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Posted at 11:46 PM ET, 03/03/2011

Jason Arnott's first goal with Capitals clinches a 3-2 victory over Blues

There were numerous reasons why the Capitals' 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night was important: Washington moved to within one point of Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay and just six from Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference; they won consecutive home games for the first time since late November and clinched a third straight victory for their longest winning streak in 2011; and Michal Neuvirth earned his 21st victory to set a new franchise record for wins by a rookie goaltender, to name a few.

But it was also a game in which all four of the Capitals' lines, which have been so famously tinkered with by Coach Bruce Boudreau throughout the year, showed signs of jelling and dominating play.

Those lines: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble; Laich-Arnott-Semin; Chimera-Johansson-Sturm; and Hendricks-Gordon-Bradley.

"I didn't have to move them," Boudreau said. "I especially liked Arnott, Semin and Laich. I think they like playing with each other and hopefully -- Who am I kidding? I'm going to change it at one point. Hopefully for a while I can keep them together."

Yes, that brought laughter out of nearly everyone in Boudreau's postgame news conference.

On the serious side, though, veteran center Jason Arnott appears to be fitting well with second-line staples Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin -- through two games, anyway.

Boudreau pointed out Arnott's instinct to swing out a little wide of the Blues' cage when on the two-on-one with Semin in order to set himself up for an easy one-timer that proved to be the game-winner as something that the Capitals have missed this season. He also not surprised that the 36-year-old is acclimating quickly.

"He's been around this league for a long time," Boudreau said. "I think he's being used in a different situation than he was for most of the year. I think he's excited about playing."

Arnott said after his first game with Washington -- on Tuesday against the Islanders -- that he believed communication was key to adjusting to his new linemates, particularly Semin, and he's not shy about making sure they're on the same page.

""We're creating a little chemistry, getting to know each other," Arnott said of his line. "We were talking a lot on the bench and even with Sash, we're talking to him and he's talking to us. It's important to communicate to find out how guys are and little plays around the rink. If we keep that up hopefully our chemistry will keep going."

As for the other combinations, the familiar group of Alex Ovechkin with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble combined for Washington's second goal on a play where none of them seemed content to give up on the puck. Ovechkin and Knuble chipped it forward until Backstrom had a chance to swat the puck out of mid-air.

The 'Wheels' line, as Mike Vogel called it, of Jason Chimera, Marcus Johansson and Marco Sturm had a handful of great chances thanks to their speed. Then there's the grinding line of Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley -- regardless of who has been on the fourth line this year it's been rather consistent in its ability to set up down low and work away against opponents.

By  |  11:46 PM ET, 03/03/2011

Categories:  Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, Jason Arnott

 
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