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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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Pittsburgh Zoo takes shot at the Capitals with Halloween decorations

Pittsburgh Zoo takes shot at the Capitals with Halloween decorations

It's almost Halloween and the penguins are getting into the spirit. No, not the Pittsburgh Penguins, but actual penguins from Pittsburgh and they're taking shots at the Washington Capitals.

The Pittsburgh Zoo decorated its penguin exhibit for Halloween complete with tombstones. Go ahead and take a look at who is on those tombstones.

The Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks for the Stanley Cup last season and they just plain don't like the Caps and Flyers.

RELATED: Containing McDavid is the Caps' challenge Wednesday

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Containing Connor McDavid is the Capitals' central challenge Wednesday

Containing Connor McDavid is the Capitals' central challenge Wednesday

The Capitals have only faced Connor McDavid once, but they know all about his flashy game. After all, how could anyone be unfamiliar with the Oilers’ star, given his ever growing collection of highlight reel goals and set-up passes?

“Unpredictable,” said Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who figures to match up against McDavid quite a bit when Washington visits the brand new Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday night.

“Just from watching him on TV, you can tell the extra gear that he has,” Niskanen continued. “He can change speeds. He can move laterally and he can handle the puck at a high speed and in tight spaces. That makes him really dangerous. Young kids nowadays, they got the guts to try things. They’ll try a one-on-one, try to make a play in tight spaces, where it hasn’t been coached out of them yet. They’re a little unpredictable. That makes it challenging.”

Through the first two weeks this season, McDavid and the Oilers have been the talk of the league. In fact, Edmonton’s newly-minted captain—the youngest in league history at 19—enters Tuesday night’s games tied for the league lead in points with nine (four goals and five assists) while the upstart Oilers own the second best record in the NHL.

RELATED: Trotz wants Caps to embrace mentality of 'playing fast'

When the Capitals visited Edmonton a year ago, McDavid recorded a goal and an assist in a 7-4 Washington win. He was sidelined by injury when the teams reconvened in November.

On Wednesday night, the Capitals are expecting to see a more confident and comfortable playmaker.  

“He’s able to do things with the puck at a very high speed that a lot of guys can’t do,” T.J. Oshie said.

Asked how to best stop McDavid, the Capitals were in agreement: don’t allow him to carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and space.

“We’re going to have to limit his time and space and hopefully make him feel like he’s a little crowded out there,” Oshie said.

Said Lars Eller: “You want to get on him early. You don’t want to give him that room in the neutral zone because once he gets up to speed he’s hard to stop. You want to stop him early.”

“The more we have the puck, the better,” Eller added. “The best defense is to keep the puck away from him.”     

Andre Burakovsky played alongside McDavid when the two were teammates on the Erie Otters in 2013-14, so he’s well-versed on his game.  

“It’s always tough to know what he’s going to do,” Burakovsky said. “He’s so fast. He likes to just skate around you with the puck. Our D needs to have a really good gap on him. If not, he’s going to have a really big chance to just get around them. So our gap control is going to be the key for us.”

McDavid centers Edmonton’s top line, which includes Milan Lucic on the left and Jordan Eberle on the right. Eberle also ranks among the league leaders in points, with three goals and three assists, while Lucic has two goals and two helpers. That's a whopping 19 points between them.  

The Oilers, meantime, are tied for the league lead in goals per game this season (3.83) and are getting offensive contributions from throughout the lineup. But the McDavid line does the majority of the damage, obviously. Shut them down and the Caps' odds of escaping with two points will increase exponentially.  

“You got two really skilled guys and Lucic is that up-and-down winger, straight lines,” Niskanen said. “He probably creates some space for [McDavid and Eberle] by driving the net and being around the net front. There’s a combination of skills on that line.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how they do this year,” Niskanen added. “I think they have all the talent to be a much better team than they have been recently, with McDavid leading the way. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. It’s for sure going to be a different Oilers' team than it’s been the last couple of years.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz sees value in an early season road trip