- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2006

Alex Ovechkin, the unofficial spokesman for the Washington Capitals, summed up the situation quite properly and politely: “They play very well. We play better.”

The Caps extended their winning streak to four last night, throttling Ottawa 6-2 and defeating the Senators for the second time this season at Verizon Center. Five players scored goals to back Olie Kolzig’s typically strong game in goal.

Chris Clark had a pair, while Matt Bradley, Alexander Semin, Matt Pettinger and Brooks Laich contributed single goals for the Caps; Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus had three assists apiece.

Washington hadn’t won four straight since January; it hasn’t won five in a row since early March 2001.

“They played well early,” Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said of the Caps, “then we played pretty well in the second, then it became a penalty game in the third.”

Murray, the all-time winningest Caps coach, complained about what he said were missed calls that resulted in Washington scores, then offered: “[The Caps] were very active tonight. … The Caps worked hard. You have to give them credit. They took care of the power play and took our guys out of the game.”

Bradley and Clark scored twice within a minute in the first before Ottawa closed the gap to one. Clark then scored the winner 14 minutes into the second, his first multiple goal game since a hat trick against Florida in March.

Jason Spezza brought the Senators to within one in the third, but Semin, Pettinger and Laich quickly put the game out of reach. Laich’s hard work was finally rewarded with his first goal of the season

“It was more relief than anything,” Laich said. “I’ve been getting some chances, but the puck just hasn’t been going in. I just kind of threw the puck at the net, and it went in. That’s the way the game was for us tonight. It was a big goal personally; it didn’t mean much in the game.”

There were milestones everywhere. It was Bradley’s 300th game and his third goal of the season; his shot was one of a season-high 19 in the first period for the team. Semin’s goal was his 11th, one more than he scored as a rookie three years ago, while his 22 points match that season’s total. Pettinger had a goal and an assist to give him goals in three straight games and points in five in a row, both personal highs.

“There’s some real positive patterns starting to show in our game,” coach Glen Hanlon said, referring to the improving penalty-killers who gave up one score last night but turned aside seven other chances. “With each win you can draw on positive experiences. We feel pretty good in the sense we can score some goals now.”

Semin did a mini-dance in celebration after he scored. A wide grin spread across his normally serious face.

When asked about the smile, Semin pointed at fellow Russian Ovechkin and said, “Look at him. He smile so much he have stretch marks across mouth.”

Notes — Zubrus and Bradley returned to the lineup last night. Zubrus missed two games with a virus, and Bradley was out two games to attend a funeral. With Zubrus back, center Jakub Klepis became a healthy scratch. …

Medical scratches were defenseman Jamie Heward (facial laceration) and right wing Richard Zednik (groin). Heward, who underwent five hours of surgery Saturday, skated yesterday on his own. It is not thought Zednik will be available to skate at least through the weekend. …

The Senators were missing a significant player. Right wing Daniel Alfredsson, the Ottawa captain, was out with a lower body injury sustained Tuesday night against the Islanders.

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