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Ovechkin goal late in third helps Capitals top Canucks

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com

VANCOUVER -- Alex Ovechkin failed on his first three one-timer attempts Thursday.

He wasn't thrilled with his fourth either, but it got the job done.

Ovechkin finally put one past Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller with 4:55 left in the third period to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 comeback win at Rogers Arena.

A long stretch pass by defenseman Dmitry Orlov stranded Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler in the neutral zone and created a 2-on-1 for Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who passed it across to Ovechkin for a one-timer that fluttered over the shoulder of a sliding Miller.

"Lucky one," said Ovechkin, who has a goal in all five games he's played this season. "We talked about our breakout, and it worked. Good pass by Kuzy, and muffin shot by me and it goes in."

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 23 saves in his sixth straight start to open the season, has seen Ovechkin's one-timer enough in practice to know it was only a matter of time before it went in.

"He was probably not very happy with himself not getting it over the pad on those earlier," Holtby said. "He takes extreme pride in that, so you could tell he was itching to get one for us, and he does that, he scores those big goals when I thought we weren't very sharp. Your leaders, your big guys, need to come up with those big goals to turn momentum your way."

Holtby did his part too, making several big saves in the third period, but it was the third line that had the biggest impact for the Capitals.

Charged with shutting down the Canucks' top line, center Jay Beagle set up Jason Chimera's goal late in the first period, and then tied the game 5:42 into the third period with his first goal of the season.

"It was really the Beagle line, they were the ones that put the work boots on and just went to work, and they sort of pulled the rest of the group into the fight," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We were able to tie it up and then cash in on a controlled breakout and two skilled players making a pretty good play … but today we won because of the Beagle line."

Washington (5-1-0) has won four in a row.

Radim Vrbata scored his first goal of the season after being reunited with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin on Vancouver's top line, and then helped set up Henrik to end a long power-play drought and put the Canucks ahead with 5:59 left in the second period.

"In this league, when you are up coming into the third, those are games you have to hold on to win and get the points," said Henrik Sedin, who also had an assist.

Miller made 32 saves, but it wasn't enough for the Canucks (3-2-2), who have lost all four games at home, including two in regulation.

"We have to be grittier and stop thinking home ice is going to come easy for us," Henrik Sedin said. "You can't start making plays at the blue lines, trying to make the cute plays. You have to be direct and get pucks deep and go from there. We haven't done enough of that."

Vancouver had chances early, but Holtby stuffed Brandon Prust on a great chance from atop the crease with five minutes left in the first period, and the Capitals opened the scoring on the ensuing rush. Beagle got behind Edler and held him off down the right wing, then cut to the net and passed through the crease to Chimera, who outraced Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski to the back of the net for a one-touch goal.

"When you got powerhouses like Ovi, [Nicklas] Backstrom, Kuznetsov and those offensive guy,s we have to chip in every once in a while to get the wins," Beagle said. "We can't rely on them every night offensively, and tonight was one of those nights where the third line had to step up and produce. We play against the No.1 line on the other team and try to be that shutdown line, but we also want to contribute when we can."

Vrbata, who was held without a point the first six games after leading the Canucks with 31 goals in 2014-15, tied the game 4:14 into the second period after a nice spin move by Henrik Sedin behind the net. Back with the Sedins at even strength for the first time this season, Vrbata went to the front of the net, and Henrik Sedin's pass bounced off his skate and trickled in between Holtby's legs.

"It wasn't the prettiest goal I ever scored, but I will take it and go from there," Vrbata said. "Hopefully, with this, the luck will change for us a little bit. Too bad it didn't lead us to two points."

The Canucks pulled ahead with some nice passing from behind the net, with Daniel Sedin moving the puck to Vrbata and his brother on either side, forcing Holtby to go back and forth, right to left. Henrik finished it with a one-timer between Holtby's left pad and the post.

The power-play goal at 14:01 of the second was the Canucks' first since their second game. Vancouver entered 1-for-20 with the man-advantage.

The Capitals, who wrap up a three-game Western Canada trip when they visit the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, tied it after Vrbata gave the puck away with a drop pass behind his own net. It ended up at the point, and Beagle tipped defenseman John Carlson's shot up and over Miller from in front of the net. The puck was still in the air behind Miller when Vancouver defenseman Luca Sbisa tried to bat it away but instead knocked it into his own net.

"A nice grinder goal," Beagle said.

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