- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2008

Their Russian mentor and linemate was missing, but that didn’t stop Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin from stealing the show - and two important points - for the Washington Capitals.

Semin had a pair of goals in the final three minutes - both on feeds from Ovechkin - and the Caps defeated the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Thursday night at Verizon Center despite an injury to linemate Sergei Fedorov.

Semin tied the contest with 2:43 remaining in the third period and won it with 10.9 seconds left.

“It’s great to come back after you’re losing,” Ovechkin said. “It just shows that you have great team. It shows we have great character here. Today was special day for us.”

On the game-tying tally, Semin took a pass behind the net from Ovechkin and skated out to the right of Carolina goalie Cam Ward. Semin turned and scooped a shot toward the cage that hit Ward’s stick and bounced up and over his left shoulder.

It set off a celebration of not only jubilation but also relief. The Caps had been scrambling for the equalizer in the final period, eschewing defensive responsibilities and turning the game into an end-to-end track meet.

“We had a lot of chances early on, but we just couldn’t bury them, and it seems like it has been like that for a while,” defenseman Mike Green said. “It was nice to see [Semin] pot a couple there. We needed that.”

Semin capped the comeback with a wrist shot from between the circles for his team-leading 10th goal of the season. He and Ovechkin broke into the zone against a pair of Carolina defenders, and Ovechkin fed Semin for his third assist of the night.

For 57 minutes, it appeared Washington would lose for the sixth time in eight contests and the offense would take the blame again. Instead, it was an important win for the Caps, who would have fallen six points behind the Hurricanes with a regulation loss.

“We get two points on them, and we don’t go to overtime,” goalie Brent Johnson said. “It’s a really good win, and it’s good for a divisional game.”

It was a win that extracted a physical toll on the Caps. Sergei Fedorov began the night centering Ovechkin and Semin, but he left the game about six minutes into the third period with a undisclosed injury and did not return. Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn also left the contest with a pulled groin.

Johnson stopped 32 shots and made several key saves on odd-man rushes in the final 20 minutes to keep the team in it.

For the fourth time in 12 games this season, the Caps yielded a goal on the first shot they allowed. Carolina defenseman Josef Melichar sent a wrist shot from the left point toward the net, and Scott Walker deflected it past Johnson.

“That’s our plan,” Boudreau joked. “Yeah, I looked up to see if it was the first shot, and it was. Those things - it is tipped, and it bounces off the ice - that could have been the 40th shot, and it would have gone in.”

Boudreau shuffled the lines for the game, reuniting the three Russians on the top line. They played together as a unit for Russia in the IIHF World Championship this summer in Canada.

Fedorov had a pair of great chances to score in the first period, but Ward made a great save on one, and the 38-year-old Russian hit the right post on the other attempt. Early in the second, Fedorov had another great opportunity and didn’t miss.

Ovechkin took an outlet pass from Jeff Schultz along the left boards at the blue line and then sent the puck into an open area in the middle of the offensive zone. Fedorov won the race to the puck and snapped a shot into the top left corner of the net for his fourth of the season at 3:05.

It was the eighth straight game without a goal for Ovechkin - the longest stretch of his career - and Nicklas Backstrom continues to be without a point at even strength. Still, their play was an encouraging sign for the Caps.

Ovechkin set up all three goals, and Boudreau said Backstrom had his best game of the season.

“I think [the slump] is all about [the media],” Ovechkin said. “[The media] say I play no well. I think I play the same way I have. I think I still have chances, and I create some moments.”

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