Capitals keep up strong play with 3-1 win over Red Wings

WASHINGTON (AP) Shortly after earning a selection for his second NHL All-Star game, Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard left the ice on a stretcher.

Howard left with a groin injury after Troy Brouwer's goal just 1:53 into the game, Washington's Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots and the Capitals beat the Red Wings 3-1 Saturday night.

''He'll go back (to Detroit) and get tested and we'll see what happens,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Howard. ''Obviously he was in great pain.''

Jonathan Ericsson scored his first goal of the season for Detroit, and Petr Mrazek made 12 saves in relief of Howard.

''Both goalies were good,'' Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg said after the Red Wings fell to 2-2 on their six-game road trip. ''Petr came in and played well and made some huge saves in the third period to keep us in it.''

John Carlson and Joel Ward added second period goals for Washington, which improved to 12-1-4 in its last 17 games.

Hotlby, who picked up his 20th win of the season, was making his 18th straight start and has appeared in 24 consecutive games.

Washington finished with just 17 shots on goal, and Alex Ovechkin's consecutive games with a goal streak ended at five, but the Capitals still built a 3-0 lead midway through the second period.

''They like to come with the puck through the middle with speed, and I thought we did a good job with just keeping the entire game on the walls,'' Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ''Really clogging things up in the right areas.''

Howard was carried off after Brouwer's power-play goal. After Washington dumped the puck in, Howard stopped it behind the net and started back around front, but Brouwer got to the puck first. As Brouwer stuffed the puck in on Howard's right for his 12th of the season, Howard stretched across the crease trying to make the save.

He remained down on his stomach as the trainer came out. After about five minutes, Howard rose to his knees and was taken off.

Carlson capped off a pretty passing play at 1:35 of the second. Nicklas Backstrom crossed the blue line and sent the puck to Andre Burakovsky in the right circle. Burakovsky fed it to Carlson who had just crossed the blue line and he scored on a slap shot to make it 2-0.

''I thought we gave them the first goal and even the second goal goes right through the middle of us,'' Babcock said.

Washington, winners of five straight at home, extended the lead at 11:39 of the period when Ward controlled a bouncing puck in the slot with and man on him and fired past Mrazek for his 11th goal.

Ericsson's blast through traffic got Detroit on the board with 12 seconds left in the second period.

''I think earlier in the season when that would have happened to us, you would feel a tension in the (locker) room,'' Washington coach Barry Trotz said. ''I didn't feel any tension in the room.''

Detroit got 15 shots on Holtby over the final 20 minutes, but couldn't get closer.

''Thought we did lots of good things,'' Babcock said. ''We had the puck a ton and we shot the puck a ton. They blocked lots of shots.''

NOTES: Howard was the only Detroit player chosen for the All-Star game on Jan. 25 in Columbus, Ohio. ... Ovechkin, named to his sixth All-Star contest, was Washington's lone selection. ... The Capitals improved to 21-1-3 when scoring first. ... Washington recalled D Steven Oleksy from Hershey of the AHL and re-assigned D Nate Schmidt to Hershey.

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