- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA

Whether it was suffering an embarrassing loss in this building in December, giving away a third-period lead the last time they faced the Philadelphia Flyers or having no regulation wins against them this season, the Washington Capitals had plenty of motivation Thursday night at Wachovia Center.

A sterling performance from goaltender Jose Theodore and a couple of key plays involving Alex Ovechkin helped the Caps escape a sold-out barn with a 2-1 victory - their second in a row and fifth straight away from Verizon Center.

“I thought, for a regular-season game, this was a very important game for us,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think our defense has played better since we had a good couple of meetings and practices, but [Theodore] made some really big saves. He’s in a real zone right now. This is something he’s used to doing at the end of the year, and hopefully it is something he can continue.”

The Flyers had 36 shots on goal, including 19 in a dominant second period. Still, Theodore had the answer for 35 of them in one of his best performances of the season.

He saved himself from being out of position with a lunging save midway through the second on a shot from Kimmo Timonen, but he also covered up a few defensive breakdowns during the course of the evening.

“He was phenomenal,” Caps forward David Steckel said. “That save in the second period speaks for itself. … If it wasn’t for him, it could have been 6-1 the other way.”

Added Ovechkin: “What can I say about him? He made great saves - big saves for us. It is very important for us to have the goalie play well, and we feel very good about him.”

Alexander Semin was moved to the top line in the second period, and Boudreau’s tinkering paid dividends just before intermission. Semin picked off a pass from Philadelphia’s Darroll Powe behind the Flyers’ net and quickly snapped a pass to Ovechkin alone in front for a one-timer and a 2-1 lead at 17:19.

It was Ovechkin’s league-leading 48th of the season. Since missing the Feb. 11 game against the New York Rangers, Semin has eight goals and 19 points, including at least one point in the past eight contests.

“It was a great pass by [Semin],” Ovechkin said. “It was easy to put it in the net. I think our key was to get it in deep and try to take the puck and put the puck in the middle to try and score goals. It was working when I score - it was a good job by my line.”

Brooks Laich had the lone goal of the first period at 15:57 on a power play. Standing in front of the net, he redirected a pass from Ovechkin for his 17th marker of the season and second in three games.

The Caps survived three Philadelphia power plays in the opening 20 minutes, including two infractions committed by left wing Alexandre Giroux. Sergei Fedorov was a late scratch from the lineup because of illness, so Giroux was recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.

Mike Knuble tied the score 11:32 into the middle period. Simon Gagne got the puck to Mike Richards to start a two-on-one, and Knuble had an easy tap-in after a nifty shot fake and pass from Richards.

The win allowed the Caps to remain one point behind the victorious New Jersey Devils for second place in the Eastern Conference. It was also another strong effort as the Caps tried to put a season-worst four-game losing streak behind them.

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