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Ovechkin, Halpern help Caps to rare back-to-back wins

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin felt confident about scoring 20 goals during his first three months in the NHL.

"For sure," said Ovechkin, who capitalized on Jeff Halpern's
third assist of the third period for an insurance goal in the Capitals' 4-2 victory Friday night over the Montreal Canadiens. "I had lots of chances this game to score my 20th goal. I could have shot better and I would have scored 22 goals."

Ovechkin's goal from an improbable angle along the end line capped a four-goal third period by the Capitals, who won back-to-back games for only the second time this season.

"I shot an incredible shot," Ovechkin said. "Lucky, more luck."

Halpern had a bird's-eye view of the dazzling shot.

"I don't think it's a lucky bounce, but it's an off-angle shot," he said. "Part of what we're doing is trying to get pucks to the net and outwork teams along the boards, so it is something we'd like to build on."

While the Capitals' future rests squarely on the shoulders of Ovechkin, Washington turned to 14-year veteran goaltender Olaf Kolzig, who made 41 saves, to win this one.

"We believe he's the best goalie in the league," Matt Pettinger said. "Every night he's in net, he gives us a chance to win and that's what he gave us tonight."

"Olie is incredible," Ovechkin added.

Ovechkin, who leads all rookies in goals and scoring with 39 points, tallied his 20th goal of the season with 6:15 remaining.

Pettinger gave Washington a 3-2 lead at 12:21 of the third off assists from Chris Clark and Halpern.

Montreal's Steve Begin had tied it at 2 at 6:16 of the third period.

Dainius Zubrus gave Washington a 2-1 lead at 4:24 of the third period off an assist from Brooks Laich. Zubrus took the puck in the corner, charged the net and stuffed a shot past Canadiens
goaltender Cristobal Huet for his sixth goal of the season.

Five seconds after Montreal's Alexander Perezhogin drew a holding penalty, Washington's Mathieu Biron tied it at 1 with a power-play goal at 2:11 of the third period.

"I made a joke before the game that Mathieu Biron turned our power play around a little bit yesterday and he's shooting the puck hard," Kolzig said. "He got a big goal for us tonight and he's doing some really good things out there for us."

"It was a good shot and they got some life," Montreal defenseman Mathieu Dandenault said. "The seemed to throw everything on net."

Former Capital Richard Zednik gave Montreal a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal on a wrist shot from the right circle at 4:39 of the first period. Zednik, who played six seasons for the Capitals from 1995 to 2001, has three goals and six points in 14 career games against his former team.

Kolzig had a couple dazzling stops in the second period, including the denial of Dandenault on a breakaway.

"Olie made a huge save in the second period on the breakaway to keep it a one-goal game and some saves later on," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "Great comeback. It was huge. Everybody played a huge part in this win."

"We played very well in the second period," Ovechkin added. "We had lots of chances and we got great play from Olie. In the third period we started to play hard and shoot all the time. That's the reason we scored all those goals."

Game notes
Ovechkin has 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in his last 20 games. He has also connected on an NHL-best five of six shootout attempts. ... Zednik has three goals and four points in his last five games. ... Kolzig is 14-9-3 with two shutouts against the Canadiens.