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Nicklas Backstrom leads Capitals past Coyotes 4-3

Phoenix Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura (24) fights with Washington Capitals left wing Matt Hendricks (26) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Washington, Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. Both players received major penalties for fighting. Phoenix Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura (24) fights with Washington Capitals left wing Matt Hendricks (26) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Washington, Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. Both players received major penalties for fighting. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
By Howard Fendrich
AP Sports Writer / November 21, 2011

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WASHINGTON—Nicklas Backstrom scored early in the third period, then set up Brooks Laich's power-play goal, helping the Capitals rally from a two-goal deficit and edge the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 Monday night, ending Washington's four-game losing streak.

The victory was the 200th of Bruce Boudreau's NHL coaching career. He took over the Capitals in November 2007, promoted from AHL affiliate Hershey when Washington fired Glen Hanson on Thanksgiving Day.

The Capitals entered Monday in a serious slump, having lost six of their previous seven games, including a 7-1 setback at Toronto on Saturday. But Backstrom broke a 2-2 tie only 1:52 into Monday's final period, lifting the puck past goalie Jason LaBarbera from near the net.

Joel Ward and Alex Ovechkin were credited with assists -- Ovechkin's first point in five games. That ended only the second four-game point drought of Ovechkin's NHL career; the other came in February 2007, and he's never had a longer stretch.

Backstrom earned an assist on Laich's goal at the 7:06 mark of the third period during a 5-on-3. That was Washington's first power-play goal in six games and made it 4-2.

Lauri Korpikoski's second goal of the game, with about 8 1/2 minutes left, cut the Coyotes' deficit, but they couldn't manage to pull even.

John Carlson and Cody Eakin scored even-strength goals for Washington, and Tomas Vokoun made 20 saves.

Phoenix's first two goals came during power plays for Washington. Radim Vrbata's came on a classic short-handed breakaway, while Korpikoski's first of the night came via penalty shot after he was interfered with during a short-handed breakaway.

The Capitals were coming off a 0-3 road trip, but improved to 7-1-1 at home this season.

Vrbata put the Coyotes ahead with his team-high ninth goal of the season 4:33 into the game. Carlson was at the point on the power play when he fumbled away the puck to Vrbata, who beat Vokoun 1-on-1 with the Coyotes' first shot of the evening.

In the final minute of the first period, Washington's Matt Hendricks got into a fight with Kyle Chipchura, bloodying the Phoenix forward's face. The clash drew loud cheers from the stands when it was shown on the above-ice video board, and if it was an attempt by Hendricks to fire up his teammates, it didn't pay immediate dividends.

Instead, the Coyotes grabbed the next goal, going ahead 2-0 on Korpikoski's penalty shot 7 1/2 minutes into the second period. The penalty was awarded when Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman hooked Korpikoski, who had broken alone into Washington's zone.

Suddenly, though, the Capitals came alive. One second after that power play elapsed, Carlson put in a slap shot from near the blue line, an unassisted goal 8 1/2 minutes into the period that made it 2-1. And about three minutes later, Cody Eakin put the puck past LaBarbera to tie the game

Notes: In the second period, a red balloon -- apparently filled with helium -- floated out over the ice during the run of play. An official eventually corralled it and popped it, drawing boos from the crowd. ... Russian winger Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the Capitals. He has only three points in the past 11 games. ... The Coyotes wrapped up their longest road trip of the season, a five-game run during which they went 3-2. ... This was the teams' only game against each other this season. ... Capitals D Dmitry Orlov made his NHL debut. He was recalled from minor league affiliate Hershey of the AHL on Sunday.

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