WASHINGTON – The Colorado Avalanche beat Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at both ends of the ice.
Ryan Smyth had a goal and two assists, and Andrew Raycroft made 28 saves in Colorado’s 4-1 victory over Washington on Friday night. Colorado won its third straight to give coach Tony Granato his 100th career victory. The Avalanche also ended Washington’s winning streak at three, and snapped Ovechkin’s consecutive-games points streak at 10.
The Avalanche slowed down Ovechkin and the Capitals, clogging the neutral zone.
“It’s something we’ve emphasized all year, but we’ve really emphasized in the last week – coming back through the neutral zone, in the middle, making stops and making it tough on teams,” Smyth said.
“They’ve got talent, they’ve got speed and they’ve got some creativity, so it’s important that five guys have to beat five guys.”
The Capitals had only two partial power plays all night.
“We did a great job,” Raycroft said. “I think we took two penalties, both with 30 seconds left on our own. When you don’t let them have five or six power plays, it makes a big difference.”
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau agreed that the Avalanche’s defence led the way, but also thought his team’s own lack of discipline helped Colorado.
Boudreau pulled no punches and said this game was just “a stinker.”
“We knew they were going to be strong defensively, and they were really going to clog the middle and forecheck and play off of our turnovers,” Boudreau said. “I give (Colorado) credit.
“They played their game to a ‘T.”‘
Adam Foote added a goal and an assist, and Tyler Arnason and Wojtek Wolski also scored for the Avalanche. Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington.
The Capitals are 7-10-0 against Western Conference teams, and 30-7-5 against Eastern Conference foes. In addition, Western Conference teams have handed Washington (23-5-1) four of its home losses.
The Caps hurt their own cause by missing on several scoring chances.
Staffan Kronwall fired wide on an open net after getting a first-period rebound, and Alexander Semin was stopped on a second-period breakaway.
Smyth opened the scoring with 9:33 left in the first period, stuffing the puck under Jose Theodore’s skate as the goalie tried to seal off the left post.
Backstrom tied it with 14.6 seconds remaining in the period, taking a quick crossing pass from Tomas Fleischmann and firing a shot that deflected off the post.
Colorado took the lead for good with 12:14 to go in the second period on Foote’s goal from in front.
The Avalanche stretched it to 3-1 when Arnason scored early in the third period after a Washington turnover in its own zone. Wolski got the final goal as Colorado scored twice in the third period despite taking only five shots.
“We came in and played a team that we had a lot of respect for,” Granato said. “We had to be at our best. Today, from start to finish,(it) was probably as solid a game as we’ve played all year.”
Notes: Washington has scored first-period goals in 11 consecutive games. … The Avalanche are 18-0-0 when they lead after two periods.