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Playoff Hockey Wins Two Games in Florida

By Rodger M. WoodBraden HoltbyDisplaying a patient, dump the puck, four – line balanced attack and good defensive playoff hockey on the road the past two nights, the Caps beat Florida 3-2 and Tampa Bay 2-1 to take sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division.When the Caps found themselves down a goal early in the first period at Florida, assisted by line mates Alex O and Mike Knuble, Niklaus Backstrom tied the score on a mighty slap shot at 17:16 mark of the first period.Midway through the second period, on a sweet backhanded shot from in front of the net, Boyd Gordon beat Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen to put the Caps ahead 2-1.The Caps kept the lead until Panthers forward, David Booth, on a 5 on 3 advantage at 17:24 of the third period, scored the 2-2 equalizer.Alexander SeminPlaying like a man possessed, Alexander Semin, assisted by Karl Alzner and Marcus Johanssen, slapped the game winner in at only 43 seconds into overtime.Off a faceoff, Sean Bergenheim put the Lightning ahead 1-0 at the 12:30 mark of the first period at Tampa.The game stayed 1-0 until again Semin, assisted by Ovie and defenseman Dennis Widemann, tied the game at 14:28 mark of the third period.Regulation and overtime ended in a 1-1 tie and it took Alex O’s dramatics to win the overtime shoot out, when he put the sole goal past Lightning net minder Duane Roloson, who had shutout the Caps in two previous outing this season.Replacing Michal Nevirth at the start of the second period, #1 star of the game, Caps backup goaltender Braden Holtby sensationally stopped all 21 Stamkos, Lecavalier, St. Louis, and other Lightning sharpshooters shots in two periods of regulation, overtime, and the shootout.Without a doubt, the 21-year old goaltender played like a #1 NHL goalie, if Varlamov or Neuvirth were out of the lineup for any time.Plus the youngster looked like a pro and was more articulate than most athletes and politicians I’ve seen in the Versus interview after the game.Versus Ed Olyck commented last night, it was the best he has ever seen Caps forward Alexander Semin play. The Caps forward proved his worth, scoring his winning 23rd goal of the season in overtime at Florida, and 24th tying goal in the third period of the Tampa game.Hit in the face-mask by the slap shot, Neuvirth and injuring a finger, Backstrom both left the Tampa game, but Coach Boudreau announced after the game, both players were held out only for precaution and are all right.Forward Eric Fehr’s shoulder is healthy again and is ready for duty.The Caps return home to the Verizon Center Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers.

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