WASHINGTON – The Washington Capitals scored early and late in regulation before turning toward goaltender Braden Holtby, who sealed a satisfying comeback victory.
Holtby had 33 saves, then blanked the Minnesota in a shootout as Washington beat the Wild 3-2 to extend its winning streak to four games.
After Holtby helped squelch a Minnesota power play that extended into overtime, Nicklas Backstrom scored the only goal in the shootout to secure the Capitals’ fourth straight home win.
Holtby outplayed Wild goalie Josh Harding, who came in with an NHL-best 1.09 goals-against average and stopped 25 shots.
“He made a couple of saves that I was like, ‘Wow, incredible,'” Backstrom said of Holtby.
Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal at 8:10 of the first period on Washington’s second shot of the game, and the Capitals didn’t beat Harding again until Marcus Johansson forced overtime with a blast from the right circle at 16:52 of the third period.
The shot came only minutes after Harding made several outstanding saves with Washington on the power play.
“I thought we did a really good job killing that, but it really put us on our heels,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “After that, it seemed like we were hemmed in our end.”
The Wild had the extra man for the final 57 seconds of regulation and the opening 1:03 of overtime, but could not convert.
After two players from each side failed to score in the shootout, Backstrom beat Harding with a wrist shot that went into the upper left corner of the net. Holtby then denied Charlie Coyle to win it.
Coyle and Mikael Granlund scored in regulation for the Wild, whose three-game winning streak ended.
“The result wasn’t there because they got that one (goal) late,” Minnesota forward Matt Cooke said. “It’s frustrating. You go out and do your part and guys are blocking shots and guys are taking hits to make plays, and the result’s not there. At the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses.”
Granlund put Minnesota up 2-1 at 6:07 of the second period with his second goal of the season. Jason Pominville controlled a rebound on the side of the net and passed to Granlund, who sent a fluttering shot past Holtby’s left shoulder.
Later in the period, Washington rookie Tom Wilson broke free down the left side. Harding kept his ground and plucked the shot out of the air with his glove.
The Capitals came into the game with an NHL-leading 26 goals in the second period, but in this one they went scoreless on nine shots.
In the third period, however, Washington got the pivotal goal.
“What I liked about the tying goal is it took a lot of hard work,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We fought through a lot of frustration because they were giving you nothing. It was hard to get shots to the net.”
The Wild outshot the Capitals 12-5 in a first period that produced one power-play goal from each team.
Less than 20 seconds after Minnesota’s Nate Prosser was sent to the penalty box for cross checking, Ovechkin scored from the left circle off a pass from Backstrom at 8:10.
It was the third power-play goal in two games for Ovechkin, who needs only four more to break Peter Bondra’s franchise record of 137.
Coyle scored against the league’s most effective penalty-killing unit with just over two minutes left in the period. Zach Parise got an assist on the play to extend his point-scoring streak to four games.
Notes: Washington improved to 4-0 in shootouts. … Minnesota D Keith Ballard was scratched with an upper body injury, and is also expected to miss Saturday’s game in Carolina. … Capitals F Eric Fehr was a healthy scratch for a second straight game. … This was only the second time in the Wild’s seven games in Washington that they scored more than one goal.