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Capitals extend lead in tight Metropolitan race

Defeat Coyotes with three third-period goals; ahead by three points in division, NHL

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals extended their lead in the Metropolitan Division with a 4-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes at Verizon Center on Saturday.

The Capitals (49-17-8) scored three times in the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Washington leads the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins by three points in the division, Eastern Conference and NHL.

"These last few games, they're important for our psyche," Capitals forward Justin Williams said. "They're important certainly for us to get first in the conference, first in the League -- that's what we're obviously striving for -- and for our confidence to know that we can win one-goal games and know that we can win when we're coming from behind and know when the game's going to the third, we can win it. These are all things that are essential."

 

WATCH: All Coyotes vs. Capitals highlights

 

Daniel Winnik scored with 4:39 left in the third period to give Washington a 2-1 lead. Williams scored 32 seconds later to make it 3-1, and Winnik scored an empty-net goal with 1:39 remaining.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season at 8:31 of the first period on the power play to make it 1-0. Ovechkin joined Mike Gartner and Wayne Gretzky as the third player in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of his first 12 seasons.

Peter Holland tied the game 1-1 at 12:29 of the third period, and Mike Smith made 29 saves for Arizona (27-39-9).

"They're a good team," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "I'd like to see us get mentally tougher. We're on a hard road trip. We've got young players that are learning good lessons. I'd like to see our veterans be a lot mentally tougher. I know it's a tough situation and everything, but we had some players not play very well tonight."

Video: ARI@WSH: Winnik fights off defender for empty-netter

Washington outshot Arizona 16-3 nearly halfway through the second period. Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski missed an open net with 1:50 left in the second, and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was stopped by Braden Holtby on a late power play.

Holtby made 28 saves to win his 39th game (39-11-6).

"I think we accomplished what we wanted to do at home," Holtby said. "Since the California trip (March 9-12) it shows our maturity as a group, how we kept our focus through that and playing good hockey now. That's learning from our mistakes on that California trip (0-3-0) and making sure we're better in this road trip and focus on playing good road games and collecting hard-earned points."

 

Goal of the game

Nicklas Backstrom found Ovechkin with a behind-the-net pass in the left circle.

Video: ARI@WSH: Ovechkin finishes tic-tac-toe passing play

 

Save of the game

Smith stopped Kevin Shattenkirk on a 2-on-0 with Williams in the second period.

Video: ARI@WSH: Smith denies Capitals' prime scoring chance

 

Highlight of the game

Winnik scored on a breakaway thanks to a pass from Dmitry Orlov.

Video: ARI@WSH: Winnik beats Smith for late go-ahead goal

 

Unsung moment of the game

Holtby left his net for a pokecheck to stop Tobias Rieder on a breakaway in the first period.

 

They said it

"We've had different guys pitch in all year and he's been producing all year. The way that line has been playing, they stick to their role, eating away tough minutes against tough players, a lot of [defensive]-zone starts, at different times [penalty kill], and they've still found a way to get offense. It's good. All three of them do a great job and it's much-needed." -- Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby on Daniel Winnik, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson

 

"I mean, we certainly knew what was happening. We were letting them hang around. That's what happens. It just takes one. It just takes something to happen for them to say, 'You know what, we can win this game.' I thought we started well but weren't able to finish. Certainly something we need to work on, but something we can learn from and something that I know that we knew was occurring at the time." -- Capitals forward Justin Williams

 

"I think everyone knows that's his spot. It's just funny how the puck ends up getting there and no one's close to him. I think our penalty kill after that did an unbelievable job keeping it at one. I don't think we were happy with how we played that one, but from there on forward, we kill off a four-minute one in the second there and another big one in the third. So, other than that, our penalty killers were fantastic." -- Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith on Alex Ovechkin's power-play goal

 

Need to know

Washington set its record with its 31st home win (31-6-2). The Capitals won 30 home games in 1985-86 (30-8-2) and 2009-10 (30-5-6). … Holtby is one win from becoming the third NHL goaltender to have three consecutive 40-win seasons, joining Martin Brodeur (2005-08, New Jersey Devils) and Evgeni Nabokov (2007-10, San Jose Sharks). ... Ovechkin is the only player to score at least 30 goals in every NHL season since 2005-06. ... Winnik has 11 goals this season, tying his NHL high (2007-08, 2010-11). ... Washington is 23-2-2 in its past 27 home games.

 

What's next

Coyotes: At the St. Louis Blues on Monday (8 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-MW, NHL.TV)

Capitals: At the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-DC, FS-N, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Caps beat Coyotes to set club record for home wins

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