- The Washington Times - Friday, December 23, 2005

ATLANTA — The Washington Capitals carried a two-goal lead into the third period last night. It wasn’t enough.

No fewer than four Washington Capitals had multi-point games, including Alex Ovechkin who enjoyed the second four-point night of his career. It wasn’t enough.

What it took was another shootout between Washington and Atlanta to decide the issue and the same two players who decided it before — Ovechkin and goalie Brent Johnson — decided it again.

Ovechkin scored the only goal in the shootout and Johnson stoned the Thrashers shooters for a 6-5 Washington victory in a very odd game.

“We just expect him to hold strong and steal us a point,” said coach Glen Hanlon of Johnson. “It was unexpected for him to shut them out in a shootout.”

Ovechkin finished with a goal and three assists — his shootout goal doesn’t count in personal totals.

“When I got into the shootout, I know what I’m going to do,” Ovechkin said. “I just got the shot that was available and was able to make.”

Jamie Heward, Mathieu Biron and Dainius Zubrus all had two-point nights. Marian Hossa had a five-point night for Atlanta to tie a team record.

Washington is now 4-2 in shootouts with one of the wins coming Nov. 4 against Atlanta. The Thrashers are 0-4.

Washington had a 5-3 lead entering the third period but gave up two goals to send the game into overtime. The extra five-minute period was scoreless, setting up the tie-breaker.

Washington had been burned more than once lately when at a two-man disadvantage and was again last night when Atlanta scored while two up in the first period and came back on the second of the power plays and scored again, a pair of goals within 50 seconds, enough to depress the most optimistic soul.

But for once the Caps turned things around. Atlanta took a series of penalties early in the second and the Caps not only found themselves up two men twice but converted both times, the first time this season Washington has done so.

To begin with, Jeff Halpern on a power play and Brooks Laich got it started in the first but the Caps still trailed 3-2 after one when the Thrashers took advantage of some sloppy Washington defensive play and two power plays.

The second period belonged to Washington. Ovechkin started it with a slap shot from the top of the left circle while Atlanta was down a pair, and Mathieu Biron scored on another two-man advantage 59 seconds later, another long slap shot finding net.

Then Ovechkin displayed his grit 16 minutes into the second, when he took defenseman Niclas Havelid into the rear boards, took the puck away and passed blindly into the slot. There was his center, Dainius Zubrus, with nobody close. He juggled it for a second to get it flat then gently flicked it through Michael Garnett’s legs.

Washington again defended itself late in the second when Thrasher forward Marc Savard tried to dislodge the puck from Johnson’s grasp after the whistle had blown. Johnson and Ovechkin both went after Savard and all three took penalties.

Notes — Defenseman Ivan Majesky has been named to the Slovakian Olympic team along with ex-Caps Peter Bondra (Atlanta) and Richard Zednik (Montreal). Majesky has represented Slovakia several times in international play. He missed the first 15 games of the season while recovering from a knee injury sustained in the 2005 World Championships. Bondra did not play last night, out with a serious groin problem. He is not due back until early January. … The Russian Olympic team, which undoubtedly will include Ovechkin, was to have been announced yesterday but was the announcement was delayed at least a day without explanation. … Defenseman Nolan Yonkman was the lone healthy scratch. Left wing Jeff Friesen (groin) was the line unhealthy scratch.



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