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Alex Semin steals the show as Caps bottle Lightning 6-3

In a night that seemed to be all about Steve Stamkos vs. Alex Ovechkin, Washington’s other Alex stole the show with a three-goal, two assist night as the Capitals beat the Lightning 6-3.

Now, that’s not to say that Stamkos and Ovechkin were no-shows by any means. Ovechkin scored what was essentially the clincher in the third period after Alexander Semin made a penalty shot-worthy move and then fed the puck to Ovechkin’s sweet spot on the left wing. Ovechkin had one goal two assists in the game while Stamkos scored his 14th of the season and also added an assist. Nicklas Backstrom was no slouch, either, adding four assists to his season totals.

What started as a surprisingly methodical contest between the rising Lightning and the red-hot Capitals turned into a wild affair once Washington outscored Tampa Bay 4-2 in the third period.

Ryan Malone started the scoring in the third, tying the game 2-2. Semin then scored two goals, Stamkos got Tampa Bay back in the game on the power play and then Semin wreaked havoc to allow Ovechkin to increase the lead to 5-3. Semin earned his hat trick and fifth point with an emphatic empty-netter to the delight of a boisterous crowd in D.C.

Michal Neuvirth earned the 10th win of his impressive rookie season, stopping 38 out of 41 shots. Dan Ellis might have loosened his grip a bit on the starting job in Tampa Bay as he allowed five goals on 25 shots, although he made some tough saves and was occasionally hung out to dry by a scrambling defense.

The Lightning are clearly an up-and-coming team in the Eastern Conference and Southeast Division, but the Capitals are proving themselves to be the premium team in both areas (at least in the regular season) once again. Washington earned tough wins over Philadelphia and Tampa Bay lately, earning an impressive six-game winning streak.

To the surprise of few, the Capitals are firmly in place at No. 1 in the NHL right now.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.

Habs win big against Rangers, may have lost big with Price hurt

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Tonight was supposed to be about a clash of two Eastern Conference titans who sport arguably the two best goalies in the NHL. That mattered to Montreal Canadiens fans for about half the game against the New York Rangers, give or take a few minutes.

Priorities are now shifting to calling upon higher powers/etc. in hopes that Carey Price is OK.

Mike Condon replaced Price in the third period and … well, people are concerned.

Again, people are pretty worried right now.

Price being replaced isn’t the greatest sign, yet it’s early, so stay tuned for updates. Maybe it will merely be a matter of playing it safe?

Update: The good news is that Montreal won by a significant 5-1 margin.

Yes, that probably isn’t much solace for Habs fans. Agreed.

It sounds like Price re-aggravated his previous injury.