Capitals Erase Four-Goal Deficit, Top Rangers in OT on Morrisonn's Goal

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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NEW YORK, Dec. 23 -- Shaone Morrisonn is the very definition of a stay-at-home defenseman. But on Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals veteran showed that when the moment demands it, he's capable of contributing at the other end, too.

And what a contribution it was.

Morrisonn scored the Capitals' fifth straight goal, firing a rolling puck past Henrik Lundqvist 59 seconds into overtime to cap an improbable 5-4 victory before a stunned and disgusted sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.

"That was the hardest shot I've ever seen him take," Coach Bruce Boudreau joked of Morrisonn's first goal since February 26, which snapped the Capitals' seven-game losing streak here, dating from 2004.

Morrisonn sported the red hard hat that's awarded to the team's best player after victories, but several others also deserved it, including Alex Ovechkin (two goals), Nicklas Backstrom (three assists) and José Theodore. Yes, José Theodore.

Boudreau pulled Theodore after the struggling goaltender yielded three goals on the first five shots he faced and replaced him with Brent Johnson. But because Johnson is sick and hurt, Boudreau was forced to reinsert Theodore at the start of the second period -- and the Capitals' comeback commenced shortly thereafter.

Ovechkin got the rally going late in the second when he zipped a pass in the general direction of the Rangers' net. Although the puck was headed wide, it hit Rangers defenseman Michal Roszival's stick and went over an unsuspecting Lundqvist (31 saves).

Then early in the third period, Tomas Fleischmann redirected a shot by Backstrom, who was wearing the alternate captain's 'A' on his jersey for the first time, on the power play to pull the visitors to 4-2.

Less than a minute after Fleischmann's goal, Theodore made the save of the game, turning away Nikolai Zherdev with a shoulder save. A goal in that situation might have sealed the Capitals' fate.

"When he came in and he stopped Zherdev, you need defining moments, you need saves at the right time," Boudreau said of Theodore, who redeemed himself by stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced in the second and third periods. "And that was a save at the right time. The guys knew on the bench that we had the opportunity to come back after he made that save."

They kept applying the pressure, the Rangers began to sit back, and with the help of another power play and a nifty pass from Backstrom, the Capitals cut the deficit to 4-3. Backstrom threaded a pass between two Rangers defensemen on the rush to a cutting Viktor Kozlov, who ripped a shot past Lundqvist's glove.

Then Ovechkin did what MVPs do: He brought his team all the way back. He picked off an errant pass by Nigel Dawes, raced into the Rangers' zone alone and deked Lundqvist, tying the score at 4 with 7 minutes 22 seconds left to play.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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