Ovechkin stars in Capitals win over Lightning

WASHINGTON (AP) -- First, Alexander Ovechkin rescued the
Washington Capitals from a seemingly inevitable loss with a
marvelous goal late in regulation.

Then, during the shootout, the rookie made sure his heroic
performance wouldn't go for naught.

Ovechkin forced overtime by scoring with 1:15 left, then got the
only goal in a shootout to rally the Capitals past the Tampa Bay
Lightning 4-3 Tuesday night.

The Capitals trailed by two goals with 11 minutes left and 3-2
late in regulation until Ovechkin took a lead pass from Jeff
Halpern and skated into the Tampa Bay zone against two defensemen.
He cut to his left and, despite being pressured by Cory Sarich,
pushed a backhander past Sean Burke to tie it.

Besides beating both defenders, Ovechkin had to contend with the
sloppy ice as he headed toward the net.

"I was lucky," he said. "The [ice] was no good and I just
shot it and I score."

The goal ruined an otherwise fine effort by the 38-year-old
Burke, who finished with 37 saves in a rare start.

"[Ovechkin] lost the puck for a split second. I committed a
touch too soon and I tried to recover, but he shot it," Burke
said. "I maybe wasn't as patient as I'd like to be on that play,
but I didn't think he was going to be able to recover and come back
and shoot."

Add Burke to the rapidly expanding list of players to come away
amazed by the play of the talented Russian.

"There's not a lot of players in the league that will challenge
guys 1-on-2 and make a play like that," he said. "He has no fear.
He goes at everybody and challenges them."

Washington goaltender Brent Johnson, playing in place of injured
Olaf Kolzig, had 32 saves and was perfect in the shootout.

After Johnson began the shootout by stopping Vincent Lecavalier
with a kick save, Ovechkin scored on a rising wrist shot.

"When I sit on the bench, I know what I must do," said
Ovechkin, who is an NHL-best 3-for-3 in shootouts.

Vaclav Prospal then had his shot blocked by Johnson's left leg,
and Brian Willsie misfired for the Capitals before Johnson clinched
the victory -- and his first win of the season -- by poking away the
puck from Pavel Kubina on Tampa Bay's final attempt.

It was the second time this season the Capitals and Lightning
played to a shootout. Washington won the first one, 3-2.

Ovechkin, who was held scoreless until his late surge, now has
14 goals and 19 points in 18 games.

Ben Clymer and Bryan Muir also scored for the Capitals, who
ended a three-game skid. All seven of Washington's wins this season
have been by one goal.

Fredrik Modin had two goals for the Lightning, Rusian Fedotenko
got his fourth of the season and Prospal had an assist to extend
his point-scoring streak to 11 games. The Lightning have lost five
straight on the road and seven of eight overall.

They're also 0-3 in shootouts.

"I don't like shootouts," coach John Tortorella said, "but
it's a very important part of the game right now. We've got some
quality people, but we've done absolutely nothing in the

Tampa Bay scored twice in a 1:36 span to take a 2-0 lead in the
second period. After Modin deflected a shot by Kubina past
Johnson's left shoulder, Prospal charged the net under pressure and
got the puck to Fedotenko, who flipped a backhander into the net.

Burke stopped the first 17 shots he faced until Clymer slammed
in the rebound of a try by Halpern with 1:51 left in the period.

Modin's second goal, his ninth of the season, made it 3-1 with
13:31 left in regulation. The goal came on the rebound of a shot by
Brad Richards, who earned his 15th assist.

Muir began Washington's comeback with a power-play goal to make
it 3-2 with 10:51 to go.

Game notes
The Lightning dropped to 1-1 without star winger Martin St.
Louis, who's out two to four weeks with a fractured finger. ...
Kolzig could return Thursday vs Buffalo. The Capitals also
scratched RW Dainus Zubrus (groin).