With all eyes on Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, who entered Thursday two goals shy of the 700 club, it was a blown two-goal lead from the Avalanche that made headlines.
Colorado (36-17-6) scored twice in the first period but was unable to solve goaltender Brayden Holtby the rest of the way and the Capitals scored three unanswered goals — two on the power play — to win 3-2 at the Pepsi Center.
Ovechkin was on the ice for Washington’s power-play goals. He was held pointless despite having the third most power-play goals in NHL history (259).
Former Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky and his new linemate Mikko Rantanen scored to send Colorado into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. But the Capitals took control of the penalty-filled affair as the game continued, and scored twice in the final 7:12 of the third period to end the Avalanche’s five-game winning streak.
Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson scored on the man advantage to erase the two-goal deficit. Teammate T.J. Oshie added the game-winning tally at even-strength with 2:04 remaining on the Capitals 19th shot of the third period.
“You should expect it from other teams to come and push,” Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov said. “We should be ready for it. They became desperate when they were one goal behind. They got a second goal, they got their emotion back, they got their jump. We should be ready to play.”
He added: “They have a dangerous power play and we give up five (power plays), that’s unacceptable. It’s not part of our game plan. They were pushing in the third, we sat back, lost every battle in our zone and they won the game.”
Colorado was the better team at the outset. Burakovsky, who had dinner with many of his former teammates Wednesday, one-timed a feed from center Nathan MacKinnon past Holtby for the game’s first goal 2:54 into the first period. Burakovsky’s career-high 18th goal was his fifth in nine games.
The Avs added to their lead on the power play when Rantanen beat Holtby with a wrist shot to make it 2-0. Colorado failed to score on its remaining three opportunities, including 1:00 on a 5-on-3 in the second period.
“We had lots of chances through the first 40 minutes, plenty of chances,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “We had plenty of opportunities to extend our lead but their goalie played good. As did ours.”
Philipp Grubauer held the Capitals to one goal through 40 minutes. But that changed on Washington’s fifth power play when Wilson tipped a point shot past his former teammate.
The loss is the Avalanche’s first at home in five games. But the focus now shifts to Falcon Stadium and the Stadium Series game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Colorado, hosting its second outdoor game in four years, will play two more games at the Pepsi Center following the outdoor game before heading out on the road.
“We got a game on Saturday that we have to focus on,” Zadorov said. “The good thing about this league is you don’t sit for the week and think about a loss. You got a chance to go back out there a couple days later and get back to your winning habits.”
Colorado had not lost in regulation at home since a 7-4 defeat to Winnipeg on New Years Eve. … The Avs scored the first goal of the game for the 36th time this season. They are 25-6-5 in those games. … Burakovsky, who assisted on Rantanen’s goal, finished with two points against his former squad. The Austrian-born forward raised mostly in Sweden is second in scoring behind MacKinnon, surpassing defenseman Cale Makar. … Former Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg was in attendance. Forsberg had dinner with Capitals Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom on Wednesday.
- Tom Wilson: Washington’s top-line winger scored the game-tying goal on the power play. Wilson drew two penalties and had four shots in 20:28.
- Brayden Holtby: The Capitals goaltender was solid after allowing two goals. Holtby made 23 saves in the final 40 minutes.
- Andre Burakovsky: Despite the loss, he played a vital role in Colorado’s hot start. This was Burakovsky’s 13th multi-point game of the season.
Colorado and Los Angeles will faceoff in the NHL’s third and final outdoor game of the season (6 p.m., Falcon Stadium, NBC).