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Vancouver Canucks beat Washington Capitals, 3-2

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The Capitals' late collapse was quite a reversal from their strong start. They jumped out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Semin and Chris Clark in an eventful first period that included an own goal and Brooks Laich spending some time on the Canucks' bench.

After Backstrom missed an open net in the opening moments, Ryan Kesler struck on a breakaway for the Canucks at 6:39 with some help from Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz. After a turnover at Washington's blue line, Kesler was tripped by Green on the way to the net. From his knees, Kesler fired a shot that hit the butt end of José Theodore's stick before ricocheting back in front to Schultz, who inadvertently redirected into the net.

"It was an unlucky bounce," said Schultz, who was limping after the game because of a shot that hit his foot in the first period. "Maybe I was a little too anxious to see what was happening back there."

About two minutes later, Tanner Glass checked Laich over the boards and onto the home bench. Just as the crowd roared its approval, Semin snapped a wrist shot from the high slot past Loungo's glove to even the score at 1.

Clark put the Capitals ahead with 1:54 remaining in the opening session when he fired own rebound off a defenseman's skate past Luongo.

The Canucks mustered only six shots in a second period that was played at a significantly more sluggish pace than the first, but they still managed to tie it up.

The Capitals blew several chances to extend their lead with the man advantage (the unit went 0 for 2 in the period, failing to record a shot). Then with 2:21 remaining before the second intermission, Raymond finished a two-on-one by faking a crossing pass, which lured Theodore to the ice. Raymond's goal sent the game into the third tied, 2-2.

"That was a great hockey game," Boudreau said. "A lot of good things from both teams. Exciting. Good playoff atmosphere. But we obviously didn't like the outcome."

Capitals notes: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, participating in his first full speed practice since since suffering a groin muscle strain in Tampa on Dec. 7, was forced to back off when he felt a twinge. As a result the rookie goalie said he won't return against Edmonton but still considers Wednesday to be an option. . . .

Just because Michael Nylander's departure has cleared $4.875 million off the salary cap, a team source said the plan isn't to spend back up to the limit. Ownership is still on the hook for Nylander's $5.5 million salary and adding another big salary would only compound the team's losses for this season. But General Manager George McPhee still has the okay to add a rental player or two at the March 3 trade dealine, the source said. . . .

Quintin Laing (broken jaw) and Boyd Gordon (back spasms) are traveling with the team and eligible to return to the lineup, Boudreau said. But defenseman Brian Pothier (ribs) stayed behind and is still a week or two away from playing, according to the coach.


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