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Caps climb to second in East

THE surging Washington Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout on Wednesday to continue their rise in the Eastern Conference.

Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the extra session and goalie Jose Theodore denied both Canadiens' attempts to help the Capitals win their third straight and take sole possession of second place in the conference.

Washington (37-16-5) trails the Boston Bruins by nine points in the East.

In other National Hockey League games, it was: Red Wings 6, Predators 2; Kings 4, Ducks 3; Blue Jackets 4, Blues 3; and Rangers 3, Islanders 1.

In Washington, Capitals All-Star Alex Ovechkin fired his NHL-leading 42nd goal of the night on a classic highlight reel score.

Ovechkin lost his footing but still managed to control the puck and tuck it past goaltender Carey Price to tie the game 1-1 at 10:07 in the first period.

"You have to try something new," Ovechkin said. "Sometimes I just need to change my game - and it's working."

Ovechkin was coming off a hat-trick performance in the Capitals' 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers at the weekend.

"I just covered the bottom half of the net like I'm supposed to and somehow he found a way to get the puck off the ice," Price said.

Theodore had 30 saves to keep things close for the Capitals, who needed a goal from Dave Steckel with 2:39 left to force overtime.

Tomas Plekanec gave Montreal a 3-2 advantage with a powerplay goal at 8:57 in the third. Canadiens wing Christopher Higgins opened the scoring with a wrister 2:33 into the game. Backstrom provided Washington with a short-lived 2-1 lead 13:42 into the first before Andrei Kostitsyn tied things up three minutes later.


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