Alexander Semin Scores Two Late Goals to Lead Washington Capitals to Win Over Carolina Hurricanes

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008

With his team struggling to score goals, Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau put Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin -- his three best offensive players -- on the same line against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The only question now is what took so long.

Fedorov scored the Capitals' first goal, Semin tallied twice in the final 2 minutes 43 seconds, including the winner with 11 seconds remaining, and Ovechkin amassed three primary assists to help the Capitals stun the Hurricanes, 3-2, at Verizon Center.

The win snapped Washington's two-game losing streak, but more importantly, it cut Carolina's lead in the Southeast Division to two points.

"It's great to come back after you're losing," said Ovechkin, who notched his first three-point game of the season but also saw his goal drought grow to eight games, the longest of his career. "It shows that we have great character here. It was an important game for us."

Although the Capitals emerged with a morale-building win, they didn't emerge unscathed. Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn left the game with a groin muscle strain in the first period while the immediate health of the all-Russian line also is in some doubt. Fedorov departed early in the third with an undisclosed lower body injury.

"When you lose a couple of guys in the course of the game and you're playing five deep [on defense] for the final 50 minutes of the game, and you lose your number one centerman, a power-play guy, it makes you scramble a bit. But the rest of the guys picked it up."

Semin tied the game at 17:17 with a beautiful goal. The winger gathered the puck behind the net, skated it out front and fired a sneaky shot off Cam Ward's stick and into the net to tie the game at 2.

Then he won it in the waning seconds with another pretty score. Semin snagged a crossing pass from Ovechkin, then fired the puck past Ward's glove hand, setting off a celebration on the ice, the home bench and among the 17,874 in attendance.

Semin wasn't the only player to stand out for the Capitals, who rebounded from allowing a goal on the opponent's first shot of the game for the fourth time this season. Backup goaltender Brent Johnson was solid for the second straight game, making 32 saves, and Boudreau singled out struggling second-year center Nicklas Backstrom, saying he played his best game of the season. Backstrom was on the ice in place of Fedorov for both of Semin's late goals.

"He handled the puck like he could," Boudreau said. "He made plays. He could have easily had three or four assists if the people he gave the puck to would shoot."

With the Capitals in the midst of the worst offensive slump of his tenure -- they had scored one goal or less in four of the previous six games -- Boudreau shook things up last night.

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