The Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals continue their Western Conference road trip Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
Washington, 4-4 in its last eight games, defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Thursday night, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win on T.J. Oshie’s goal with 2:04 left in the third period. Alex Ovechkin remains on 698 career goals, two away from becoming the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700, after going scoreless on seven shots on goal.
“Definitely as the game went on I felt our game kept building and was getting better in all areas,” Washington coach Todd Reirden told the team’s website. “Obviously a lot of guys stepped up and I thought we played way more as a team. … To pull out a win, coming from behind, it’s a big win for our team to start this road trip.”
No NHL team is more successful this season on the road than the Capitals, who are 21-6-1 away from Washington D.C.
The Capitals were energized by Nicklas Backstrom’s dressing-room talk during the first intermission. Backstrom called his team’s effort unacceptable after they got down 2-0 after 20 minutes.
“When he talks, everyone listens. He doesn’t say much all the time,” said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 32 saves. “I think that’s part of why it means so much when he does. When he says something, it’s time to listen. That’s why he’s been our backbone forever. That’s why everyone follows him.”
The Coyotes return home from a 1-2-1 East Coast trip and still are in the hunt for a wild card spot in the Western Conference. But a difficult stretch of games awaits them, with the New York Islanders, Dallas, St. Louis and Tampa Bay the next four games after playing the Capitals.
All five of those teams are in the top three in their respective division standings.
Arizona fell 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators, an Eastern Conference bottom dweller, on Thursday night. The Coyotes are 2-6-3 in their last 11 games.
“Obviously not ready to go. My fault,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet told NHL.com. “I thought the game plan was there. Ottawa likes throwing pucks at the net and we just didn’t box out.”
The Coyotes seem to be lacking a sense of urgency and spent much of Thursday defending instead of attacking.
“Urgency’s probably the right word for it,” forward Lawson Crouse said. “There should be no excuses out there, right? We’re coming down the final stretch where every point’s a big point, and we just didn’t have that from the drop of the puck. That’s on us.”
Ovechkin’s 40 goals lead Washington, the third-highest total in the league. The Capitals have three players (Ovechkin, Jakub Vrana, Oshie) with more goals than Arizona’s leading goal scorer, Conor Garland, who has 19.
-Field Level Media