OTTAWA | Mike Fisher´s lack of offense this season was the topic of newspaper articles and sports-talk radio in this town Tuesday.
However, the words printed and said about him Wednesday likely will be different. Fisher scored with 39.9 seconds left in overtime, and the Ottawa Senators defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 at Scotiabank Place.
Fisher, who signed a five-year, $21 million extension this offseason, had no goals or assists in the team’s first nine games but had a hand in both goals for the Senators, who won despite a great effort from Caps goaltender Brent Johnson.
Johnson turned aside 42 of 44 shots. Washington entered the night ranked 22nd in the NHL with a 3.30 goals-against average, but Johnson had the best game for a Washington goaltender this season.
“Fabulous game,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said of Johnson. “[Goaltending coach] Dave Prior said it might have been the best structurally he’s played as a Capital. He did everything he could to keep us in it.”
Penalty killing and Johnson kept the Caps in the game early. The teams played to a 0-0 draw through one period, but Ottawa had a prime chance to open the scoring. Washington withstood a three-on-five for 1:57. There were several key individual efforts from Caps’ players, but there was a bit of luck as well. Senators left wing Dany Heatley misfired on an easy layup early in the two-man advantage.
The Caps’ penalty killers persevered again late in the second period. Sergei Fedorov was whistled for hooking, but then he flipped the puck into the protective netting above the glass in frustration, and he was assessed an additional minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Washington killed off both penalties in four minutes. The Senators managed only two shots on net during the advantage.
Entering the game, the Caps had erased 80 percent of opposing man advantages - good for 18th in the NHL. But they dispatched all five of Ottawa’s chances.
Heatley’s mistake late in the first period led to the first goal of the game early in the second. He went to the penalty box for tripping with 57 seconds left in the opening period, but Mike Fisher hit him with a perfect pass as Heatley returned to the ice and beat Johnson on the breakaway at 1:13 of the second.
It was Heatley’s eighth goal of the season, but it was the first point of the year for Fisher.
“I don’t know what to say. We’re just kind of in a funk right now,” Caps forward Brooks Laich said. “We’re working hard, but we’re not working hard enough. We are not making smart enough plays, and we’ve got to get this thing turned around.”
Tomas Fleischmann was promoted to the second line with Alexander Semin and Michael Nylander for the game, and he got the Caps even a little more than two minutes after Heatley’s marker. Nylander kept the puck in the offensive zone and got it to Semin in the middle of the ice.
Semin held the puck and pulled it back as if he were snapping off a wrist shot but instead he slipped it to Fleischmann, who cut to the net. He deked to his backhand and flipped a shot past Ottawa goalie Alex Auld for his fourth goal of the year.
Semin’s assist gives him 17 points, one behind Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin for the league lead.
After looking a little shaky on the first two shots, Johnson settled in the first period. His biggest play of the period came on an early breakway for Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson. The Senators’ captain broke in alone, but Johnson sprawled to his right and swatted the puck away with his outstretched stick to nullify the opportunity.
Alex Ovechkin returned from a two-game absence after spending six days in Russia with his ill grandfather, but his slow start to the season continued. He remains stuck on two goals and three assists.
Notes - David Steckel and Eric Fehr were the healthy scratches. …
A projection of the presidential election was shown at two points during the game on the scoreboard, and in both instances Sen. Barack Obama’s lead was met with a round of hearty cheers from the crowd. …
This was the first time during Boudreau’s tenure that the Caps have not come back from a shutout with at least four goals in the next contest.