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Gonchar's goal completes Senators' rally over Capitals

The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- It took the Ottawa Senators less than 20 minutes to undo all they had done wrong previously Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals.

From a momentum-generating goal scored by their fourth line at 18:37 of the second period, to the game-winning power-play shot off the stick of veteran Sergei Gonchar at 17:30 of the third, they also changed the way they were trending in the results columns.

Gonchar's first goal of the season with Washington's Joel Ward in the box capped a three-goal rally to give the Senators a 3-2 victory over the Capitals at a sold-out Scotiabank Place. It was the first win in three games for Ottawa (4-1-1).

The Capitals (1-4-1) thought their fortunes were on the upswing after Sunday's win over Buffalo.

"It's a hard loss," said Washington captain Alex Ovechkin. "Lucky bounce, (we) make mistakes after faceoff, a penalty ... before that (Gonchar) goal I had a pretty good chance to score. I didn't score.

"I don't think we played bad at all. We had opportunities to win it. After the second period we just had to play the same way we did the first two."

Most of the first two periods, at least.

Riding opening period goals by Troy Brower and Matt Hendricks, the Capitals were headed for the winner's circle when second-year Senator Jim O'Brien beat Michael Neuvirth less than a minute and a half from the intermission.

It was the second goal of the season and fifth in 40 NHL games for the former first round pick, who was celebrating his 24th birthday.

The dent made by O'Brien also snapped the Senators to life.

"In the second and third period, we started executing, as opposed to just throwing the puck away and playing a bit of bouncy ball out there," said Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, who allowed more than one goal for the first time in five starts this season. "Any time you get a goal late in the period, it carries into the room a good feeling that there's an opportunity. If we come in here down 2-0, it may be a different story. Guys came in here and you just knew in the room we had some confidence going forward."

The Senators tied the game in unique style, capitalizing directly off a faceoff loss by center Kyle Turris. With the draw to the left of Neuvirth, Nicklas Backstrom pulled the puck back cleanly between his own legs, but Senators left winger Milan Michalek reached it before a Capital could.

Michalek's low blind backhand slipped just inside the far post.

"Our whole (second) intermission was spent trying to find solutions and give our players information as to what they were doing and how they could do things better," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "I thought our competition level could have been a bit better. Getting (mad) doesn't do anybody any good. Finding solutions is more effective."

After the Senators killed off a penalty to Erik Condra, they were presented their second man-advantage opportunity in the final period.

Erik Karlsson, who turned in a spectacular defensive performance, slid a pass over to Gonchar, who had two large teammates in Chris Neil and Guillaume Latendresse waiting near the front of the net.

"I was trying to get it as hard as I can to the net," Gonchar said. "I was looking at the guy in front of me, trying to make sure it goes by him."

It did, but not after nicking him.

"I take the blame on that last goal," said Hendricks. "It hit my shin pad and redirects into the net. My job in that situation is to block that shot, not let it get through me. It's a bad bounce but it's part of hockey."

The Caps had a chance to send the game into overtime when Mike Ribeiro with less than 40 seconds left. But Anderson, who wound up making 31 saves while improving his record to 4-0-1, was there for the challenge.

NOTES: The Senators will have no time to savor the victory, as they host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. ... The Capitals play Thursday in Toronto, where they will be joined by injured center Brooks Laich. ... Opposing each other for the first time as head coaches, Adam Oates and Paul MacLean go way back. On June 15, 1989, they were traded together by the Detroit Red Wings to the St. Louis Blues for Bernie Federko and Tony McKegney. And during the 2002-03 season, Oates played for an Anaheim Mighty Ducks team on which MacLean was an assistant coach. ... Senators top center Jason Spezza missed the game with an "upper body" injury ... The Senators are 34-33-5-4 all-time against Washington.

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