- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 28, 2007

An adjustment of strategy, a tweak of the lines and a heavy dose of Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin was all the Washington Capitals needed.

One night after the Carolina Hurricanes blasted the Caps in Raleigh, N.C., Semin had two goals and an assist and Ovechkin added a goal and a helper in a 7-3 rout of the Stanley Cup champions in front of 16,924 at Verizon Center.

Semin and Ovechkin helped the Caps to a 3-0 lead with a little generosity from the Hurricanes. All three goals were unassisted and were a direct result of Carolina turnovers. Semin’s first goal came on a 2-on-1 and his second of the night (and 29th of the season) was a breakaway after he stole the puck from Carolina’s Erik Cole.

“Not surprising,” Ovechkin said of Semin’s highlight-reel quality goals. “He’s a great player and scorer. We both love score goals and I am very happy for him. … He was the best today.”

Ovechkin’s 31st of the year came on the power play after Hurricanes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg lost control of the puck at the goal line to the left of Carolina goalie Cam Ward.

Chris Clark, who netted his career-high 21st goal in the third period, attributed some of the Hurricanes turnover issues to a change in the way the Caps forechecked. Noting Carolina’s tendency to move the puck out of the zone along the boards, the Caps sent one player into the zone and then had both wings stay along the wall to pressure the clearing attempt.

Coach Glen Hanlon shuffled three of the team’s four lines and the moves were an instant success. The team recalled right wing Eric Fehr, one of the organization’s top prospects, and Hanlon placed him on a line with Semin and Brooks Laich.

Fehr got off to a slow start with a turnover and a penalty in the game’s first three minutes, but he recorded his first career NHL goal 15:18 into the second period and it proved to be the game-winner.

Laich added a shorthanded goal to close the scoring.

“It was awesome,” Fehr said. “I stole the puck from Semin and I kinda felt bad so I really wanted to put that one in so he wouldn’t be mad at me.”

With Matt Bradley unavailable again because of personal reasons, Hanlon shifted Matt Pettinger and Boyd Gordon onto Brian Sutherby’s line. While that unit didn’t produce any goals, all three players logged more minutes than Ovechkin and Semin.

“I thought the play of Gordon, Sutherby and Pettinger was a real plus for us,” Hanlon said. “Any successful team, if you can get a shutdown line it really frees up your other lines.”

And the Caps’ two young Russian stars provided plenty of firepower. Since Dec. 11, when Ovechkin and Semin combine to score at least two goals, the Caps are 8-1.

When they don’t, Washington is 0-12.

Semin added his assist on the Fehr goal when he worked the puck free from Hurricanes defenseman David Tanabe.

Ovechkin set up Kris Beech when he muscled his way through two Hurricanes defenders near the left face-off circle and slid a perfect pass to Beech, who banged home a one-timer in the third period.

Notes — Right wing Richard Zednik went through an individual workout yesterday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. Caps coach Glen Hanlon said both the team and Zednik are targeting the team’s game at Ottawa on Tuesday for his return but await medical clearance. Zednik has missed 25 games with a groin injury. …

The Caps were also without defenseman Brian Pothier (upper body) for the second consecutive game. While defensemen Bryan Muir and John Erskine, both out with a broken foot, are getting closer to returning, the strain on the blue line corps has shown.

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