- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

UNIONDALE, N.Y. | The New York Islanders might have the opportunity to add their own version of Alex Ovechkin in the forthcoming NHL draft, but for now their fans have to be content with watching the Washington Capitals‘ franchise player will his team to victory at Nassau Coliseum.

Ovechkin scored both goals for the Caps, including his second overtime winner this season here, and Washington survived a sluggish Monday afternoon - and a spirited effort by the home team - to prevail 2-1.

“They start really hard and play hard against us,” Ovechkin said. “I think it’s 2 [p.m.] game and we was kind of sleepy. We didn’t play our best game, but it is always fun when you win the game - especially in overtime.”

Added goalie Jose Theodore, who made 27 saves for his 200th NHL win: “I think sometimes you can look at what we did - I don’t think we played our best game, but you have to give them credit. Their last game against Boston, they outplayed them and outworked them, and they did the same thing tonight.”

Former Caps defenseman Brendan Witt set his old team up with a power play in overtime by slashing Ovechkin in the neutral zone. Twenty-one seconds later, Ovechkin slammed home a one-timer at 1:46 from Alexander Semin, who took a pass from Sergei Fedorov and waited until the last possible second to feed his good friend for his 31st marker of the season.

Ovechkin potted No. 30 just 24 seconds after Witt went to the penalty box for roughing Semin in the first period. Last season’s MVP blasted a shot by Islanders goaltender Yann Danis after a pass from defenseman Mike Green.

The Caps spent most of the third period short-handed thanks to four consecutive infractions. Still, Ovechkin had a prime opportunity to make it 2-0 a little more than five minutes in.

While short-handed, Ovechkin picked off Danis’ attempted outlet pass and had a clear look at an open net. But he flicked it off the side of the cage, and Danis dived back to fall on it.

“I have so much time,” Ovechkin said. “I watched the replay, and I have so much time. I think it was stupid moment for me. I have to wait a little bit.”

Kyle Okposo tied the score on a five-on-three goal with 7:42 remaining. It took the Islanders nearly 50 seconds to put a shot on net with Nicklas Backstrom (tripping) and Ovechkin (puck over the glass) in the penalty box, but Okposo - stationed at the left post - banged home a one-timer from Frans Nielsen.

The loss makes the Islanders 0-for-8 in 2009, and the team remains eight points ahead of Ottawa and Atlanta for the worst record in the NHL. Should the Islanders end up with the No. 1 pick in June, the reward could be John Tavares, the most hyped amateur prospect since Sidney Crosby, but for now a miserable campaign continues.

“Every time I see a team that should toss it in, I [worry],” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I looked and said, ‘OK, [Trent] Hunter is out now and [Chris] Campoli is out,’ but I’ve been in that situation so many times. Fear of losing is the best motivator, and you play so focused as a team and they did.”

With the win and a shootout loss by the Boston Bruins, the Caps inched closer to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington has 63 points - eight behind the Bruins. The Caps are three points up on the Canadiens for second in the East.

Ovechkin passed Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter for the NHL lead in goals. He led the league last season with 65 - the most since Mario Lemieux’s 69 in 1995-96 - but had yet to be alone atop the list this season.

“It happens,” Ovechkin said. “I give a little bit of a chance to different guys.”

Notes - The Caps recalled goaltender Daren Machesney from Hershey of the American Hockey League. Machesney was recalled to back up Theodore because Brent Johnson was unavailable (lower body injury). Simeon Varlamov may have been the player added to the roster, but he is out with an undisclosed injury. …

Captain Chris Clark returned to the lineup after sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch. …

Boyd Gordon returned after missing the past five contests with back spasms.

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