WASHINGTON (The Sports Xchange) – The Washington Capitals knew they could do better on the power play. Turns out, they were correct and the road-tripping Colorado Avalanche were victims of Washington’s extra man prowess.
T. J. Oshie tallied two goals, Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season and Philipp Grubauer registered his first career shutout as the Washington Capitals downed the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Ovechkin and Oshie scored power-play goals in the first and second periods, respectively, for the Capitals (2-0-1). Washington entered 0-for-8 on the power play before converting 2 of 5 against a Colorado team playing its second game in as many nights and third in four days.
“I think our first couple games we didn’t execute,” Ovechkin said. “The first goal was, I think, very important for us, mentally. You can see when we have power-play opportunities, we have so many chances to score. We get two and we’ll take it.”
Grubauer had 18 saves in his first appearance of the young season in relief of goaltender Braden Holtby. The Capitals outshot the Avalanche 20-5 in the first period and 40-18 overall one night after Colorado (2-1-0) won at Pittsburgh, the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“It’s imperative that a team that played the night before, you want to come at them, you want to have a good first (period),” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “If you can get them on their heels a little bit and make ’em look up from a little bit of a hole all night, then I think it gets harder and harder as the night went on.”
Colorado offered scant resistance early.
“We chased the game all night,” forward Matt Duchene said. “We weren’t able to match their intensity and their (competitiveness) right from the beginning.”
Washington swept Colorado last season and is halfway to a repeat thanks to a dominant performance on both ends. The Capitals went 3-for-3 on penalty kills. Marcus Johansson had two assists.
Oshie knocked in a rebound past Semyon Varlamov for his second goal after the Colorado goalie denied a streaking Ovechkin seven minutes into the third period.
Varlamov had 37 saves. The former Capital held his own early despite the onslaught.
The Capitals controlled possession in the first period, but couldn’t convert against Varlamov until Ovechkin turned a busted play into Washington’s first power-play goal in 10 attempts this season. The NHL’s top goal scorer in each of the past four seasons, Ovechkin beat Varlamov to the near post with a one-timer from the left wing off a pass from Dmitry Orlov with 4:16 left in the period.
Oshie first goal of the season with 8:28 remaining in the second period came 12 seconds after Colorado’s Jarome Iginla was sent to the penalty box for instigating a fight with Washington’s Tom Wilson. Camped in front of the goal, Oshie rammed home the puck off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom from behind the net.
“Washington came out very hard in the first period,” Varlamov said. “When you’re losing 2-0, it’s hard to come back against Washington. … It was a tough night.”
The Capitals received a jolt when Orlov sent Duchene skyward with a hard hip check in the first period.
“Wow. You got the big woop on the bench,” Trotz said.
Oshie added, “I thought it was one of the cooler hits I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure.”
Nathan Mackinnon had four shots on goal for Colorado.
NOTES: Jared Bednar’s late summer whirlwind from coaching American Hockey League champion Lake Erie to taking the Colorado job left little time to focus on anything but the basics. That included the schedule. “After that (first) week of practice, we started looking ahead,” Bednar said. The Avalanche play five of their first seven games on the road, including the current four-game trip with matchups against Pittsburgh and Washington. “Obviously, this is a tough start for us, but it’s a good challenge for our team. It’s good for our team to get out on the road together.” Including the AHL and preseason, Bednar’s teams had won 17 straight games… Washington honored G Braden Holtby before the game as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. … C John Mitchell, RW Ben Smith and D Eric Gelinas were Colorado’s scratches. … Washington scratches included D Taylor Chorney and C Zachary Sanford. …Washington travels for Thursday’s matchup against the Florida Panthers. …Colorado’s road trip continues Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.