- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2008

The four skaters on the ice to begin overtime yesterday — Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green — make up the nucleus of a bright future for the Washington Capitals.

Yesterday they showed why the present isn’t so bad either.

Green scored 23 seconds into the extra session to propel the Caps to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in front of 17,873 at Verizon Center. It was Green’s third overtime winner of the season — a team record — and second in as many games against the Rangers.

“You’ve got two of the most skilled players in the league out there in Alex and Alex,” Green said. “Everyone shoots the puck well, and whoever gets a chance to shoot it has a good chance of it going in.”

The Caps have won six consecutive games that have needed bonus hockey (four in overtime, two in shootouts). Washington also moved back into first place in the Southeast Division with the victory and continued the team’s streak of not losing back-to-back contests in regulation since Bruce Boudreau became coach.

In total, the Caps have won six games in overtime this season. The winning goals: Backstrom, Green, Green, Ovechkin, Ovechkin and Green. Semin also had the winner in one of the team’s two shootout victories.

Ovechkin had a goal and two assists to push his league-leading totals to 47 goals and 76 points, and Semin added a pair of assists. Green’s 15th of the season was his first in 10 games and is two more than New York’s Michal Rozsival for most among NHL defensemen. Backstrom made the play on Ovechkin’s goal for his only point of the afternoon and 45th of the season, which puts him second behind Chicago’s Patrick Kane (46) for the rookie scoring lead.

“[They] were great today,” Boudreau said. “When they get to move the puck and they make simple plays, the game seems to come very easy to them.”

While the kids were great, the Caps would not have won without a fine performance from the team’s graybeard, 37-year-old goaltender Olie Kolzig. New York outshot Washington 33-24, and Kolzig had a couple of marvelous stops in his 296th career win, which ties him with Ron Hextall for 23rd in league history.

“We needed Olie,” Boudreau said. “He played superior today and kept us in the game until we finally got a little bit on track.”

The goals by Ovechkin and Green both came on the power play, an area of concern in recent weeks for the Caps. Washington was 1-for-24 in its previous eight games with the man advantage but opened and closed the scoring with power-play goals.

The penalty killers also did their part. While the Caps spent much of the middle portion of the game taking penalties — including five minor infractions in a 20-minute span — the Rangers could not convert. They finished the day 0-for-6 on the power play, becoming the fourth team in five games not to score against the Caps with the extra man.

“We got in a little penalty trouble, but our special teams won it for us,” forward Boyd Gordon said. “A couple power-play goals and the PK was good — that definitely helps in any game.”

New York led 2-1 on goals by Sean Avery and Chris Drury before Gordon scored what might be remembered as one of the biggest goals of the season. Ovechkin’s shot was turned aside by Rangers goalie Stephen Valiquette, but Gordon was there to backhand the rebound in with 14.6 seconds left in the second period.

It was a huge shift in momentum, especially considering the Caps are 0-22-1 this year when trailing after 40 minutes.

“[Gordon] works so hard, he just needed one to finally go in,” Green said.

Caps report

Yesterday at Verizon Center

QUOTABLE

“They found out they like to win. It’s like if there is a food you don’t like and your mother keeps telling you to eat it and you don’t want to eat it, but all of a sudden you do and you go, ‘Hey, that’s not bad.’ You want to keep eating that stuff.”

— Caps coach Bruce Boudreau

BY THE NUMBERS

9 Consecutive goals for Alex Ovechkin scored at even strength before his power-play marker in the first period — the longest such streak of his career.

7 Penalties in five games for defenseman Shaone Morrisonn since returning from a bruised foot, including five in the past two games.

700 Career games for Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig.

Corey Masisak


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