WASHINGTON — John Carlson scored a long-awaited power-play goal, Alex Ovechkin added an empty-netter and the Washington Capitals beat Arizona 2-0 Friday night, handing the Coyotes their eighth consecutive loss to start the season.
Carlson’s goal with 7:58 left in the third period was Washington‘s third in 25 opportunities on the power play dating to opening night. The Capitals came up empty on their first five power-play chances against Arizona before breaking through.
They outshot the Coyotes 32-16, but struggled to create quality scoring chances, let alone score on first-year NHL goaltender Karel Vejmelka before Carlson’s shot deflected in off a penalty-killer. Vejmelka, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic, finished with 30 saves, including a few notable stops at even strength to give Arizona a puncher’s chance at its first victory of the season.
But the Capitals skated circles around their overmatched opponent, and eventually the talent disparity came through. Ovechkin’s goal in the final minute was his league-leading ninth of the season and 739th of his career, two shy of Brett Hull for fourth on the all-time list.
Playing its first game without injured winger T.J. Oshie and still missing top center Nicklas Backstrom, Washington avoided back-to-back losses and still has not lost in regulation this season.
Rebuilding Arizona fell to 0-8-1 and remained last in the league standings with one point. With 2018 Stanley Cup-winning fan favorite Jay Beagle returning to town, the Coyotes put quite the scare into the Capitals before falling short.
Making his third start of the season, Ilya Samsonov stopped all 16 shots he faced to pick up the fourth shutout of his NHL career.
NOTES: Brett Leason made his NHL debut for the Capitals in the absence of Nic Dowd, who aggravated a lower-body injury at the morning skate. … With Leason in, Washington dressed a lineup with four rookies for the first time since April 7, 2018. … Former Capitals prospect Travis Boyd was a healthy scratch for Arizona to make room for veteran Swede Loui Eriksson.
Coyotes: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon for stop No. 4 of their six-game road trip, still looking to give rookie coach Andre Tourigny his first NHL victory.
Capitals: Visit the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night for the start of two-game swing in Florida.
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