Capitals Break Free on Semin's Shot

Weary Team Gets 1st Shootout Win Of the Season: Capitals 2, Islanders 1

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 5, 2007; Page E04

Alex Ovechkin didn't score yesterday. In fact, the Washington Capitals all-star didn't register a point for the second consecutive contest, and misfired in the shootout.

But none of that mattered to him. All that did was the final score: Capitals 2, New York Islanders 1.

Alexander Semin
Alexander Semin puts the puck past the Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro to score the game-winning goal in the shootout. (Rich Lipski - The Washington Post)

"Finally," Ovechkin said, smiling.

It was unclear which streak Ovechkin was referring to, Washington's three consecutive losses or its five-game drought in shootouts this season. Either way, Alexander Semin and Olie Kolzig made sure that both became history.

Semin scored the only goal in the shootout and Kolzig made 31 saves in a contest that, at times, lacked energy and flow at Verizon Center. Each team was fatigued from playing the previous afternoon and there were five delays, totaling nearly 20 minutes, for repairs to the plexiglass surrounding the rink.

But, in the jubilant Capitals locker room afterward, no one was too concerned about style points, not after dropping eight of their previous 10 games and, for now, being out of the playoff picture.

"When it comes down to the end of the year, these extra points you get here from winning [in the shootout] could be vital," Kolzig said. "Hopefully, it's a sign of positive things for us."

Only 24 hours earlier, the Capitals emerged from Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh with their heads hanging after being shut out by the Penguins. Ovechkin was so frustrated he broke his stick, jammed it into a trash can and slammed the locker room door. The slump had begun to weigh on everyone.

And for a while yesterday, it appeared as though their misery might continue. Ovechkin was limited to one shot in regulation, the power play struggled again (it finished 0-4 for the second straight game), the Islanders scored short-handed and their goaltender, Rick DiPietro (30 saves), was dominant.

The Capitals fired 13 shots on DiPietro as they unsuccessfully pressed for the go-ahead goal in the third period. They also had several scoring chances in overtime, including a golden opportunity by Semin, who stole the puck from Islanders defenseman Sean Hill. But the Capitals winger lost control of the puck as he tried to wrap it around.

He got even in the shootout. Having missed his three previous career attempts, Semin backed DiPietro deep into the crease and flipped a backhander into the upper corner.

DiPietro stopped Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus, but it didn't matter because Kolzig was up to the task at the other end. The Capitals veteran thwarted Miroslav Satan and Jason Blake, and Viktor Kozlov fired wide of the net.


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