WASHINGTON -- Mike Richards was beginning to think he'd never score a goal again. When he finally did, he couldn't believe it really happened.
Richards' first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner in the Washington Capitals' 3-2 victory against the Arizona Coyotes at Verizon Center on Monday. It was his first goal in 13 months.
"I just figured with my luck, it'd be disallowed," Richards said. "I actually thought the goalie had it and the puck just popped out and it somehow ended up on my stick.
"Over the last couple of games I just started seeing the ice a little bit more, a little bit better, [had] more composure with the puck and when you have composure with the puck, you have more energy in the game if you're not chasing it. I've also thought that I might not score ever again."
Video: ARI@WSH: Richards scores first goal of the season
Since signing with the Capitals on January 6, Richards didn't have a point through 14 games. But on Monday, he had two breakaway chances while shorthanded before scoring his first goal since Jan. 3, 2015 when he played for the Los Angeles Kings.
"A lot of us know what it's like coming to a new team, trying to fit in and trying to impress everybody, and he's been doing that but hasn't quite gotten on the score sheet," forward Justin Williams said. "I know that drags on him. Hopefully that'll springboard him to a lot more. He's been doing a lot for this team and playing well."
Forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin had goals and goalie Braden Holtby made 25 saves for Washington (44-10-4), which has won four in a row. The Capitals are the first team in NHL history to win 44 games through 58 games.
"This team has a lot of the ingredients that are needed for a championship run," Williams said. "We'll learn more about our team these last 20 games. Obviously in April, May and hopefully June for us. That's the goal; it's Stanley Cup or nothing for this team and everybody's looking forward to the challenge."
Video: ARI@WSH: Kuznetsov puts the Capitals on the board
Defensemen Kevin Connauton and Connor Murphy scored for Arizona (27-26-6) and Louis Domingue made 31 saves in the first game of a five-game road trip that continues at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
"They capitalized on one more chance than us," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We competed hard, we did some good things, but still you've got to do enough to win games. That's the bottom line."
Connauton opened the scoring at 3:25 of the second period. On a 3-on-2 break, Connauton scored off a pass from Tobias Rieder. Connauton has six points in his past six games.
The Capitals have allowed the first goal in 12 of their past 15 games.
"[It's] something we need to look at, something we need to focus on, because you can't keep coming back all the time, although it's nice when we can do it," Williams said.
Video: ARI@WSH: Holtby fully extends to glove Stone's shot
Kuznetsov tied the game at 6:05 of the second on the power play. Kuznetsov put the puck on net from the hash marks in the right circle and it bounced off Domingue's arm and the top of his pad before crossing the goal line. Kuznetsov has seven points in his past five games. His five-game point streak is a career-high.
Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 39th goal of the season at 8:17 of the third period. He shot from the top of the left circle gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead.
Richards scored 26 seconds later. Tom Wilson got the puck out of the paint and sent it to Richards, who put it past Domingue to end his long drought.
Tippett challenged the goal, claiming Domingue had frozen it, but it was ruled a good goal. Tippett said it was the kind of play that needs to be followed through until the whistle, but Domingue was frustrated.
Video: ARI@WSH: Connauton opens up the scoring in the 2nd
"I'm expecting that they treat every guy the same way, and I feel like because I don't have that many games in this League, I'm treated differently," Domingue said. "I think that if Holtby would have covered the puck that way, they would have blew the whistle right away. All game it was the same thing; I didn't have the whistle. It happened before the third. I'm asking them and I don't have a reply."
Murphy scored at 9:43 when his shot made it through traffic and past Holtby. The goal was his fifth of the season.
Capitals forward Marcus Johansson did not play because of an illness.
Video: Ovechkin scores go-ahead goal in 3rd in Capitals' win