The Washington Times - December 18, 2008, 11:02PM

The Caps have now won five in a row for the second time this season. Still, it wasn’t a great effort — but it was enough against a banged-up team in the basement of the Western Conference. Here are some notes:

* Alexander Semin was cross-checked in the lower back midway through the third period by David Backes, and did not return. Bruce Boudreau said he is day-to-day, and he also said that is the same spot that made him miss 12 games.


The hit set off a bit of a scrum, and certainly made the last 11 minutes a little more interesting. Alex Ovechkin skated over to Backes and let him know of his displeasure with the situation.

* Simeon Varlamov is now two-for-two as an NHL goaltender. This one was special for him because his dad, Alexander, was in the seats. The voice of the Hershey Bears, John Walton, gave the elder Varlamov a ride to D.C. from centreal PA. He has been living with his son to help him with the transition to life in North America.

Varlamov stopped 29 of 31 shots. He didn’t have to be more than steady often, but his stop on Keith Tkachuk on a breakaway with the Caps up 4-2 was probably the backbreaker.

* Tomas Fleischmann set a career-high with his 11th goal of the year. He also just looked much healthier, making several shifty moves. After the game he said his leg felt much better than it did against the Islanders on Sunday.

* The Blues pulled goalie Ben Bishop with 3:06 remaining because there was a 4-on-4 situation, and the extra attacker gave them a de facto power play. The Caps didn’t challenge the empty net during the 5-on-4, but Eric Fehr hit the outside of the net when it was 6-on-5.

* The Caps have now won five consecutive games three times in the past 40 games. Before that, it had been six years since the last one.

* The holiday roster freeze is tomorrow. Alexandre Giroux is a candidate to be sent to Hershey, but that would depend on Semin. Any other moves would only have to be made if the team wants to take Chris Clark or Jeff Schultz off long-term IR, which isn’t likely to happen. If the Caps aren’t confident in Jose Theodore’s hip for Saturday, then Simeon Varlamov will be around until at least Dec. 27.