Washington's centerpiece trade deadline deal continued to pay big dividends Thursday night, as new Capital Jason Arnott buried an Alexander Semin feed with just 5:19 left to play in regulation in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center.
The Capitals earned their third straight comeback win thanks to some more third-period heroics, as Semin broke in the St. Louis zone on a 2-on-1 break and fed a cross-ice pass to Arnott, who buried the puck past Blues goaltender Ty Conklin for the eventual-game winner.
"[Arnott] is just an experienced body," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When Semin gave him a really good pass, he didn't have to make a play, he just had to shoot the puck because he was already in shooting position."
With the win -- and Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss in Boston -- Washington moves just a point behind the Lightning for the Southeast Division lead, and also just a point behind idle fourth-place Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Washington got off to a slow start, falling behind just 11:25 into the game as Alex Steen buried a pass from Chris Stewart that eluded Caps defender Scott Hannan and ended up in the back of the net behind Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth.
Hannan made up for the defensive lapse early in the second, as he was the beneficiary of some strong work by Matt Hendricks in the corner. Hendricks skated into the corner during a Washington line change and eventually dug the puck out of a scrum and over to Alexander Ovechkin, who then fed the puck out front to Hannan, who buried it for his first goal as a Capital with just 3:08 gone in the second.
"When I see the opportunity, I try to jump in," Hannan said. "If I can help out on that side of the puck, it's anyway I can."
Washington surrendered a tally just 2:06 later, as B.J. Crombeen took the puck off a faceoff and then beat John Erskine down the wing, eventually breaking in the Capitals zone and beating Neuvirth with a blast and a 2-1 Blues lead.
The St. Louis lead was short-lived, however, as Nick Backstrom finished a wild rush with a baseball-type finish. John Carlson rushed up the ice, fed the puck to Ovechkin at the blue line, who kicked the puck over to Mike Knuble. Knuble's pass went airborne, but Backstrom swung his stick to redirect the puck past Conklin just 1:34 after St. Louis' go-ahead goal.
"I've been working out with [Nationals third baseman] Ryan Zimmerman this summer," Backstrom joked. "I saw the puck in the air and got lucky."
Asked if he taught Backstrom the move that was similar to Ovechkin's baseball-type attempt at the All-Star game's breakaway challenge, Ovechkin laughed and said "No, I missed."
Washington had some decent chances in the third period, and it eventually paid off with the win. With just over five minutes to play, Semin broke down the wing, fed Arnott in front, and the Capitals sent the sellout crowd of 18,398 home happy thanks to the nifty play that was finished by one of the newest Caps.
"You get a two-on-one with [Semin], it's pretty good," Arnott simply said afterwards.
"I think all three [new] guys play well," Ovechkin told reporters afterwards. "Seems like they have been here a long time; they play well together."
"I'm not surprised [by the play of the new guys] or we wouldn't have traded for them," Boudreau said afterwards.
Washington heads on an important two-game road trip through the Sunshine State, playing the Florida Panthers in Sunrise Sunday before a showdown with the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday night.
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