Capitals

Capitals

WASHINGTON -- Evgeny Kuznetsov’s overtime goal made up for a blown two-goal third-period lead and the Capitals beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 at Capital One Arena on Thursday. 

Washington has now won three of four games on a six-game homestand. Kuznetsov had two goals and an assist, Matt Niskanen had a third-period goal and backup goalie Pheonix Copley made 34 saves.  

Here are five reasons Washington won. 

Pheonix Copley

Washington’s backup goalie had a strong game with 34 saves on 37 Colorado shots. In the same week he signed a three-year contract extension worth $3.3 million, Copley bought the Caps another win on a homestand where they needed to collect points after an 0-5-2 stretch. His best moment? At 6:25 of the second period, he robbed Avalanche star center Nathan MacKinnon on a 2-on-1 with Gabriel Landeskog to keep the game tied 1-1. He shook off a bad goal late by Colin Wilson that tied the game 3-3 with 2:07 to go.  

Andre Burakovsky

It’s been a rough few months for Burakovsky, who has been a healthy scratch six times since Dec. 11 and had his production crater. No surprise that his name comes up now in almost every trade rumor reported nationally. Things are picking up a bit for Burakovsky, though. He went hard to the net at 6:31 of the first period and was in perfect position to deflect home a T.J. Oshie pass to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Burakovsky has two goals and two assists in his past seven games. It might be too late, but it’s a start. Thursday was also Burakovsky’s 300th career NHL game with Washington.

 

Kuznetsov powering up

The Capitals are heating up on the power play, a unit that struggled for over a month to live up to its lofty reputation. They generated 15 shots on six power plays. One of those was an Alex Ovechkin blast that trickled past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. Evgeny Kuznetsov was there to make absolutely sure the puck crossed the line, getting behind Varlamov and nudging it across to make it 2-1 at 8:38 of the second period. Washington is 4-for-19 with the extra man in the past six games.  It was Kuznetsov's first three-point game since Oct. 10. He now has 10 points in his past six games.  

Avs didn’t start Grubauer

OK – no way to tell what would have happened if Colorado stated former Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer instead of…former Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov. But it was the first homecoming for Grubauer since Washington won the Stanley Cup in June. He played a huge role last year in helping the Capitals win the Metropolitan Division for a third consecutive season. The two Caps players who didn’t return this season were Jay Beagle and Grubauer. Beagle made his return on Tuesday with the Vancouver Canucks and drew a huge ovation from the Capital One Arena crowd. Grubauer, another homegrown product and Braden Holtby’s primary backup for three full seasons, drew a warm ovation and a video tribute from the team. Just would have been nice to see him play.

Matt Niskanen

What looked like an insurance goal just 34 seconds into the second period turned out to be absolutely necessary. Niskanen was in perfect position when a hard shot by Jakub Vrana on the left wing caromed out to the boards on the right side and Niskanen one-timed a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle and past Varlamov. It was his second goal in five games and eighth on the season.   

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