Ovechkin, Oshie score as Caps hand Avs first loss
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie cured two of the Washington Capitals’ early season woes all by themselves.
Oshie scored twice and Ovechkin got his first goal of the season on the power play in a 3-0 victory Tuesday night over the tired Colorado Avalanche. The well-rested Capitals skated circles around the Avalanche, who were playing the second half of a back-to-back and their third game in four days.
Washington had the puck for most of the night and shelled goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who came up big by stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced from his former team. The Avalanche barely tested Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer, who made 18 saves for his first shutout and earned “Gruu” chants from the home crowd in the process.
Much of the play was happening at the opposite end of the rink from Grubauer, as the Capitals continued to draw penalties by being a step ahead of opponents. Their power play entered 0 for 8, unusual for a unit that has perennially been one of the best in the league, but coach Barry Trotz predicted his team would score three times in one game and get back on track.
The Capitals scored twice on five opportunities, bringing their percentage to 15.4 through four games.
How the power-play goals happened was no surprise. Ovechkin beat Varlamov short side from his spot in the faceoff circle 15:44 into the first period, and Oshie scored from the edge of the crease on a pretty give and go with Nicklas Backstrom 11:32 into the second.
Ovechkin has led the league in goals and power-play goals in each of the past four seasons. He also set up Oshie’s goal 13:35 into the third as the first line scored for the first time in Washington’s third game.
Defenseman Dmitry Orlov fed Ovechkin on the power play and also made the highlight reel by upending Colorado forward Matt Duchene with an open-ice hip check in the first period.
The Avalanche lost for the first time in the young season under new coach Jared Bednar, who replaced Patrick Roy when the Hall of Fame goaltender resigned abruptly in August. They were noticeably fatigued from an overtime victory Monday in Pittsburgh and needed Varlamov to be sharp to stay in the game.
NOTES: The Capitals honored Braden Holtby with a pregame ceremony for winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender and for tying the single-season wins record. … LW Brett Connolly made his Washington debut, replacing rookie Zach Sanford in the lineup. … F Cody McLeod made his season debut for Colorado as Ben Smith was scratched.
Avalanche: Continue their brutal Eastern Conference road trip Thursday at the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Capitals: Look to stay unbeaten in regulation when they visit the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
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