- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

Two days after taking too many penalties burned the Washington Capitals, not converting the ones they drew ended up being their downfall.

The generous New York Rangers offered up nine power-play opportunities and a fluky goal on a dump-in, but the Caps could not take advantage in a 4-3 loss Thursday night at a surprisingly less-than-full Verizon Center.

Nicklas Backstrom forged a one-goal lead in the final period for the Caps with a pair of tallies, but Rangers star Marian Gaborik answered with two of his own. Washington goaltender Jose Theodore was great early but ended up yielding some goals he’d like to have back as the Caps lost for the first time in regulation this season and for the second time in as many games.

After a lackluster second period, Backstrom got a big assist from Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist to tie the contest at 2-2 early in the third. Backstrom dumped the puck toward the net from one step in front of the center red line, but Lundqvist was unable to stop the bouncing puck at 3:17.

Backstrom gave the Caps a brief lead at 7:51 with a power-play goal. He ripped a one-time pass from Brooks Laich into the top right corner of the net for Washington’s first extra-man goal of the evening in eight chances.

Gaborik responded for the Rangers 18 seconds later with a shot from the top of the circles that squeezed through Caps goaltender Jose Theodore. Less than three minutes later, Gaborik rifled one past Theodore from almost the same spot to put New York back in front.

The Rangers had secured the lead heading into the final period with a pair of second-period tallies. Ryan Callahan leveled the score at one 8:47 into the middle period with a backhander on a breakaway.

Washington had a four-on-three and went with four forwards (Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Backstrom and Brendan Morrison), but the Rangers had a two-on-one and Callahan’s breakaway in a matter of seconds. Semin’s cross-ice pass missed Ovechkin near the offensive blue line to help spring Callahan.

Ales Kotalik made it 2-1 a little more than two minutes later. Artem Anisimov hit Kotalik cutting toward the net, and he was able to backhand a shot in tight quarters off goalie Jose Theodore and into the net. Mike Green had tried to step up and erase Anisimov, but he failed to do so and Shaone Morrisonn was unable to recover after getting tangled up along the right wall.

Alexander Semin put the Caps in front with the lone goal of the first period. Semin stripped Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival of the puck in the neutral zone and then gave it to Brian Pothier near the top of the offensive zone.

Pothier skated backward with the puck to the outside of the left faceoff circle before sending a cross-ice pass back to Semin, who sneaked toward the right post and put home the one-timer at 9:18.

It was Semin’s fifth goal of the season, which tied him with Alex Ovechkin for the team lead.

Notes — Defenseman Milan Jurcina was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.


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