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Kovalchuk's OT goal gives Devils win over Capitals


Kovalchuk's OT goal gives Devils win over Capitals

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Ilya Kovalchuk scored 4:39 into overtime, and the New Jersey Devils won their third straight game to start the lockout-shortened season, 3-2 over the winless Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Kovalchuk took a pass from defenseman Marek Zidlicky low in the left circle and beat Michal Neuvirth, who was outstanding in overtime. Neuvirth made seven saves, most on a New Jersey power play.

Stephen Gionta and Patrik Elias scored for New Jersey, which is off to its first 3-0 start since the 2002-03 season, the last time the Devils won the Stanley Cup.

Mike Ribeiro and Mike Green scored for Washington in the final 7:15 of regulation to force overtime. The Capitals (0-3-1) became the last NHL team to earn a point this season.

Neuvirth finished with 32 saves, stopping five shots after Green was called for interference in the opening minute of overtime.

Ribeiro had Washington's only shot against Martin Brodeur in the extra session, but it was a good one in close. Brodeur, who was within 7:15 of his 121st career shutout, made the save with his shoulder. The puck just missed the upper corner of the net.

Washington was seemingly out of the game trailing 2-0 until the Devils took a couple of penalties in the final 10 minutes of regulation, The Capitals took advantage despite playing their second game in two nights.

Ribeiro cut the deficit in half with a slam-dunk goal from the edge of the crease with the Capitals enjoying a two-man advantage.

Green, who was stopped on a great chance from between the circles in the opening minute, tied it with 2:56 left in the third period. Zidlicky failed to get the puck out of his zone, and Green beat Brodeur trough a screen with a shot from the right point for his first goal of the season.

Brodeur appeared headed for his second straight shutout since April 2010, but it wasn't to be.

Under new coach Adam Oates, the Capitals are off to their worst start since dropping six straight in the 1993-94 season. Washington recovered then and made the playoffs before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers in the second round.

The Devils didn't have a lot of chances against Neuvirth early, but made the most of the them.

Gionta gave the Devils the lead at 13:55 of the first period, just a second after an effective Capitals power play expired.

Defenseman Mark Fayne started the rush by poking the puck to Gionta at the blue line. He carried into center ice and made a cross-ice pass to Jacob Josefson. Before being sandwiched by defenseman Tomas Kundratek and Troy Brouwer, the Swede swept the puck to Gionta, who beat Neuvirth one-on-one for his second career regular-season goal.

Washington nearly tied the game on a power play with roughly eight minutes left in the second. Ovechkin, who was moved back to left wing from right wing before the game, was stopped on a blue-line blast. Brodeur then turned away a backhand rebound attempt by Joel Ward, who had the primary assist on Ribeiro's goal.

Elias stretched the Devils' lead to 2-0 with a minute left in the second period when New Jersey had a 5-on-3 advantage. A shot from the point by Zidlicky hit the skate of teammate David Clarkson in front, and Elias put the rebound into a wide-open net.

NOTES: Brodeur finished with 26 saves. ... The 3-0 start is the Devils' best since starting the 2002-03 season with the same record. They won the Stanley Cup that year.

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Capitals daily quote: 'You can't be half in'

Capitals daily quote: 'You can't be half in'

The Capitals have a lot to lament after Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat in Edmonton. They’re still not scoring. The special teams are still struggling. And the second periods, well, they haven’t been great.

But it has also become clear what’s irking Coach Barry Trotz the most. And it’s not poor execution.  

“We've got the right elements to do what we can do. But there has to be a level of everybody [being] all in. You can’t be half in. I know there’s a lot of games in the regular season. But there’s a lot good teams, and we saw a good one tonight in the Edmonton Oilers. They played very well. You can’t let your foot off the gas in this league or you find yourself in a hole sometimes.”

It’s not hard to decipher what Trotz is getting at. He wants better focus and commitment from certain individuals as the team heads to Vancouver for a Saturday night meeting with the Canucks.

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Who's hot and who's not: Ice cold special teams mask good starts from Ovechkin, Sanford

Who's hot and who's not: Ice cold special teams mask good starts from Ovechkin, Sanford

Once a week this season, we’re going to take a closer look at the numbers and point out a trends that every Capital fan should know about.  


Alex Ovechkin

By his own admission, the Capitals’ captain hasn’t been perfect. But he’s doing something no one else has managed: he’s scoring consistently. In fact, Ovechkin has tallied in four consecutive contests after going pointless in the first two. It’s Ovi’s longest goal streak since Feb. 7-13 of last season (also four games).    

Zach Sanford

The rookie is still looking for his first goal. But he’s been dangerous around the next in each of the Capitals’ last two games. The Oilers' Cam Talbot absolutely robbed Sanford with a splendid pad save midway through the second period on Wednesday. Hunch here is that he’ll get one sooner rather than later.

Blue line point production

The Capitals’ offensive punch (or lack thereof) has been a storyline through the first six games. In fact, they have mustered only 14 goals, which is tied for 26th entering Thursday’s games. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but this much is also clear: the defensemen are doing more than their fair share. All six of them have recorded at least one assist, and Matt Niskanen has a team-leading four helpers after picking up the primary on Ovi’s goal Wednesday night.



Power play

A top-five unit a year ago, the Capitals’ power play has fallen on hard times so far this season. In fact, it’s all the way down in 28th, having connected on just two of 19 opportunities. The two goals, by the way, came against a tired Avalanche team. The unit has gone 0 for 6 since.

Penalty kill

This was a top-two unit a year ago, and it’s now scuffling (statistically, at least) as much as the power play. It’s given up a goal in five of the first six games, including one in Edmonton, and is burried in 25th place (72.2-percent). Coach Barry Trotz pointed out Wednesday night that it’s a small sample size, but he also noted that the unit can do a better job of blocking shots, filling lanes and coming up with critical saves at big moments.

Tom Wilson

The fourth liner is the only Capital who’s suited up for all six games but is still looking for his first point. Sanford and Brett Connolly also have goose eggs, but they’ve played in four and two games, respectively. It’s time for Wilson to get on the board.