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Orlov, Capitals extend streaks to three against Jets

by Katie Brown

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals knew Evgeny Kuznetsov was talented, but this season they're finding out just how good the forward can be.

Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists in a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

"The way he can control the puck, protect the puck, he's very shifty, very deceptive," Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said of Kuznetsov. "On goals like that, you wouldn't see that backhand move work very often, when you're at the same side like that. He's just very elusive that way and tough to read. That comes from a high level of intelligence. (Teammate) Nick [Backstrom] is like that in a lot of ways too. Those are two of the smartest players I've played with, for sure. "

The 23-year old center has five three-point games this season, two in his past three games. Kuznetsov has nine points in his past seven games and leads the Capitals with 24 points.

"I think for his age he's really matured as a player," Backstrom said. "He's really responsible all over the ice. He's got his great skill too. He can do it all, and that's great for us. He's been playing great lately."

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period to help the Capitals win their third in a row. His third goal in three games gave the Capitals a 4-3 lead at 16:22 of the second period; it was a slap shot from the point that beat goalie Michael Hutchinson blocker side. Orlov previously had not scored since March 2, 2014.

Forwards Justin Williams, Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov scored for Washington (15-5-1); Holtby made 23 saves.

Hutchinson made 31 saves, and defenseman Tyler Myers and forwards Andrew Ladd and Mathieu Perreault scored for Winnipeg (10-11-2).

"It's just one of those games where I had to try and be aware of where everyone was on the ice, especially Ovechkin," Hutchinson said. "You kind of have to be aware of where he is because [the Capitals] are able to make good plays and get pucks to the net quick."

Williams scored 1:12 into the first period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Defenseman John Carlson's shot went wide behind the net and Williams scored on the rebound. It was his sixth of the season, fourth in his past seven games, and was the fastest goal to start a game for Washington this season.

Myers scored for Winnipeg at 6:38 of the first period to tie the game 1-1. Forward Bryan Little won the faceoff in the offensive zone and got the puck to Ladd, who passed to a wide-open Myers. With Capitals forward Brooks Laich tied up, Myers had plenty of space to score from the slot. The goal was Myers' second of the season and the 50th of his NHL career.

Ladd gave the Jets a 2-1 lead with his goal at 13:01 of the period. Forward Blake Wheeler fished the puck out of the corner to Ladd at the top of the left circle, where he sent a wrist shot past Holtby for his fifth of the season.

Ovechkin tied it 2-2 on a power play at 18:46 of the first. Carlson gave it to Ovechkin, waiting in his usual spot by the hash marks in the left circle. Ovechkin he kicked the puck to his stick to score his 11th goal, and second power-play goal of the season. Carlson's assist was his 11th of the season.

Ovechkin had seven of Washington's 15 shots on goal in the first period.

Backstrom made it 3-2 at 10:03 of the second with his eighth of the season. Defenseman Nate Schmidt sent a pass across the goal mouth to Backstrom for the tip-in. Backstrom has seven points in his past five games.

"I was just trying to time it there," Backstrom said. "I thought [Schmidt] was going to shoot it first, so I was just going to go to the net and hopefully get the rebound, but he saw me and he had a nice pass. He sees the ice really well, and I wasn't surprised, but I thought he was going to shoot."

Perreault went top corner on Holtby to tie the game 3-3 at 13:53 of the second period. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien corralled the puck at the point and fed Perreault, who scored his second of the season, breaking a streak dating to Oct. 18.

"We're chasing games," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "For too many minutes of the game, chasing that game, and when you're doing that you're looking for offense that's hard to generate, and we've got some guys scoring on a big chunk that aren't, and that has as much to do with some of the offense that we're giving up. Five-on-5, the shots, [the Capitals] have a bit of an advantage, I would expect that they would, but we're talking about four or five shots. They got a lot of shots on the power play, and that's [about] staying out of the box."

Kuznetsov scored with 6:16 remaining in the third period to make it 5-3.

"I think we're adding and building our game, foundation-wise," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We can play a 1-0 game. We can play a wide-open game. We have shown the ability that if we don't score first, we can come back. I think we've got good personnel. I think that they believe in what we're trying to accomplish."

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