- The Washington Times - Friday, October 29, 2021

After being shut out on their first five power-play chances, John Carlson and the Washington Capitals came through on their sixth opportunity Friday night against Arizona. 

With about eight minutes remaining of the scoreless game, Carlson’s wrist shot 41 seconds into the power play was all the Capitals needed to defeat the visiting Coyotes. Alex Ovechkin later sealed the 2-0 victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute.

“I think it was a good job to kind of stick to it,” Carlson said. “I think in situations like that it can be tough to not try to do too much when things are going good and it’s not happening for us. Sometimes it’s going to happen that way, and I think we did a great job throughout the third period to lead us into that power play.”

The goal was Carlson’s second of the season. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin were both credited with assists. 

“You’re hammering away all night, you’re trying to find a goal and make it happen,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette. “It’s easy to get frustrated and start derailing, and I thought that we stayed with it and got a big goal at the end.”

Ovechkin’s empty-netter, which was assisted by Kuznetsov, was the 739th goal of his career, pulling him within two goals of Brett Hull for fourth all-time. 

The 36-year-old in his 17th season leads the NHL with nine goals and is tied for first in points with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid at 15. He’s registered a point in all eight games, which matches the franchise record he set as a rookie in 2005. 

“He’s only done it for [16] other years, too,” quipped Carlson about Ovechkin. “There’s no surprise from us.”

Washington moves to 5-0-3, capping October without losing a game in regulation, and stands alone in second in the Metropolitan Division. The eight-game point streak to start the season is the second-longest in franchise history, only behind the nine-game stretch to open last season. 

“It’s more fun coming into the rink when you’re winning,” Carlson said. “At the beginning of the year, it gets you started on the right foot and makes you hungry for more.”

The Capitals opened the game by outshooting Arizona 14-4 in the first period. But Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka kept the game scoreless, stymying two Capitals power plays. 

Vejmelka, who entered the game with the fifth-worst save percentage in the NHL among goalies with at least five games played (.899), ended the game with 30 saves, as the Capitals outshot the Coyotes 32-16. 

“Their goalie played a good game,” Laviolette said. “You’ve got to give Arizona credit, too, because they played last night and they played hard out there [tonight].”

The low-scoring affair continued in the next period despite Washington, which entered the contest first in the league in second-period goals with 12, garnering three power-play chances. 

On the first power play, Ovechkin smashed four one-timers, but three were stopped by Vejmelka and one was off target. The Capitals then didn’t register a shot on goal during their second power play and squandered their third advantage after three of their five shots were saved by Vejmelka. 

Washington has been up and down on its power plays this season. After scoring three power-play goals in their season-opening win over the New York Rangers, the Capitals didn’t score another in their next five games (15 chances). They snapped that streak Wednesday by scoring twice with the man advantage in their 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit. 

Washington defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk made the defensive play of the game six minutes into the third period when he blocked a Christian Fischer shot that likely would have found the back of the net.

Six minutes later, Carlson scored the game-winning power-play goal after Arizona’s Liam O’Brien was called for holding. 

In his third start of the season, Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov saved all 16 shots for the fourth shutout of his career, and first this season. 

“There wasn’t a lot of work out there, but sometimes those games are even harder to stay in, just to stay focused,” Laviolette said. “Because then all of a sudden you do have to make a big save, so he was good just staying in the game. He made the saves we needed him to make.”

Up next for the Capitals is a two-game road trip in Florida. 

On Monday, Washington takes on the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Capitals 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 16. Then on Thursday, the Capitals visit the undefeated Florida Panthers, who have an interim coach after Joel Quenneville resigned Thursday amid the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual abuse scandal. 

NOTES: In addition to being without Nicklas Backstrom (long-term injured reserve, hip) and T.J. Oshie (injured reserve, lower body), center Nic Dowd was out with a lower-body injury. Dowd missed Monday’s game but returned Wednesday against Detroit and played 12 minutes. … Brett Leason, who was recalled from Hershey on Friday morning after the team placed Oshie on injured reserve, made his NHL debut. … Ovechkin’s assist puts him four shy of 600 in his career. … With two assists, Kuznetsov has four multi-point games this season.

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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