Semin Picks Up Slack for Capitals in Shootout Win

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For the past two seasons, he's been the Washington Capitals' other Alex. But last night, with Alex Ovechkin out of the lineup against the Nashville Predators, Alexander Semin had the spotlight all to himself.

And the slick-stickhandling winger made the most of it.

Semin dazzled the Verizon Center crowd of 17,011 in regulation with a pretty goal and an even prettier primary assist. Then he wowed them in the shootout, netting a beautiful backhander to help the Capitals clinch a 4-3 victory, their second in a row.

"He's been really good all year, and it's great to see," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Semin, who has eight goals and eight assists in nine games. "I really believe he is coming of age now."

Semin said he received an inspirational text message after warmups from Ovechkin, who returned to Russia yesterday to visit his ailing grandfather. Ovechkin missed the second game of his career -- and first since the 2005-06 season -- and saw his consecutive-games streak snapped at 203.

"He asked me to say hi to all of the guys," Semin said through an interpreter. "And that he is with us."

In the shootout, Michael Nylander netted the decisive goal, then José Theodore (23 saves) turned aside Martin Erat to end the game.

The night, however, belonged to Semin, who also took a team-high five shots on goal and took the league lead in points with 16.

"He is a really quiet guy," Boudreau said of Semin. "But on the ice, he's coming out of his shell and leading this team right now."

He might have to keep doing it. Ovechkin's return remains uncertain, though the Capitals do not play again until Saturday in Buffalo.

"Short periods of time, guys are really going to dig deep and play hard," Boudreau said. "But can they sustain it without Alex?"

The thought coming into the game was that without Ovechkin, the Predators would be able to key on Semin and shut him down.

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