Coyotes come from behind to top Capitals in OT
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Lethargy begins with L, and that’s what the Washington Capitals were left with — a loss — after a uninspiring game against the NHL’s worst team.
Clayton Keller scored at 4:33 of overtime and the Arizona Coyotes rallied in the third period for a 3-2 victory on Friday night that halted the Capitals’ four-game winning streak and their own seven-game skid.
Arizona got tying goals in the third period from Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer, a turnaround from three days earlier when it gave up three consecutive goals in less than six minutes to Florida to lose 3-2 in a game they were dominating.
“Even more exciting than the win was how he won,” Fischer said. “It was a tough last game, but this was a complete game. ... It came down to the last minute, and when we play a full game we’re giving ourselves chances to win.”
Keller, a 19-year-old rookie, did exactly that by beating backup goalie Philipp Grubauer with a rebound off his own close-range wrist shot for his 12th goal of the season.
“I was able to beat my guy to the net, get a rebound and put it home,” said Keller, who recently went 17 games without scoring.
The Coyotes, losers of 10 of their previous 11 and only 3-11-1 at home going in, limited the Capitals to two shots in the first period and 17 overall. Arizona is 6-0-1 against the Capitals at home since 2006.
The Capitals gained a point despite their sluggish play, but coach Barry Trotz — denied a 736th victory that would have tied him with Lindy Ruff for fifth place in NHL coaching wins — said the story was his team losing a valuable point. The Capitals led 1-0 and 2-1, only to lose for the second time in 10 games this month.
“They stayed with it and (were) able to get a late goal and capitalized in overtime,” Trotz said. “I look at it as we had it, we’ve just got to close it out.”
The Capitals fended off two Arizona power plays after Evgeny Kuznetsov put them back into the lead at 2-1 with 4:32 gone in the third, but Fischer punched in a loose puck from the crease at 18:59 with goaltender Scott Wedgewood off for an extra attacker.
“We didn’t give them much, we had our chances and they finally started to fall there in the third,” Dvorak said. “We showed a lot of character, didn’t give up and found a way to tie it up.”
Earlier, Washington went up 1-0 after an uneventful start by both teams as T.J. Oshie finally found the net at 5:40 of the second period. Jakub Vrana took the puck away from Wedgewood (15 saves) behind the net, skated in front, gathered his own rebound and made a no-look backhand pass to Oshie for his 11th goal and first since Nov. 18.
“I think we should have won the game, but sometimes there are bounces on the ice and all we can do is learn from that,” Vrana said. “We’ll watch it on video and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney drew a holding penalty with only eight seconds left in the second period, and Arizona capitalized on the power play early in the third as Dvorak powered a wrist shot from the right circle under the crossbar to make it 1-1.
But Kuznetsov answered slightly more than three minutes later at 4:32, knocking down Christian Djoos’ shot while screening Wedgewood in front and backhanding the puck inside the right post. It was the 12th goal for Kuznetsov, who has seven points, including two goals, in his last five games.
Grubauer made 24 saves but dropped to 2-6-1 in 12 games.
“We didn’t give up too much, but we’ve got to capitalize on our chances,” Grubauer said.
There weren’t many of those early on. The first period was especially lethargic by both teams, with the combined seven shots — only two by Washington — being the lowest in the NHL this season. Washington didn’t get a shot until 10:21 into the game.
NOTES: Coyotes RW Nick Merkley, the second of the team’s two first-round draft picks in 2015, was scratched after making his NHL debut Tuesday vs. Florida. ... With both teams playing on back-to-back nights, each used its backup goalie. Capitals G Braden Holtby expects to start Saturday at Vegas, and Coyotes G Antti Raanta is scheduled to start vs. Colorado. ... Arizona C Zac Rinaldo, who does not wear a visor, appeared to break his nose in the first period but stayed in the game. ... Arizona RW Josh Archibald played his first game since being acquired in a trade Tuesday with Pittsburgh, getting 16:11 of ice time. ... The Capitals are 35-8-8 in December under coach Barry Trotz.