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game recap

Capitals set franchise record with 55th win

Defeat Avalanche to surpass 54 from 2009-10; Holtby one victory shy of Brodeur's single-season mark

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- The Washington Capitals put on a dominating performance Friday at Pepsi Center, yet needed to hold on for a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Capitals (55-16-6) outshot the Avalanche 47-19 and set a franchise record for wins in a season; Washington won 54 games in 2009-10.

"This has been a very special season," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "This group has been very consistent, they care about the regular season, they care every time they step on the ice. That's a great asset."

Goalie Braden Holtby, who made 17 saves, won his 47th game of the season, one shy of the NHL record set by Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils in 2006-07.

Video: WSH@COL: Ovechkin nets PPG for 45th goal of season

"Two to go," said left wing Alex Ovechkin, who scored his NHL-leading 45th goal of the season in the second period. "We're going to do our best to help him out. It's a lifetime opportunity and we're going to do our best."

Holtby is 4-0-1 in his past five starts and 7-1-2 in his past 10.

"It shows the consistency of our team," Holtby said. "We haven't taken any games off. Everybody has bad games, but it hasn't been for lack of passion or team goal."

The Capitals, who have clinched the Presidents' Trophy, are 1-0-1 in the first two games of a three-game road trip that concludes Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes.

Video: WSH@COL: Holtby makes a fine save denying Landeskog

"It's a team on a mission, reminds us of 2001," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said, referring to Colorado's second Stanley Cup championship team. "It's pretty impressive the way they're playing. They had a hard fought game in Philadelphia (a 2-1 shootout loss Wednesday), they clinched the Presidents' Trophy, they did everything they had to and they're still playing a high-tempo game, very intense."

The loss was the second in a row and fourth in five games for the Avalanche (39-35-4), who remain five points behind the Minnesota Wild with four games remaining for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"They controlled that game from start to finish," Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie said. "It was frustrating to be a part of. Our (defense) corps wasn't good enough, myself included. We weren't able to get the puck into our forwards' hands and we were turning pucks over."

The Capitals outshot the Avalanche 15-6 in the second, and got goals from Jay Beagle, Ovechkin and Jason Chimera in a 5:26 span to build a 3-0 lead.

Video: WSH@COL: Chimera deflects the puck past Varlamov

Beagle opened the scoring at 8:50 with his eighth goal after he intercepted Avalanche defenseman Chris Bigras' pass behind the net and jammed the puck by Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, who made 43 saves, and inside the right post.

"I made a read that he was going to try to net-reverse it to the wide (defenseman) so I put on the brakes and I was able to pick it off," Beagle said. "(Varlamov) didn't expect me to pick that one off so I kind of hard wrapped it and I got a lucky bounce."

Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead at 12:57 on a power play, 36 seconds after Colorado's Blake Comeau was penalized for hooking. Evgeny Kuznetsov controlled the puck in the right circle and passed to Marcus Johansson in front for a shot that Varlamov stopped with his pad. The rebound went to Ovechkin, who scored into a half-open net.

Chimera made it 3-0 at 14:16. Mike Richards took a long shot from near the right-wing boards after Avalanche forward John Mitchell turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and Chimera deflected it into the net for his 19th goal.

Video: WSH@COL: Beagle squeezes puck past Varlamov for goal

The Avalanche got on the board when Jarome Iginla scored a power-play goal with 40.2 seconds remaining in the period. After 20 games without a goal, Iginla scored into an open net on the left side after taking a pass from Gabriel Landeskog.

Iginla reached the 20-goal mark for the 17th time in his NHL career and moved ahead of Dino Ciccarelli for sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list with his 609th goal, one behind Bobby Hull.

Colorado made it 3-2 on Landeskog's goal with 5:39 left in the third period when he knocked in the rebound off of Carl Soderberg's shot for his 20th goal.

Video: WSH@COL: Iginla nets PPG for his 20th of the season

T.J. Oshie sealed Washington's win by scoring into an empty net with 9.9 seconds remaining for his 25th goal.

"We just stayed to what we were doing and we did it for 60 minutes," Trotz said. "What did we (hit), five posts? And Varlamov made some key saves. The only reason the game was close was Varlamov and the posts. We could have lit them up tonight. We played really well and (Holtby) gave us some key saves."

The Avalanche lost defenseman Nikita Zadorov to a head injury at 4:10 of the second after he took a hard hit from Capitals forward Tom Wilson.

Video: Capitals set franchise mark for wins with 4-2 win

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