Capitals Crunch Avalanche, 6-3; Evgeny Kuznetsov Strikes Twice

Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 6-3 at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night to finish their season-opening three-game homestand with a record of 2-0-1. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves in his 2021-22 regular-season debut.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Avalanche

Graphic: @Capitals

Center Nicklas Backstrom missed his third straight game due to a hip injury. McMichael replaced center Hendrix Lapierre in the lineup. In addition to the goalie switch, the Capitals made no other lineup changes. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin played in his 1200th career NHL game while right-wing Garnet Hathaway played in his 300th.

Avalanche left-wing Gabriel Landeskog served the final game of a two-game suspension. Center Nathan MacKinnon made his 2021-22 regular-season debut after testing negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday. He tested positive for the virus on October 12 and missed the team’s first two games.

First Period

Center Evgeny Kuznetsov snuck behind the Avalanche defense and went five hole on goaltender Darcy Kuemper after defenseman John Carlson sent him down the middle to give the Capitals the lead 6:15 in.

After an attempted pass from Kuznetsov to left-wing Anthony Mantha through the neutral zone was ripped off by Avalanche left-wing J.T. Compher, he raced through the offensive zone, faught off Kuznetsov on his back, and roofed one to the top corner on Samsonov to tie it on the penalty kill at 13:46.

Defenseman Nick Jensen ripped one past Kuemper’s glove from the lower right dot on a give-and-go with defenseman Dmitry Orlov after the two broke out on a three-on-one rush alongside Ovechkin from the offensive zone to retake the lead for the Capitals with 3:07 left.

The Capitals led 17-7 in shots, 9-6 in hits, and won 52% of the draws in the first.

The Avalanche led 4-3 in blocked shots and had no giveaways while the Capitals had four after one.

Each team was each credited with three takeaways and did not score on one power play through 20 minutes.

Second Period

Left-wing Darren Helm wristed one past the blocker of Samsonov from the slot after right-wing Logan O’Connor circled the offensive zone and fed him from the right side to tie it 3:12 into the period.

Mantha tapped home a loose puck at the doorstep after he deflected center Lars Eller’s shot to his skates and gave the Capitals the lead back with 5:13 to go. It marked the 27-year-old’s 100th career NHL goal.

Kuznetsov ripped one past the blocker of Kuemper after getting a feed from right-wing Tom Wilson from up top and turning back from the slot to the right dot to make it 4-2 Capitals 1:54 later.

The Capitals led 27-13 in shots, 17-8 in hits, won 55% of the draws, and did not score on their lone power play of the first two periods.

The Avalanche led 8-6 in blocked shots, had five giveaways while the Capitals had six, and failed to convert on two opportunities on the man advantage through 40 minutes.

Each team recorded eight second-period shots and six giveaways through two.

Third Period

Center Nic Dowd pounced on a rebound off of Jensen’s shot from the slot at the side of the goal blocker-side to extend the Capitals’ lead to 5-2 39 seconds into the third.

Right-wing Mikko Rantanen one-timed a shot from the right dot that beat Samsonov after getting a feed by MacKinnon from the slot to pull the Avalanche within two on the power play with 3:06 left.

Ovechkin added an empty-net goal from the slot in the defensive zone off of a draw to double up the lead with 2:21 remaining. It marked his fourth goal this season.

The Capitals led 39-27 in shots, 9-6 in takeaways, 20-15 in hits, won 55% of the draws, and did not score on three power plays.

The Avalanche led 14-12 in third-period shots, 14-11 in blocked shots, went one-for-four in the and had five giveaways while the Capitals had eight.

Next game: at New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington)

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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