WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Kovalev scored a power-play goal with 18 seconds remaining in overtime — his first point since the Olympic break — and the Ottawa Senators beat the Washington Capitals 5-4 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive win.
Kovalev picked up his 18th goal of the season after Nicklas Backstrom was whistled for a tripping penalty with 33 seconds left in the extra period, handing the NHL standings leaders their third straight loss. Kovalev was shut out in his first 12 games after the Vancouver Olympics.
Jason Spezza had two goals and two assists, and Peter Regin and Chris Campoli also scored for the Senators. Daniel Alfredsson added two assists, and Brian Elliott made 17 saves while allowing as many goals as he did in his last four games, when he went 4-0 with a pair of shutouts.
Alexander Semin scored his 36th and 37th goals, and Mike Green and Mathieu Perreault also scored for the Capitals. Alex Ovechkin had an assist for his 101st point of the season. Jose Theodore, who was pulled in the first period of a 5-3 loss to Calgary on Sunday, made 26 saves.
The Capitals already have clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Senators are all but pigeonholed into the No. 5 slot, so both teams are focused on fine-tuning for the postseason. Washington coach Bruce Boudreau shuffled his lines, but his team fell into an early hole for the second straight game.
The Capitals have talked about finishing the regular season strong, feeling their tepid performances heading into the playoffs a year ago contributed to their sluggish start in the postseason.
The talk hasn't been fully converted to action. They were booed by the home crowd when they trailed Calgary 4-0 after the first period Sunday, and were down 3-1 to the Senators after the first 20 minutes.
Ottawa took the lead less than 90 seconds into the game when Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn's no-look attempt to clear the puck went straight to Regin, who converted a backhander.
Semin tied it with a power-play wrister from the top of the right circle, but Spezza deflected Matt Cullen's one-timer on a power play to make it 2-1 just 4:31 into the game. Campoli extended the lead to two late in the period as the Senators capitalized on a turnover at the Capitals' blue line. At the time, the Senators had as many goals (three) as the Capitals did shots.
Ovechkin had a breakaway attempt denied by Elliott late in the period, and Regin also failed to convert a solo chance late in the period. Ovechkin's next chance for a breakaway also failed to go according to plan — he had trouble controlling Backstrom's pass — but he turned it into a goal by passing to Semin, who was trailing the play and trimmed the Capitals' deficit to one.
Green tied it less than a minute later with a one-timer from the left circle that deflected off Elliott's upper body, and late-season call-up Perreault gave the Capitals the lead early in the third period.
But Perreault was whistled for interference a few minutes later, leading to Spezza's goal that tied it at 4. Spezza didn't have an angle, but his shot from the goal line trickled through Theodore's legs 5:03 into the third.
NOTES: Alfredsson extended his scoring streak to eight games. ... Theodore got his first assist of the season on Semin's goal. ... Morrisonn returned after missing Sunday's game while recovering from having his wisdom teeth pulled. Washington C Brooks Laich missed his fourth game with facial injuries after being struck by a puck in practice. C Brendan Morrison (lower body), RW Scott Walker (knee) and C Boyd Gordon (back) remained sidelined. ... Ottawa LW Milan Michalek (left leg) sat out for the 12th time in 13 games, while D Filip Kuba (lower body) missed his sixth straight.