Capitals score 4 in first, beat Avalanche 7-3
WASHINGTON (AP) After the Washington Capitals snapped a streak of nine games without scoring first, they weren't about to stop at one goal.
Alex Ovechkin got his 10th goal of the season, one of four in the first period, and the Capitals went on to a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.
''That was a focus this morning, let's get a lead,'' said Capitals coach Barry Trotz, whose team went 5-3-1 in its stretch of not scoring first. ''We want this building to be a tough place to play We want it to (be known) that if you come in here, you're in for a battle.''
Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists before adding his seventh goal of the season in a three-goal third period that helped Washington improve to 6-0 in games after a loss.
The Capitals also got goals from four defensemen - one each from John Carlson, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov and Karl Alzner - while scoring seven for the second time this season.
''With the skill that we have on the back end, there's no reason not to jump in the rush sometimes,'' Carlson said. ''Sometimes, not even touching the puck, if you're in the rush, you're doing something.''
Washington now has 11 goals by defensemen.
''That's been a philosophy,'' Trotz said. ''Teams are so good at tracking that if you don't get your defense involved either on transitional plays or beating forwards up the ice, or in terms of movement ... then it's harder to score. You've got to beat a lot of people 1-on-1.''
Jason Chimera had two of his three assists in the third, and Ovechkin also registered one in the final period.
Colorado goaltender Reto Berra gave up four goals for the third straight game and was replaced after the first period by Calvin Pickard. Colorado coach Patrick Roy indicated that he expects No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov to return from a groin injury on Monday at Winnipeg.
''Our goalie was not at his best tonight,'' Roy said of Berra, who has started seven straight games while Varlamov has been out. ''It was a tough task for him in some ways, because he played a lot of games for us lately.
Nathan MacKinnon scored his ninth goal of the season and Andreas Martinsen got his first NHL goal late for the Avalanche, who allowed seven goals for the first time this season.
''In a 7-3 game, it doesn't really matter,'' said the Norwegian Martinsen, a rookie who previously played professionally in Europe. ''Now the first one is out of the way, and hopefully there is more coming.
Washington's four-goal period was its first since January, and began when Justin Williams scored just over three minutes in and moments after the Capitals' power play expired.
Ovechkin doubled the lead off Nicklas Backstrom's pass from behind the goal line, squeezing his effort beneath Berra.
The goal was the 485th of Ovechkin's career, coming a game after his 484th set a new all-time NHL record for Russian-born players.
John Carlson's deflected shot from the point made it 3-0 as it skidded into a net left open after Berra slipped defending a previous shot on the left post. Schmidt made it 4-0 during a 4-on-4, reaching a loose puck in the left face-off circle and beating Berra high over his blocker.
NOTES: Colorado C Matt Duchene's assist on MacKinnon's goal marked the 200th of his career and ran his points streak to six games (6 goals, 6 assists). ... Carlson's goal moved him even with Rod Langway at 202 points with Washington, tied for eighth all-time among the franchise's defensemen. ... The start of third period was delayed briefly while the goal lights behind Washington G Braden Holtby's crease continued flashing. ... Washington LW Andre Burakovsky was a healthy scratch.