Captain Chris Clark scored in the 11th round of the shootout — after Semyon Varlamov made eight consecutive game-prolonging saves — to help the Washington Capitals shrug off late penalty trouble in a 5-4 victory against the New York Islanders at Verizon Center on Wednesday night.
Trent Hunter sent the game to overtime with a power-play goal from the right circle with 2:08 left in the final period. This was only Hunter’s third game of the season and first since Oct. 8 because of a chest injury.
Alexander Semin put the Caps on the board first with a rocket from the top of the right circle eight seconds after the opening faceoff. It tied Gaetan Duchesne’s goal on March 14, 1987 for the fastest tally to start a contest in team history.
Then the Islanders came roaring back with three straight markers in their first five shots to knock Caps starting goaltender Jose Theodore out of the game. Just as Semin had scored on Washington’s first shot, Matt Moulson did the same 54 seconds later on New York’s first attempt on net.
Mark Streit gave the Islanders the lead at 5:10 with a one-timer from the top of the offensive zone that surprised Theodore. Sean Bergenheim made it a two-goal advantage at 6:54 when Trent Hunter knocked Semin off the puck near the Islanders’ blue line and afforded Bergenheim a breakaway.
Bruce Boudreau yanked Theodore, and Varlamov helped steady the Caps while they mounted their comeback. Nicklas Backstrom skated around one Islanders forward and deked past defenseman Brendan Witt, but lost the puck in the slot with the Caps on the power play.
It went right to Tomas Fleischmann, who blasted a shot from close range at 13:42 of the first for his sixth goal in seven games since returning from a blood clot in his leg. Semin leveled the score at three with another extra-man goal at 5:35 of the second. Mike Green carried the puck behind the net before hitting Semin just to the right of the left faceoff circle for his ninth marker of the year.
Eric Fehr pushed Washington in front late in the middle period. He took a pass from Clark and with his back to goaltender Dwayne Roloson, whipped the puck toward the net. It might have been intended for Mathieu Perreault at the far post, but it glanced off an Islanders defenseman and beat Roloson to the short side at 16:46.
It was Fehr’s second goal of the season and first since missing six games with a rib injury. Clark also now has assists in four straight contests and five of the past six despite playing 14 minutes or less in all of them.
By Elaine Donnelly
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