Capitals beat Senators, 5-2
JOSEPH WHITE | 1/8/2010, 11:46 p.m.
Alex Ovechkin's first goal as captain capped another big-scoring night for the Washington Capitals.
Nicklas Backstrom scored twice in the third period, and Ovechkin added a goal in the final 2 minutes as the Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Thursday night, Jan, 7.
Ovechkin nearly made it three games in a row without a goal, which would have matched his longest drought of the season, but the Capitals are 2-0 with the "C" on the jersey of the two-time NHL MVP, and they remain comfortably atop the Southeast Division.Ovechkin also assisted on both of Backstrom's goals. Backstrom's second was a nifty wraparound, his 17th goal of the season. Ovechkin has 27 goals.
Boyd Gordon and Mike Knuble had goals for the Capitals in the first period. Chris Phillips scored for the Senators in the second, and Jonathan Cheechoo added one late in the third for Ottawa.
Jose Theodore made 26 saves to get his first win since Dec. 15. The veteran, pushed this season for playing time by youngsters Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov, had played in only one of seven previous games. Neuvirth has handled most of the starts recently while Varlamov recovers from groin and knee injuries.
The Capitals improved to 14-3-3 at home, while the Senators remain ineffective on the road. Ottawa has lost 12 of 18 away games this season, including 11 of 14.
Gordon started the scoring by putting in a rebound while falling forward onto the ice for his first goal since New Year's Day 2009. Knuble's wrister made it 2-0, and the Capitals squandered several chances to pad the lead in the second period. Ovechkin had a near breakaway go awry when he lost his footing, and his helmet came off during a mad scramble that left a pile of bodies in the crease during a power play.
Phillips got credit for a goal that deflected off Washington defenseman Mike Green's skate to pull Ottawa within one, but Backstrom made it 3-1 just 26 seconds into the third period with a shot from near the goal line that banked in off spinning goalie Pascal Leclaire.
Backstrom used his speed to beat Leclaire on a wraparound with 9:15 left.
NOTES: Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said it might be a week before Varlamov can play again. Varlamov was on his way back from a groin injury when he sprained a ligament in his right knee during a rehab start Sunday for the AHL affiliate Hershey. ... Washington D Brian Pothier returned after missing a month with a cracked rib.