Coyotes give up three straight goals in loss to Capitals
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin recorded his 30th goal of the season and Daniel Winnik scored two goals, including the game-winner late in the third period, as the Washington Capitals overcame listless stretches to beat the lowly Arizona Coyotes 4-1 on Saturday night.
Ovechkin became the third player in league history to score 30-plus goals in each of his first 12 seasons, joining Mike Gartner (15) and Wayne Gretzky (13).
Winnik scored with 4:39 remaining, Justin Williams added another goal not long and Winnik sealed the Capitals’ fourth consecutive victory with an empty-netter.
Braden Holtby made 28 saves for Washington, which has won five of six to reach an NHL-leading 106 points and keep pace atop the competitive Metropolitan Division. The Capitals are three points up on the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Mike Smith stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced and Peter Holland scored the lone goal for Arizona.
With Barry Trotz aware of the trap of facing the 29th-place Coyotes, the coach said every game is a must-win until the Capitals secure the playoff spot they’d like. They had 16 of the first 19 shots in the game, but had only Ovechkin’s goal 8:31 in to show for it.
As his teammates slowly got into the game, Smith kept the Coyotes in it with saves like his sliding stop on Kevin Shattenkirk on a 2-on-0 rush. Holland broke up Holtby’s shutout bid 12:29 into the third period, but the deep Capitals turned it on when it mattered to avoid what would’ve been a troubling loss.
In the process, they set a franchise record with their 31st home victory of the season, surpassing the number they had in 1985-86 and 2009-10. Holtby also set the franchise record for most home victories by a goaltender in a season.
NOTES: Coyotes captain Shane Doan missed his fifth consecutive game with a lower-body injury, but could be nearing a return. With the 40-year-old potentially facing retirement, he called the injury absence “really frustrating,” especially this close to the end of the season. … These teams meet again Friday in Glendale, their second and final meeting. … Winnik tied his career high with his 11th goal of the season. … With his 48th point, Capitals F Marcus Johansson set a career high.
Coyotes: Wrap up their five-game road trip Monday at the St. Louis Blues
Capitals: Begin a season-high five-game road trip Tuesday at the reeling Minnesota Wild, who have lost 10 of their past 13.