Stars beat Caps as late apparent equalizer washed out

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green (52) and Alex Ovechkin (8) of Russia argue with referee Dan O'Rourke (9) in the closing seconds of the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Dallas. A goal by the Capitals was with seconds left was disallowed by officials in the 2-1 Stars win. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green (52) and Alex Ovechkin (8) of Russia argue with referee Dan O’Rourke (9) in the closing seconds of the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Dallas. A goal by the Capitals was with seconds left was disallowed by officials in the 2-1 Stars win. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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DALLAS | Dallas Stars backup goalie Andrew Raycroft was good, and he was also a little lucky.

Raycroft made 37 saves to hold down the NHL’s highest-scoring offense, Brandon Segal scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, and the Stars survived a late scare to win their fifth straight, beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Thursday night.

The Capitals thought they’d tied it with 7.6 seconds left on a shot by John Carlson. Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins was tangled up with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. They both ended up in the crease, and referee Dan O’Rourke immediately disallowed the goal, ruling that Ovechkin had interfered with Raycroft.

By the time the puck entered the net, Raycroft was down on the ice, never seeing Ovechkin. He breathed a sign of relief when O’Rourke washed out the goal.

Raycroft said all he saw on the play was “Skrastins‘ butt. I couldn’t see a thing. I didn’t see the puck go in.”

Washington coach Bruce Boudreau was so livid over the decision that the Capitals received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Boudreau hadn’t calmed down after the game, contending that Skrastins had made contact with Raycroft, not Ovechkin.

“What do you want me to say that I can’t get fined for?” Boudreau said. “I mean, if you look at the call, Ovie doesn’t touch the guy. Their guy slides into the goalie and takes him out of the play, and the one ref is telling me Ovie’s in the paint.

“Well, I want to know when that rule changed that you can’t be in the paint, when you don’t touch anybody and you don’t interfere with anybody. … It cost us two points. It’s a bad call. Refs make bad calls, but at that time of the game, when you’re down by one, you better be sure something is happening.”

Ovechkin, whose goal-less streak reached nine games to match a career-long drought, refused to comment about the play.

Down the hall in the Stars‘ locker room, the focus was more on Raycroft in his fourth start of the season, giving Kari Lehtonen the night off.

“We had to have a great performance from our goalie,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “He was absolutely terrific. It’s a much bigger win when you get a performance like that from your backup. Sometimes you need your guys to rise to the challenge and Andrew didn’t let them down. It was huge for him, huge for us.”

Mike Ribeiro added a power-play goal to help Dallas snap Washington’s winning streak at four games.

Dallas is 7-0-1 in its last eight at home.

Mike Knuble struck on the power play and Michal Neuvirth stopped 19 shots for the NHL-leading Capitals.

Dallas capitalized on its third power play of the second period at 13:29 when Ribeiro broke up a scoreless game, finding space in front of the net and firing the rebound of Brad Richards’ shot past Neuvirth at 13:29.

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