Oshie, Holtby guide Capitals by Wild
WASHINGTON — Coming off a two-game road trip where most everything went wrong, the Washington Capitals returned home and, at least for one game, set things right.
T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist, Braden Holtby stopped 30 shots and the Washington Capitals defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Saturday night.
Coming off consecutive 6-3 and 6-2 losses in which they fell behind early, the Capitals (11-9-1) never trailed against the Wild.
“We weren’t playing great in really any aspect of our game,” Oshie said. “You go down the list of things you want to do well and we weren’t doing any of them well on the road there. This is a big game for us, a big turning point.”
Dmitry Orlov also scored for Washington (11-9-1), which has won five straight on home ice.
“We didn’t play complete games (on the road trip) and a lot of the guys were passengers,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “I think tonight there was no passengers from the goal on out. And it feels a lot better.”
Nino Niederreiter scored for the Wild (9-8-2), who had a four-game winning streak stopped. Alex Stalock, making his first start since Oct. 31 and his first career appearance against the Capitals, had 40 saves.
Stalock stopped Chandler Stephensen’s penalty shot with 4:49 left to keep the Wild within 2-1.
But a four-minute high sticking penalty on Minnesota’s Ryan Suter with 3:13 left in the game led to Kuznetsov’s clincher with 2:37 remaining.
It was Washington’s second power-play goal of the game.
“It has been a seamless transition for them for 10 years,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of the Washington power play. “Everything works. Their power play was better than our power play. That was the difference.”
The Capitals were 2 of 5 with the man advantage while the Wild were 1 of 4.
Minnesota had won four straight by a combined score of 13-4 with three Devan Dubnyk shutouts but was unable to follow up an impressive comeback victory against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
Alex Ovechkin left the game with 11:00 left in the second period after taking a puck to the face. He fell to the ice and left a trail of blood behind from a cut lip when he went to the dressing room. He returned to start the third period.
“Just try to feel my tooth, and it’s fine,” Ovechkin said with a stitched upper lip. “Just moving a little bit, but it’s fine. It’s hockey.”
After a pair of ugly road losses, the Capitals successfully returned to Capital One Arena, where they have won five in a row.
Saturday night opened a stretch where Washington will play nine of 10 games at home, giving them a chance to gain ground in the bunched-up Metropolitan Division, where seven points separated the eight teams when play began Saturday.
A scoreless game gave way to a flurry of goals midway through the first period and Washington scored first.
On a power play, Oshie capped a pretty passing sequence when he one-timed Kuznetsov’s feed past Stalock from the slot at’9:42. It was Oshie’s tenth of the season and seventh on the power play.
“Really for me they had two options there, it’s Oshie of Ovechkin,” Stalock said. “I thought when Kuznetsov got it down there he was going to go to Ovechkin, but he picked Oshie and he made a good shot. We went over it. It would be nice to get out there and try it again.”
The goal snapped a streak of 17 straight power plays killed off by the Wild.
A Washington penalty soon yielded the equalizer as Niederreiter scored on the rebound of Mikael Granlund’s shot at 12:02. Niederreiter has scored in three straight games.
The tie didn’t last long as an Orlov blast from the point eluded Stalock’s blocker just 44 seconds later to make it 2-1.
“When we are playing on top of our game and playing like tonight, then we’re hard to play against,” Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom said.
The second period was scoreless.
Minnesota nearly tied it with under two minutes left, but Holtby made a stellar play to get his glove on a one-timer from Kyle Quincey in the slot.
NOTES: Washington has won six straight versus Minnesota. ... Capitals D Aaron Ness, LW Nathan Walker and D Christian Djoos were scratched. ... D Gustav Olofsson was scratched for the Wild. ... The Capitals are 6-1-1 when they score power play goal. ... Minnesota’s Jason Zucker saw his career-high five-game goal streak end. ... Wild RW Mikael Granlund had an assist, giving him four in his last three games.