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game recap

Capitals extend lead in Metro, Presidents' Trophy

Washington moves five points ahead in both with victory against Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- The Washington Capitals increased their lead in the Metropolitan Division and Presidents' Trophy races with a 5-3 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday.

The Capitals (51-17-8) have 110 points, five more than the Columbus Blue Jackets in the division and five ahead of the Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL points race. The Blackhawks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Wednesday.

The Capitals, who have won six in a row, have six games remaining, the Blue Jackets seven and the Blackhawks five.

"I think we are at the right level," said Alex Ovechkin, who was held without a point. "We've done well against the better teams and against the other teams that get up for us. This is the way we want to play in the spring. I think we are [playing] good hockey, the way we are expected to play."


WATCH: All Capitals vs. Avalanche highlights


Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist, and John Carlson, Jay Beagle and Lars Eller also scored for the Capitals, who have 107 wins the past two seasons.

The Detroit Red Wings had 108 wins (58 in 2005-06, 50 in 2006-07) for the most in consecutive seasons during the shootout era (starting 2005-06), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto and Mikko Rantanen scored for the Avalanche (20-53-3), who have lost seven consecutive games.

Kevin Shattenkirk's shot on a power play went into the net off Johansson's chest at 4:57 of the second period for his 23rd goal and a 3-1 lead.

"I think we were just taking what's there and we were getting the puck to the net," Johansson said. "The goal I got today went off my chest and in. Those are the goals you need sometime. I think we are feeling pretty great."

Video: WSH@COL: Kuznetsov bangs home the feed from Johansson

Johansson set up Kuznetsov's 18th goal at 11:03 to make it 4-1. The Avalanche closed to 4-2 at 13:50 on Nieto's sixth goal, and MacKinnon scored his 16th at 4:29 of the third to make it 4-3.

Philipp Grubauer had 32 saves for the Capitals after sitting as Braden Holtby's backup the previous eight games.

"It's tough if you have that amount of time off to get into the game," Grubauer said. "We're a pretty good group and moving forward we've got to eliminate some mistakes, otherwise they're going to cost us in the playoffs."

Eller had an empty-net goal with 1:22 to play.

"What we have to focus on now is why we're giving up those 4-1 leads," Shattenkirk said. "It's really just getting too casual. We have to make sure we stick with it."

The Capitals took a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Carlson on a power play and Beagle. Carlson opened the scoring at 4:00 with his ninth goal, beating Calvin Pickard from the slot.

Rantanen scored at 11:11 to tie the game 1-1 with his 17th goal, but Beagle put Washington in front 2-1 at 11:48 with his 13th.


Goal of the game

MacKinnon stickhandled between defensemen Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov, skated down the slot and put a backhand over Grubauer's blocker.

Video: WSH@COL: MacKinnon carves up defense for superb goal


Save of the game

Pickard denied Andre Burakovsky with his right pad on a breakaway at 13:24 of the first period. He backed into the net and smothered the puck with his glove before it crossed the line.

Video: WSH@COL: Pickard shuts the pads to rob Burakovsky


Highlight of the game

Carlson scored on a pass from Kuznetsov to complete a rush with Burakovsky.

Video: WSH@COL: Carlson finishes rush for early PPG


Unsung performance of the game

Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner played a major role in three penalty kills, logging 3:53. He played 19:19 and had two shots, a hit and a blocked shot.


They said it

"I didn't like the first period. We turned the puck over and gave up a lot of chances. Just not sharp, just blatant turnovers. The second period we played the way we're capable of playing. I didn't like our third at all. We gave up five 3-on-2s, a couple of other potential 3-on-2s, and that's not how you manage games." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz


"That's a really good team that comes at you with every line, every shift. There were portions of the game where they took it to us and then there were portions of the game where we took it to them. We answered back a little bit, pushed back and got a couple goals and made it interesting." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar


Need to know

The Avalanche signed forward Tyson Jost, their first-round pick (No. 10) in the 2016 NHL Draft, to a three-year, entry-level contract and he could play as early as Friday against the St. Louis Blues. Jost, 19, had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 33 games his freshman season at the University of North Dakota ... Ovechkin is tied with Alexander Mogilny for second place among Russia-born players with 1,032 NHL points. Sergei Fedorov is first with 1,179. … Referee Ian Walsh missed the third period after being hit with a puck on the ankle.


What's next

Capitals: At the Arizona Coyotes on Friday (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: Host the St. Louis Blues on Friday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-MW, NHL.TV)


Video: Capitals outlast Avalanche for sixth straight win

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