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Associated Press
1/4/2007 9:48:12 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - Dainius Zubrus and Alexander Semin each scored twice, Alex Ovechkin had three assists, and the Washington Capitals ended their five-game losing streak by beating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 Thursday night.

Zubrus put Washington ahead 2-1 in the first period with two goals in less than 2½ minutes - both with help from reigning rookie of the year Ovechkin - and Lawrence Nycholat and Semin scored 56 seconds apart in the second period.

That was it for Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet, who was yanked 8:48 into the second period and cracked his stick across his knee after leaving the ice. Huet came into the game leading the NHL with a .930 save percentage, but he allowed four goals on 19 shots before giving way to David Aebischer.

Semin flipped the puck over Aebischer's left shoulder midway through the final period for his 19th goal to close the scoring.

Washington goalie Olie Kolzig allowed Craig Rivet's power-play goal in the first period, and that was it, finishing with 27 saves. Kolzig flipped to his back while making a fantastic reflex stop on Michael Ryder's putback late in the second.

Ovechkin's season-worst goal drought reached five games. Still, he reached the season's midway mark with 54 points, three more than a year ago. As a whole, the Capitals have shown even more improvement, reaching the halfway mark at .500 (17-17-7). A year ago, they were 10 games under .500 through 41 games.

The Capitals had won only three of their 21 previous games this season in which the opponent scored first, and Montreal went ahead on Rivet's fifth goal at the 9:34 mark, off assists from Alex Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse.

But Washington, which lost to visiting Montreal 4-1 on Dec. 27, tied Thursday's game at the 15:21 mark of the first period on a power play. Ovechkin took a shot that sent Huet sprawling, and Zubrus put in the rebound, then dropped to his knees and raised both arms.

Zubrus' celebration was more muted at 17:43 when he put the hosts ahead 2-1 with a close-range shot while Ovechkin screened Huet. That gave Zubrus 16 goals this season and 200 points with the Capitals, a team he joined in a trade from Montreal during 2000-01.

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