WASHINGTON – The Colorado Avalanche were delighted to get another win on the road, especially after adding two more players to their expansive injury list.
The Washington Capitals felt pretty good about their performance, too, even though their losing streak reached five games.
Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists, Craig Anderson had 40 saves, and the Avalanche won 3-2 on Saturday night to conclude a winless homestand for the struggling Capitals.
Colorado played without right wing Milan Hejduk, who missed his first game this season after hurting his groin in Friday’s win over Atlanta. The Avalanche also lost defenceman Kyle Quincey, who left with an injured shoulder.
And still, Colorado won its second straight road game after dropping four in a row.
“There’s no excuses. For us, we’ve got to find a way to win,” Anderson said. “It gives other guys some opportunities to step up.”
That’s been the cry of the Avalanche, who came in with 352 man-games lost to injury—second-most in the NHL.
“When you’re losing guys and you have different guys all the time, you have to play as a team,” Stastny said.
Washington’s five-game skid is its longest since a five-game slide in November 2007. After losing in Dallas on Dec. 2, the Capitals dropped four successive home games by a combined score of 14-7.
This one, however, had a different feel to it. Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau had harsh words for his players after Thursday night’s 3-0 loss to Florida, but he had no problem with their effort against the Avalanche.
“We’re going to build off this and go. It’s a different feeling in the room,” Boudreau said. “There’s disappointment because you gave the effort and didn’t come away with (a win). But I’m hoping other than the two points, they’re taking a positive aspect out of this game.”
That’s precisely how the Capitals felt after taking 42 shots, getting their sputtering power play on track and remaining in position to win right down to the final second.
“You’re going to have those nights,” said Matt Hendricks, who had a goal and an assist. “You play like that every night, you’re going to win more games than you’re going to lose. That’s the good thing. That leaves a good feeling and something to build from.”
Washington began its longest homestand of the season with a 12-1-1 record at Verizon Center. The Capitals are 4-8 overall since Nov. 17.
Boudreau blamed this defeat on three bad plays, including two poor shift changes.
“We made three mistakes and they scored three goals, which is what happens when you’re not playing well or you’re in a slump or something,” he said. “When you’re playing good you get away with all these little mistakes.”
Rookie Kevin Shattenkirk contributed a goal and an assist, and Ryan Wilson got his first goal of the season to help the Avalanche earn their third win in nine games.
Colorado led 2-1 when Washington’s Alexander Semin, the team leader in goals, received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for cross-checking John-Michael Liles at 6:07 of the second period. At 9:53, Shattenkirk sent a pass across the crease to Stastny, who easily scored from the left side for a two-goal cushion.
“It’s a one-goal game and they score on that five-minute power play,” Boudreau lamented. “That’s the difference.”
Hendricks got the Capitals to 3-2 with a power-play goal at 4:30 of the third period. Hendricks, who played 60 games with Colorado the past two seasons, scored on a shot from the slot between his legs and with his back to the net.
After going 0-for-8 on the power play on Thursday night, Washington went 1 for 3 against Colorado. But the Capitals are 13-2-2 when scoring a power-play goal.
The Avalanche took only five shots in the third period, but effectively tended to business in the defensive end.
Shattenkirk and Wilson scored goals around one by Washington’s Mike Knuble to give Colorado a 2-1 lead after the first period. It was the 250th of Knuble’s career.
Notes: Capitals D Mike Green was scratched because of the flu. … Tomas Fleischmann of Colorado and Scott Hannan of the Capitals faced their former teammates for the first time since being traded for each other 11 days earlier.