Wild fall in shootout
WASHINGTON — With both teams riding three-game winning streaks, something had to give when the Minnesota Wild took on the Washington Capitals on Thursday night in the nation’s capital.
It took more than 65 minutes and a shootout to decide it, but the Capitals skated away with a 3-2 victory when center Nicklas Backstrom snapped a wrist shot past past Wild goaltender Josh Harding for the only goal of the shootout.
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 33 of 35 shots, along with all three Minnesota shooters in the shootout, to post his seventh win of the season and extend the Caps’ winning streak to four games.
The Capitals are 4-0 in shootouts this season and 7-0 in two seasons under coach Adam Oates. The Wild had their three-game winning streak snapped and are 0-3 in shootouts this season.
Harding stopped center Mikhail Grabovski and right winger Alex Ovechkin in the shootout before Backstrom threaded a shot just inside the left post. Holtby stopped Jason Pominville and Saku Koivu before denying Charlie Coyle on his first career shootout attempt to win the game.
The Capitals sent the game into overtime when center Marcus Johansson scored his second goal of the season with 3:08 remaining in regulation to tie it 2-2. Ovechkin had the other goal for the Caps.
Johansson took a pass from rookie right winger Tom Wilson and snapped a shot that appeared to go off Wild defenseman Nate Prosser and behind Josh Harding, who had stopped 23 of 24 shots before Johansson’s goal.
Johansson’s goal came minutes after the Capitals’ league-leading power play failed to convert on a man-advantage.
The Wild, who received goals from Coyle and center Mikail Granlund, had their own chance to win the game in regulation when Capitals left winger Martin Erat went off for interference with 57.6 seconds remaining. The Wild generated four shots but could not crack the NHL’s No. 1 penalty killing unit, forcing the game to a shootout.
The Wild fell behind early but controlled the play through most of the first two periods and were rewarded with a 2-1 lead on a busted play 6:07 into the second period.
Minnesota right winger Nino Niederreiter rumbled hard around the Capitals’ net, slicing through Washington defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner to get the puck to right winger Pominville. The Wild’s leading goal scorer centered a pass to Granlund, who shot the puck just as Carlson was trying to clear it. Granlund got more of the puck than Carlson and it beat Holtby past his left shoulder.
The two teams entered the game with the NHL’s top two power plays and each scored first-period goals on the man-advantage.
The Capitals, ranked first overall, drew first blood when, with Prosser in the box for cross-checking, Ovechkin buried a cross-crease feed from Backstrom for his 13th goal of the season and league-high seventh on the power play.
The Wild entered the game ranked second on the man-advantage and knotted the score with 2:09 remaining in the opening period on Coyle’s first goal of the season. Coyle was cruising through the slot when Wild left winger Zach Parise cut to the goal and knifed a backhand pass to him. Coyle’s shot trickled in off the outstretched glove of Holtby.
Notes: Backstrom’s three-assist night on Tuesday was the 23rd of his career. He is tied for seventh among active players in three-assist games, trailing Jaromir Jagr (57), Joe Thornton (53), Sidney Crosby (36), Teemu Selanne (30), Henrik Sedin (30), and Daniel Alfredsson (24). ... Half of Ovechkin’s 44 goals in the past two seasons were on the power play. ... Thursday night’s game was just the 13th meeting between the two teams. It’s the fewest games against any team in the NHL for the Capitals. ... Thursday’s game began a stretch in which the Wild play six of seven games against Eastern Conference opponents. The Wild close out a two-game road trip in Carolina on Saturday, then return home for games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets. The Capitals hit the road for weekend games against the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche. They return home Tuesday night to face Columbus.