Semin, Vokoun lead Caps past Rangers

The red-hot New York Rangers came into Verizon Center riding a five-game win streak on Wednesday night, but they left the building with a losing streak after being handled by Alex Semin and the Caps 4-1. 

Semin scored twice and Troy Brouwer netted the game-winner in the second period to lead the Washington Capitals over the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers. Marcus Johansson also scored for Washington, starting the scoring in the first period. 

Following Johansson's opening goal, Brandon Dubinsky tied the game at 1-1 for the visiting Rangers at the 17:16 mark of the first period when he ripped a wrist shot past the glove side of Vokoun during a two-on-one. 

But it was all Capitals after that, as Washington got a lead tally from Brouwer at the 10:24 mark of the second period, quickly followed by Semin's first goal to put the Caps up 3-1 after two. 

New York appeared to cut the Washington lead to one on a powerplay goal from captain Ryan Callahan, but video replay showed that Callahan kicked the puck into the net, resulting in a no-goal. A couple minutes later at the 17-minute mark, Alex Semin took a cross-ice feed from Ovechkin and blasted a slap shot over the glove hand of Biron to seal the game at 4-1. 

Tomas Vokoun was solid in net for the Caps, stopping 31 of 32 shots in his first start since being pulled back on Dec. 13 against the Flyers. He improved to 13-8-0 on the season with a .911 SV% and a 2.67 GAA. 

Martin Biron started in net for the Rangers, he was 7-1-0 going into the game, but fell behind for good on back-to-back Caps goals from Brouwer and Semin in the second period. He stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced. 

The Rangers were 0-5 on the powerplay and saw winger Marian Gaborik's five-game goal scoring streak end, he had seven goals in that span. 

While the Caps continue to wait for All-Star defenseman Mike Green to return to the lineup, the team's other big stars like Alex Ovechkin and Semin have underperformed so far this season. 

But Wednesday was an exception as Semin scored twice, and Ovechkin recieved helpers on both tallies. It was Ovechkin's first mulit-point outing in his past 23 games. Semin has just nine goals this season, just two years removed from a 40-goal campaign. 

Both Alex's have come under fire for not performing up to expectations this season, much of the reason the Caps find themselves on the outside looking in of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

But both have began to turn things around of late, as Ovechkin has notched points in four of his last five games (2G, 3A) while Semin has six points in the same span (4G, 2A). 

The improved play of both Alex's has helped push the Caps' record under coach Dale Hunter to 6-6-1 since he took over for Bruce Boudreau. 

With both Alex's going along with Nicklas Backstrom, who also registered an assist, and the looming return of Green, the Caps could make a break up through the standings. 

The Caps currently sit in 11th place in the East with 38 points, but are just one point out of the eighth spot and have played just 35 games. 

They'll try and keep the momentum going this weekend with back-to-back games against Buffalo at home on Friday and at struggling Columbus on Saturday. 

 

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