OTTAWA – It wasn’t quite up to all-star game levels, but the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals did their best to take defence out of hockey Thursday night.
Jason Spezza had a goal and two assists for Ottawa an Alexander Semin had a hat trick for Washington and the Senators were able to outlast the Capitals 6-5 in an old-fashioned shootout at Scotiabank Place.
“They just try to outscore you and it doesn’t matter if it’s 7-6,” Spezza said of the Capitals. “We knew that even though we were up that we couldn’t sit back, and we did a good job. We kept coming at them and scoring goals and we scored more than them tonight.”
Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev had a goal and an assist each for the Senators (3-22-4) while Chris Phillips, Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Neil also scored. Brian Elliott made 19 saves.
Along with Semin’s three goals, Tomas Fleischmann and Jeff Schultz also scored for the Capitals (41-13-7), who got a 22-save performance from Semyon Varlamov in a losing cause while Alex Ovechkin collected a pair of assists, becoming the first player this season to reach 90 points.
The Senators won for the second straight time after having an 11-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in Toronto.
The Capitals had won 14 straight games and were gunning for the record of 17 consecutive victories set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins, but that run came to an end Wednesday in Montreal with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Canadiens. Thursday’s loss to the Senators puts the Capitals on a two-game slide.
“What you’re seeing now isn’t normal,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said of the 12 goals his team has allowed in the past two games.
“Their goalie wasn’t any good either, but they got more shots and they scored the extra goal.”
Ottrawa’s win, coupled with the Buffalo Sabres’ 4-3 overtime loss in Carolina, means the Senators take sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division. The Senators have 74 points compared to 73 for the Sabres, who have two games in hand. The Sabres have lost six straight and have just four wins in their past 15 games.
Entering the third period tied 4-4, Phillips scored at 2:33 to give the Senators the lead and Kovalev got the eventual game-winner with Ottawa’s second power-play goal of the night at 7:36.
Semin completed his hat trick at the 13:37 mark to pull Washington within one, but neither he nor his teammates were able to tie it up.
“He could have had four or five. If he had of hit the net on any more shots he would have scored. That’s the same on both teams. Ovie had one shot on goal because (Senators defenceman Anton) Volchenkov blocked 11,” Boudreau said.
Spezza was the story of the first period as he opened the scoring with a shot that beat Varlamov to the far post just past the six-minute mark. He then had a hand in on Michalek’s goal as he won the draw back to Michalek who beat Varlamov at 10:09.
After Fleischmann caught Elliott too far off his post on a long shot, Spezza picked up his third point of the period as Alfredsson restored the Senators’ two-goal lead with just seven seconds to play in the period.
Semin took over in the second with Washington’s third and fourth goals 42 seconds apart late in the period to give the Capitals a 4-3 lead.
Schultz scored earlier in the period for the Capitals and Neil tied the game for the Senators with under two minutes to play in the period.
“If you go down the chart on their team, they have lots of guys that can put the puck in the net,” Neil said of the Capitals. “It’s one guy after another so it’s not just No. 8 that you’ve got to shut down, there are four or five other guys as well.”
Notes: Senators forward Mike Fisher played in his 600th NHL game Tuesday night, all with the Senators. … Senators forward Nick Foligno missed his fifth straight game Tuesday with a broken leg while defenceman Erik Karlsson missed his third with a shoulder injury. … The Washington Capitals lead the NHL with 244 goals, which is 42 more than the San Jose Sharks who are second. … Alex Ovechkin is the only player in the NHL with at least 90 points each season since the lockout. … The Capitals recalled D Karl Alzner and F Chris Bourque from their AHL affiliate in Hershey Thursday.