Alexander Semin's equipment bag sat outside the visiting locker room at Prudential Center by itself. It was the first one on the cart to head out to the bus.

It was only fitting. Semin had no use for his equipment for the last 24 minutes Friday night, benched for poor play as coach Bruce Boudreau was willing to sacrifice talent for effort in order to beat the New Jersey Devils, which the Washington Capitals did 3-1. Semin was firmly planted on the bench as part of the most recent and most glaring example of accountability.

"You've got to practice what you preach," Boudreau said. "It can't be lip service and then go out and do the same stuff."

Any question about the talk being just "lip service" was erased Friday night. Mike Green was out again with an injury, but Boudreau still shortened his bench to jump-start his team. It worked, as the Caps chipped away at a one-goal deficit with timely offense from Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera and finally Marcus Johansson.

"Bruce has kind of been talking all year that he's going to do what he has to do to win hockey games," right wing Troy Brouwer said. "[He was] really just shortening the bench quite a bit, sending a message to the guys. I think the guys obviously responded to it as well."