Capitals score four times in third period to beat Edmonton Oilers, 4-2

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 20, 2009

EDMONTON, ALBERTA -- After watching the Edmonton Oilers hold his team scoreless through two periods, Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau resorted to his last option: He closed the door to the visitors' dressing room at Rexall Place and blasted his best players.

Alex Ovechkin took his coach's words to heart, then went out and scored twice in the first 6 minutes 37 seconds of the third period, sparking a 4-2 victory that ended the Capitals' 13-year drought in this building.

"I don't like yelling at [Ovechkin], but sometimes you see guys who look tired and down and they need a little boost," Boudreau said. "I tried to give it to him and challenged him. I started him right off the bat. Instead of saying, 'Woe is me, why is the coach yelling at me?' he took up the challenge and said, 'I'll show you,' and went out there and got three points in the third and led us to a victory."

Tomas Fleischmann netted the winner with 6:47 to play, and Nicklas Backstrom clinched it late with his fourth goal in four games.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth, meantime, rebounded from a yielding a fluky goal late in the second period to pick up his first win of the season with a steady 26-save effort. It was the 21-year-old's first start since struggling in Toronto a week earlier.

"I thought he did a great job of rebound control and smothering pucks," Boudreau said. "He did a great job, and it's great for his confidence. Practicing three days with us this week with NHL shooters instead of American league shooters was a real big help for him."

The victory was Washington's first in Edmonton since 1996, a span of eight games. In the previous seven contests, they had been outscored, 35-11. The win also made these Capitals the fastest in team history to reach 50 points.

And the best player in the league was the biggest reason they managed to rally after falling into a 2-0 hole.

With hundreds of fans wearing his red No. 8 jersey and rooting him on, Ovechkin was dominant from the opening faceoff in the third period.

Just 32 seconds in, Ovechkin scored his first goal in three games to cut the Capitals' deficit to 2-1. Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers (38 saves) stopped Ovechkin's wraparound attempt, but Ovechkin stayed with it and stuffed the rebound underneath the goalie's pads.

"We felt that if we could score one, right now they are a fragile team," Boudreau said. "They might go into a shell and retreat."

Boudreau was right. About six minutes later, Ovechkin tied the game by again putting in his own rebound. The two-time MVP gathered the puck in the neutral zone, streaked into Oilers' zone with speed and unloaded a blast that Deslauriers kicked out with his pad, but the rebound came right back to Ovechkin, who buried it to the short side.

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