Ovechkin Bails Out Caps in OT

Capitals 5, Islanders 4

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; Page E01

UNIONDALE, N.Y., Dec. 16 -- The Washington Capitals were expected to win easily, and after dominating the first period and then taking a two-goal lead into the third period, it seemed they would.

But that's not exactly how things unfolded.

The Capitals needed an overtime goal by Alex Ovechkin -- his franchise record sixth career tally in extra time -- to escape Nassau Coliseum with a 5-4 victory over the reeling New York Islanders.

Ovechkin forced a turnover in the corner, took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom, circled in the slot while patiently picking out an opening, then snapped a wrist shot past Joey MacDonald with 10.7 seconds remaining to clinch the Capitals' fourth consecutive victory and help them avoid the embarrassment of collapsing against one of the NHL's worst teams.

"I'm happy to have the record," said Ovechkin, who scored twice in the game. "But we stopped playing after the second period. We didn't listen to our coach, what he said. We didn't move, we didn't skate. So it's [fortunate] we win the game."

The Capitals had a 4-2 lead and were out-shooting the Islanders 33-20 when the third period began. But instead of finishing off a team that has the third-lowest payroll in the NHL and has not won a game this month, the Capitals coasted. It proved to be an enormous miscalculation.

Islanders defenseman Andy Sutton scored his second goal of the season from the point with 8 minutes 41 seconds remaining, beating Brent Johnson after a deflection off a skate in front and trimming Washington's lead to 4-3.

Then Jon Sim redirected a shot by Mark Streit with 2:13 left to play to force overtime.

In the extra session, Johnson made a dazzling glove save on Trent Hunter. Then Ovechkin did what he has done more than any Capital in team history. He had been tied with Peter Bondra and Kelly Miller.

"That's what superheroes are all about," Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But Alex would be the first one to tell you that he wasn't very good tonight. But you put him out on the ice in those types of situations because you know he'll rise to the occasion."

Boudreau said he spared his players a tongue lashing in the locker room after the game. Even though, he said, they deserved one after a passionless performance in the third period.

"We let them back in the game when he had them on the hook at 2-0," Boudreau said. "It looked like we were taking everything for granted, that everything was going to turn out okay. We got lucky today."

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