- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

There aren’t many players in the NHL who can do something so spectacular that it may seem they are the only ones capable of such a feat.

Alexander Semin is one of those plays. Semin’s dramatic end-to-end rush produced a highlight-reel, game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory Saturday night for the Washington Capitals against the Boston Bruins at sold-out Verizon Center.

“Lots of people watch [Alex Ovechkin], but I’ve always said Alexander [Semin] - when he decides to - can be the best player in the league,” Caps forward Donald Brashear said. “In my mind he is a top-five player in this league, but he has to bring it on a regular basis.”

The play started with a bad pass from Milan Jurcina near his own blue line. Jurcina recovered to poke the puck away from Martin St. Pierre and into the corner to the right of Washington netminder Jose Theodore.

St. Pierre made a soft pass toward the left point, and Semin swooped in to intercept, tapped the puck past defenseman Mark Stuart at the blue line. Semin carried it into the Boston offensive zone before unleashing a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle that beat Bruins goalie Tim Thomas high before he could raise his glove at 11:48 of the final period.

“I wish he’d shoot more because he’s got that kind of shot,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s got that kind of individual talent, and you can see it all the time.”

The goal was Semin’s 18th of the season and proved to be the difference for the Caps, who have won two straight since a three-game losing streak. The victory cut the Bruins’ lead in the Eastern Conference to nine points.

Twice the Caps have squared off with the conference-leading Bruins at Verizon, and twice they have held serve. Boston will have its chances to do the same after the All-Star break - the first coming Jan. 27 at TD Banknorth Garden.

“It means a lot,” Brashear said of the two wins against Boston. “Every time we play a top team and beat them, it shows what we’re capable of. In the meantime there is a long way to go and many more teams to beat.”

After a scoreless first period, Marc Savard put the Bruins in front early in the second. With Boston on the power play, Savard sent a pass to Chuck Kobasew in the slot. Kobasew’s shot was deflected in front of Theodore, but he couldn’t get back in position to stop Savard’s slap shot after the puck drifted back to him.

It was the 16th goal of the season for Savard. With 54 points, Savard ranks behind only Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in scoring among Eastern Conference players.

The Caps didn’t wait long to respond, with Mike Green providing a power-play goal. Michael Nylander carried the puck along the boards into the left corner before sending a diagonal pass to the right faceoff circle, where Green was pinching in from the point.

All four Bruins defenders watched Nylander, and Green had plenty of room to outwait Thomas, snapping a shot over the netminder’s left shoulder after he dropped to the ice. It was Green’s 12th goal of the season, tops among Eastern Conference defensemen and behind only Nashville’s Shea Weber (who has 13) for the NHL lead.

“I looked up, and Mike was open perfectly on the far side,” Nylander said. “He is pretty good at finishing off shots like that. That was a good play.”

Added Boudreau: “I thought [Nylander] was good. I thought he made a great play to Mike Green. I thought he had a good game.”

Notes - Caps captain Chris Clark was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. The Caps were also missing center Boyd Gordon and defensemen Tom Poti and Shaone Morrisonn. …

Boston was without four top-nine forwards (Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm) and two defensemen (Aaron Ward and Andrew Ference).

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