Thrashers fall to Caps in OT

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Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen (32), of Finland, makes a save against Washington Capitals' Kris Beech (24) during the second period.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen (32), of Finland, makes a save against Washington Capitals' Kris Beech (24) during the second period.

WASHINGTON - Opponents already know about Alexander Semin's sneaky quick wrist shot and wicked slap shot. Turns out his backhander isn't too bad, either.

Semin scored his second goal of the game with 17.7 seconds remaining in overtime, lifting the Washington Capitals over the Atlanta Thrashers 3-2 on Saturday night.

Taking a spinning, blind feed from Steve Eminger, Semin skated down the slot and elevated a backhanded shot over goalie Kari Lehtonen's right shoulder, giving the Capitals their second straight victory with his 21st goal.

"I have a bunch of chances to score on wristers. ... When you're up close against the goalie, you can't do anything else but go to the backhand," Semin said through an interpreter.

Lehtonen said he was defenseless when Semin ditched his forehand on the fly.

"Semin was able to get it up," Lehtonen said. "That usually kills the goalie's chances. It was just a great move."

As pretty as the decisive goal was, the setup may have eclipsed it. With defenseman Niclas Havelid closing in on him at the edge of the right circle, Eminger made a perfectly placed no-look feed.

"The guy came at me and instinctively, I didn't think I could get it on my forehand," Eminger said. "Alex just made a great play. I saw him trailing."

Ilya Kovalchuk and Glen Metropolit scored for Atlanta, which has lost three straight and four of five. It was the Thrashers' second overtime loss in two nights.

"It just drains our energy. We were playing a pretty strong game," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We got in bad penalty trouble again. You just can't do it. We're fortunate. I'm not a big fan of that extra point, but right now we're getting two free points."

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist for Washington, halting his goal drought at a season-high five games.

The Thrashers wasted two early power-play opportunities, then needed only 13 seconds of their third advantage to take a 1-0 lead. Kovalchuk drove past Boyd Gordon inside the blue line and beat Olie Kolzig with a wrist shot for his 23rd goal 15:50 into the game.

Semin tied it 41 seconds into the second with the Capitals a man up, taking Ovechkin's pass, faking Havelid to his knees and flipping a backhanded shot by Lehtonen.

Metropolit restored Atlanta's lead at 16:23, converting a rebound. The Thrashers appeared poised to go ahead by two goals when J.P. Vigier was awarded a penalty shot after being wrestled down from behind by defenseman Jamie Heward on a breakaway.

Vigier collided with Kolzig near the left post, leaving the goalie shaken. He remained face down on the ice for two minutes before being helped to his feet. Kolzig stayed in the game to face Vigier's penalty shot attempt, and Vigier squeezed the puck between his pads only to have it carom off the right post.

"It's a tough call," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "I know (Kolzig) was hurt a bit, but to put a (backup) goalie in on a penalty shot? He willed himself through it."


Ovechkin's team-high 26th goal made it 2-2 with 7:42 left in regulation. With the Capitals enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage, Ovechkin pinched into the left circle and scored on a slap shot.

Notes: Atlanta scratched LW Slava Kozlov (upper body injury), ending his team-record streak of 142 consecutive games played. ... Kovalchuk has a point in all six games against Washington this season, totaling three goals and seven assists. ... Kolzig was honored in a pregame ceremony for winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, given annually for humanitarian contributions to the community, and for his efforts to raise awareness of autism. ... Two of Metropolit's eight goals have come against Washington, the team for which he played 101 games from 1999-2003.


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