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Ovechkin scores late, Capitals defeat Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- It really isn't possible to keep a player of Alex Ovechkin's caliber down for long, something the Colorado Avalanche learned the hard way Thursday.

Held without a point in his previous three games and without a shot for the first two periods at Pepsi Center, Ovechkin scored a spectacular goal with 5:56 remaining in regulation to give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win.

Ovechkin sped into the Avalanche end and maneuvered past defenseman Jan Hejda after a pass from Brooks Orpik. Ovechkin moved in on goalie Reto Berra and fired the puck wide, but took the carom off the end boards and scored as he was skating by the net.

"It was a lucky bounce," said Ovechkin, who had four third-period shots and assisted on Nicklas Backstrom's goal early in the second period. "When I [made] a move I didn't see the goalie was a little bit up, so I would probably keep skating and put it in the empty net. But luck was on my side and I was able to put [the carom] in. It was a huge goal and gave us the points."

The Capitals went 2-1-0 on their three-game road trip and ended the Avalanche's winning streak at two games.

"It was a good play, but I can play better," Berra said of Ovechkin's goal. "I went down a little early and I was late on the second [shot]. It's tough. We played really good in the third period. We deserved to go to the OT. It was a good play by him and not a really good play by me."

Hejda blamed himself for giving Ovechkin too much room after he skated across the blue line.

"Obviously it wasn't a great play by me," Hejda said. "I think the biggest problem I had was that he had good speed through the neutral zone and my mistake was I didn't have a good gap on him. I gave him too much room. He faked a shot and then he went around me. He missed the net, but he kept going and he was able to play the rebound from the back board. It's a game about mistakes and I made one and we paid the price."

The Avalanche tied the game 2-2 at 6:44 of the third period on Tyson Barrie's first goal in 13 games. After Nathan MacKinnon had the puck knocked off his stick in the Washington end, Gabriel Landeskog gained possession and made a pass through the slot to Barrie, who beat Braden Holtby with a quick shot.

Holtby had 27 saves and has held opponents to two goals or fewer in five consecutive games.

"It's big," he said of the win. "We have to get all the points we possibly can, doesn’t matter road or home. These last two games we’ve played two very underrated teams and came away with victories (including a 2-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday)."

The Capitals took a 2-1 lead in the second period on goals by Backstrom and Jason Chimera, who broke a 1-1 tie at 12:10 with his first goal in 14 games.

Daniel Briere scored for the Avalanche at 2:53 when he converted the rebound of MacKinnon's shot.

Backstrom opened the scoring at 1:04 of the period with a shot from the right circle. Backstrom had a step on Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay when he took a cross-ice pass from Ovechkin.

"Usually he has two guys on him like he did, and he fed me," Backstrom said. "I thought he had lots of juice. He was flying around."

The Avalanche tied the game on Briere's goal after rookie Dennis Everberg prevented a potential scoring chance when he moved the puck from Berra's crease and passed to MacKinnon, who skated into the left circle for a shot. Briere was in the slot when he backhanded the rebound into the net.

Tanguay, who leads the Avalanche with seven goals, went to the locker room at 7:29 after he was hit in the face with a shot by Ovechkin. Tanguay missed the rest of the game with a jaw injury.

"I haven't seen him yet," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "He got a puck on the jaw. We'll know more [Friday]."

The Capitals went ahead on Chimera's goal. He beat Berra to the far side with an unscreened 35-foot shot from the left circle.

"I'm not really happy with that game," said Berra, who had 20 saves. "I think I could stop each of these goals."

Roy was pleased with the Avalanche effort.

"We were outstanding defensively, we gave them only 23 shots," Roy said. "We were certainly pleased with the performance we had in our own end. Too bad we could not score towards the end. We had our chances, plenty of looks. It's a tough situation losing a game where you think you played a good game, but sometimes those things happen."

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