The Colorado Avalanche opened their five-game road trip with a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday night. Alex Ovechkin scored his 74th career game-winning goal and Braden Holtby stopped 31-of-32 shots to lead the Capitals (23-11-8) to victory.

Ovechkin also registered the game-winner when the clubs first met this season on Nov. 20 in Denver.

It was the sixth straight home win for the Capitals – who have earned at least one point in 17 of their last 18 games.

The loss snapped a season-long three-game winning streak for the Avalanche (18-17-8).

Defenseman Nick Holden played in his 100th NHL game for Colorado.

The Capitals took a 1-0 lead at 7:34 of the first period. Jay Beagle won the offensive zone faceoff cleanly, drove the net, and backhanded Tom Wilson’s rebound past Semyon Varlamov from the slot.

Midway through the second period, Jarome Iginla drove deep around the defense and sent a pass through the slot to Alex Tanguay, who one-timed a shot then one-timed his own rebound past Braden Holtby to even the score at 1-1 with his team-leading 13th goal. Iginla and Tanguay are tied for the club lead with 28 points each.

Varlamov made 36 saves in another impressive effort, but he also took a costly penalty that the Capitals took advantage of for the game-winning goal in the second period. Varlamov retaliated with a glove to Tom Wilson’s face after Wilson gave Varlamov one too many shots while he was freezing the puck.

“That was a [expletive] call,” coach Patrick Roy said. “If you’re asking me, it was a [expletive] call. The guy gives two whacks to him, and Varly responded. Take both guys out.”

The Avalanche penalty killers left Ovechkin wide open on the ensuing power play and the superstar buried a wrist shot.

“Ovie was in a good position, and we all know he has a great shot,” said Varlamov. “It was a perfect shot, right between my legs.”

The Avalanche were outshot 32-14 in the first 40 minutes, but bounced back with an 18-6 shooting advantage in the closing period.

“We had to respond, obviously we were not happy about the second period,” coach Roy said.” We had to have a better third and I thought our effort was there in the third and obviously we just couldn’t find a way to score that big goal to tie the game. We had a lot of good chances and their goalie made some good saves.”

The Avs will continue their five-game road trip Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes – Calvin Pickard is scheduled to start the game.

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