An obvious goal was overturned, a coach’s challenge was lost and a third-period interference penalty briefly knocked out a star center.
Thursday night was a headache for the Washington Capitals, but they held on for a strange, 4-3 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche at Capital One Arena.
Pheonix Copley allowed a soft goal to bounce off his stick and into the net late in the third period, which forced the overtime. But in the final minute of OT, two Avalanche skaters bumped into each other behind their own net, and Evgeny Kuznetsov found an open sheet of ice to scored the breakaway game-winner all alone.
Kuznetsov finished with two goals and an assist and Andre Burakovsky and Matt Niskanen scored Washington’s other goals. Though it wasn’t his best outing, Copley still made 34 saves to improve to 11-5-3 on the year.
Kuznetsov temporarily left the game in the third when Ian Cole dealt him a rough shoulder check. Tom Wilson served a 10-minute misconduct for fighting Cole in Kuznetsov’s defense, but the Colorado blueliner was issued a game misconduct for the offending hit.
The Russian center was in concussion protocol while in the locker room at the request of the league’s concussion spotter, but he was cleared to return.
“That’s the protocol you have to go through,” Kuznetsov said. “I know that sucks for the players but the people are trying to do the right things for us so we have to listen. Even if you feel right right away you have to go. … My job is to play hockey, doctor’s job is to save my life, right, so I have to listen to him.”
Despite the bumpy road, the Capitals earned their 30th win of the year (30-18-6, 66 points) and their third of four since the All-Star Break.
Nicklas Backstrom appeared to score on a first-period power play that would have put Washington up 2-0. Alex Ovechkin shot from his “office” at the left circle and Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov let it leak through his five-hole. Backstrom reached behind him into the crease and tapped it in.
But an official blew his whistle prematurely and a video review overturned the goal.
Yet in the second period, with the game tied at one, an Ovechkin one-timer again popped through Varlamov’s defenses and Kuznetsov was the man there to guide it over the line. This time, it counted.
It was that kind of night for the Capitals. They also challenged Colorado’s first goal, believing a forward was offsides on the zone entry. The officials upheld their original call, which cost the Capitals a delay of game penalty they had to kill off.
“Things are gonna happen that don’t go your way,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “There was more than one tonight that didn’t go our way. But we stayed with our game plan. Frustration was at a very low level on our bench. And that’s what top teams do, is you find ways to get points when things aren’t going our way.”
Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson scored for Colorado.
The Capitals finished with 42 shots on goal, 15 of them coming on power plays.
They return to the ice Saturday night to face the Florida Panthers, the fifth game of a season-high six-game homestand.