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OVECHKIN, VARLAMOV SAVE WASHINGTON IN SHOOTOUT

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WASHINGTON - -Alex Ovechkin scored twice in regulation and notched the only goal in the shootout to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

After Ovechkin's pretty tally in the shootout, rookie goaltender Semyon Varlamov redeemed himself from a soft second-period goal by stopping all three Nashville attempts, including a brilliant pad save on Martin Erat's deke to clinch the Capitals' second straight win.

The game probably never should have come down to a shootout. The Predators, who have one of the lowest payrolls in the NHL, entered the night having been outscored 16-2 in their previous four games, all losses. Ovechkin came in with as many points, 14, as all of the Predators' forwards combined.

But after getting a pair of first-period goals from Ovechkin and taking a 2-0 lead deep into the second period, the Capitals let up and failed to close out a club they should have disposed of in regulation.

The Predators pounced late in the second, rallying on a blast by Shea Weber and a bad-bounce goal from J.P. Dumont in the span of 1:35 to send the game into the third tied, 2-2.

Weber fired a drop pass from Patric Hornqvist over Varlamov's glove, then a shift later, Dumont intercepted a clearing attempt by defenseman Jeff Schultz and let go a shot from an impossible angle along the boards that deflected in off of Brian Pothier's skate.

Varlamov (22 saves) made his first start in five games after a back-to-back shaky outings in his first two starts. Twice on the Capitals' first power play in the opening minutes of the game, Varlamov stopped shorthanded breakaways to keep things scoreless, turning away Joel Ward on a deke and Weber on a slap shot from the hash marks.

After Varlamov's early heroics, Eric Fehr drew his second penalty of the period, putting the Capitals on the power play. Fifteen seconds later, Ovechkin opened the scoring with his first power play goal of the season. Mike Green set up the strike with a pass from the point to Ovechkin, who one-timed the puck past Dan Ellis (33 saves) before the goalie could get across the crease.

Ovechkin pushed the lead to 2-0 with 1:15 remaining in the opening period after a fortuitous bounce off the side boards. Brendan Morrison lofted a long pass from the Capitals' zone that kicked off the boards at the Predators' blue line and right to a rushing Ovechkin, who blasted between defensemen Teemu Laakso and Kevin Klein and slipped the puck through Ellis's pads.

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