The IIHF's new rules on the spelling of Russian surnames hasn't taken effect yet in the NHL, but whether you spell it Semin, Syomin, or just plain Sasha, the enigmatic Russian had one of those night, tallying three times in a Washington Capitals 7-6 win over the Anaheim Ducks, winners of eight of their last ten games entering play.

As a result, the Capitals inched past Montreal for fifth place in the conference with 70 points, just four behind Southeast Division leading Tampa bay.

Trailing entering the third period, Semin tied the fast-paced game at six mid-way through the frame -- banging home a bouncing puck -- and netted the game-winner with just 1:47 remaining, sneaking a backhander shortside against backup goalie Curtis McElhinney, playing for All-Star Jonas Hiller, placed on the injured list earlier in the day with fatigue symptoms.

It was an exhilarating ending to one of the wildest, craziest games you'd ever want to see.  Especially considering the fact the Capitals had scored just six goals in their last four games combined.  Even though they surrendered six as well, it was refreshing to see the Caps look like, well, the Caps, after playing under a fog for so long at times this season.

But the Caps might have found something else in addition to the goal scoring touch along the way:  Much-Needed Passion.

Perhaps it was the result of another tongue-lashing from their coach after allowing a short-handed goal. Perhaps they fed off the energy brought by defenseman John Erksine, who roughed up Duck defender Andy Sutton after he maliciously boarded Matt Hendricks (Hendy was okay despite the scary-looking hit). But whatever it was, they played differently after that sequence of events.

Washington actually took a 2-1 lead on Brooks Laich's 12th goal of the season just mid-way through the first period, but surrendered the next three goals, including the shorty by Corey Perry (29). David Steckel and Semin answered just 1:49 apart to draw even, but Lubomir Visnovsky managed to sneak a long-range wrister through to give Anaheim the advantage heading into the second intermission.

Mike Knuble tied it just 58 seconds into the third with a nifty deke on a breakaway, sprung by Nicklas Backstrom. Bobby Ryan scored at 5:51 for Anaheim to provide a 6-5 lead, setting up Sasha Minor's heroics.

Semin did not look good his first two games back after missing 12 games with his lower body injury. But last night's performance reminds all Caps fans why GM George McPhee keeps signing the guy to one-year contracts. At any time, he can be the best player on the ice. Even on a team with Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom.

The Great Eight was a strong presence in this one as well.  Ovechkin opened the Caps scoring with a breakaway shot he took falling down that beat McElhinney through the five-hole. He later assisted on Semin's first goal. He was credited for four hits, but seemed like he was just all over the place.

This was indeed a wild affair.  There were 13 goals total.  Washington erased three deficits.  Both D.C. goalies played -- and struggled.  And of course, the hattie.

But the Caps grabbed two points out west with three more games left on this grueling road trip.  San Jose Thursday night.  Buffalo Sunday on national television.  Pittsburgh Monday on national television.

It doesn't get any easier.  But this is the hole the Capitals have dug for themselves. 

Last night they showed some pride battling back from three deficits to a good west coast team.  Let's see what they have left in the tank in San Jose against a team that shut them down, and out, just last week.

CAPS NOTES:  Michal Neuvirth gets the win, but stopped just nine of 12 shots.  Semyon Varlamov started and was yanked after the first, as he allowed three goals on nine shots.

It was Semin's seventh career hat trick and ended his 17-game goalless drought.

John Carlson was plus-4 and Karl Alzner was plus-3 on the night.  Anaheim rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was minus-5.

Alzner has three assists, Hendricks and Backstrom two apiece.  Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf had four point nights for Anaheim, both with a goal and three assists.

Mike Green did not play for the second straight game.  He was to be evaluated by doctors in California for his inner ear problem.

Patrick McNeill was recalled from AHL Hershey but did not play.  If he gets into a game on the trip, he will wear No. 46.