WASHINGTON – The Washington Capitals are slowly starting to look like last season’s team that posted the NHL’s best record.
Andrew Gordon had a goal and assist for his first two NHL points, and the Capitals earned their second straight victory by beating the New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Washington is enjoying a winning streak after snapping an eight-game losing streak with a victory at Ottawa on Sunday. Five players scored Tuesday and 12 earned points for the Capitals, who jumped back over Atlanta into first place in the Southeast Division.
The Capitals took command with three goals in a 6:31 span of the second period. Washington has eight goals in two games after the offence lacked punch during the losing streak.
“I think winning rejuvenates guys,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s a much happier locker room the last couple of games, so that’s good.”
John Carlson added a goal and an assist, and Michal Neuvirth made 35 saves.
The Devils (9-22-2), who have the second-worst record in the NHL, dropped their ninth straight road game and third overall.
Washington’s recent call-ups from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League all contributed. In addition to Gordon, Jay Beagle also scored his first goal this season, and Mathieu Perreault played another strong game.
“That’s what we were saying, a lot of Bears on board there,” Carlson said. “Any time you can play good and contribute, it’s really good.”
Gordon certainly enjoyed his first goal—even giving linemate Marcus Johansson a kiss on the cheek on the bench to the delight of the sold-out crowd. He later added an assist during the second-period spurt.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders,” Gordon said. “I came here wanting to contribute and show I could do it up here. I’ve had a couple of opportunities the last few games but finally got a nice one to squeak through on a great pass.”
New Jersey got even at 1 when Patrik Elias scored a power-play goal 4:56 of the second period, but the Capitals took then took over. The Devils have scored only 10 goals in seven games.
Washington took command during a stretch of 6:31 in the second period when Beagle, Jason Chimera and Carlson scored to make it 4-1. Mike Knuble netted the final goal for the Capitals.
Washington won at home for the first time since beating Carolina on Nov. 28.
The Capitals have been one of the NHL’s best home teams the past few seasons, but had dropped five straight in Washington.
Gordon gave Washington a 1-0 lead. Johansson sent a perfect pass from the left boards that Gordon redirected past goalie Martin Brodeur with 3:19 left in the first.
The Capitals hope Johansson will become a play-maker, but the rookie centre has only two other assists this season.
Beagle scored his second career goal—first this season—off a pass from David Steckel at 10:00.
Chimera made it 3-1 with a breakaway goal at 12:39 of the period, beating Brodeur as Devils defenceman Mark Fayne hung all over him. Gordon earned an assist.
Carlson scored the final goal of that stretch, picking up a loose puck that Alex Ovechkin lost near the high slot and firing a shot past Brodeur with 3:29 left in the period.
“It’s not getting better,” Devils coach John MacLean said. “It’s frustrating. We had some opportunities. We did work hard, but we made some mistakes against a team that capitalizes on mistakes.”
NOTES: Eric Fehr missed the game for Washington to attend the funeral of his grandmother. … Ovechkin earned one assist. … Dainius Zubrus was originally credited with New Jersey’s goal, but it was changed to Elias. … Brodeur’s next game will be the 1,100th of his NHL career He finished with 23 saves.