Washington -- The Washington Capitals defeated the visiting Nashville Predators in a shoot out, 4-3, missing their MVP and leader Alex Ovechkin, who was en route to Russia to be with his ailing grandfather.

The Caps took a 3-2 lead against Nashville less than two minutes into the third period, on a power play goal by their new scoring leader Alexander Semin. It was Semin's eighth goal of the season. They then surrendered the tying goal with less than seven minutes to play, but held on to the tie despite being outshot (15-3) and outplayed in the third period to force overtime. Overtime was uneventful, and the Caps went to their second shootout of the season.

But even the shootout went to overtime, as three shots apiece found the teams still tied. Semin and Ville Koistinen each tallied on their shootout attempt, and the teams were forced to send out extra skaters. But Michael Nylander beat goalie Dan Ellis with a nifty backhand and Jose Theodore denied Martin Erat to secure the victory.

The Caps opened the scoring with a goal from Viktor Kozlov, his first of the season, and got a short-handed marker from David Steckel, who finished a breakaway on a feed by Semin. Nashville got two goals ferom Jason Arnott and one from Koistinen.

Washington was jumping in the first period, outshooting Nashville 19-4 in the frame. But as well played as the first period was, it was equally as bad in the third, as the Caps allowed 15 shots and the game tying goal to Arnott. The Caps also took three consecutive penalties in the third, making their jobs considerably more difficult. They were beaten to pucks, stopped skating on defense, and generally were outworked in the last period, something that as to stick in the craw of coach Bruce Boudreau.

But his team secured the victory regardless, even without its marquee player. Ovechkin's timetable for return remains uncertain. The Caps, however, are off until Saturday when they face Buffalo in upstate New York.

Jose Theodore was the winning goalie (4-2-0, 3.20, .886). He stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced, including 14 of 15 in the third period.

Photos (c) Cheryl Nichols 2008.

WAS: Kozlov (1) from Green (1-12:13); Steckel (2) from Semin (1-15:38-SH); Semin (8) from Backstrom and Federov (3-1:58-PP); SO: Semin; Nylander

NSH: Koistinen (1) from Dumont and Erat (1-13:59-PP); Arnott (4) from Dumont and Hornqvist (2-11:21); Arnott (5) from Suter and Dumont (3-13:24); SO: Koistinen

GOOD: David Steckel. He played his most complete game of the season last night. Was +1 with short-handed goal. Recorded three hits. Was third in short-handed ice time behind Schultz and Semin. Voted #3 star by attending media.

BAD: Penalties in the third period. Brooks Laich and Nylander each got hooking calls and Shaone Morrisonn took an interference at 15:51. The stripes seemed a little uneven anyway last night, but to give them a reason to blow thier whistles in the third period makes everyone's job tougher.

UGLY: Nashville's shooting. Through the first two periods, the Predators had missed as many shots (11) as it had put on goal.
NEXT GAME: Saturday, November 1 against the Buffalo Sabres from HSBC Arena at 7:00 pm

RECORD: 5-3-1, 11 points, first place in Southeast Division. Two-game winning streak

NOTES: The team honored Sergei Federov and Tyler Sloan with video messages on their accomplishments while on the three-game road trip. Federov became the all-time leading scorer among Russian-bron players, and Sloan scored his frist NHL goal.

Ovechkin's streak of 203 consecutive games played was broken.

Semin's power play goal was his first of the season. His previous seven goals were all even strength. Semin currently leads the NHL in scoring with 19 points, one ahead of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.