’s fourth of the shift and found its way through a screen provided by Joel Ward.

“That’s about as bad a first shift as I’ve been involved with,” Boudreau said. “I thought we played as good a game as we’ve played in a long time, and we should have won in regulation, but we didn’t and we got the two points anyway.”

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