Ovechkin, Capitals chase Bernier, overwhelm Red Wings
Washington, D.C. — Those losses in Boston and Montreal early this season were ugly — games the Red Wings still regard as low points.
This one Tuesday was of the same feel for the Red Wings — for most of the night.
The defending Stanley Cup-champion Washington Capitals looked every bit the part Tuesday, dismantling the Wings 6-2 at Capital One Arena.
For what it’s worth, though, those final 20 minutes weren’t nearly as ugly as the Montreal or Boston games.
And the Wings made sure of addressing that after the second period.
“We talked about that last time we were in that spot, in Boston, we started cheating like crazy and lost our game and next thing you know you had to dig yourself out,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We did the same thing in Montreal and you’re digging yourself out.
“We felt it was important to go out and play the right way and for the most part, we did a decent job.
The Wings were never really in this one, as Washington scored three goals in the first period, two more in the second to chase goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and cruised through the final 20 minutes.
But goals from Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist, along with outshooting the Capitals 18-8 — yes, Washington likely took its foot off the pedal — the Wings stuck it out.
“Would have liked to seen it earlier,” Larkin said. “But we didn’t quit.
“We brought up that Boston game, and going to Montreal. We needed to make sure our details were pointing the right way.”
Still, make no mistake about it, the Wings were second-best team on the ice.
Finishing a stretch of seven games in 11 days, the Wings looked mentally and physically spent at times.
“Lots of games, without question,” Blashill said. “That’s the schedule and we have to find a way to play the schedule better than we did tonight.”
Larkin scored his 13th goal early in the third period, cutting the lead to 5-1. Larkin’s goal ended Washington goaltender Braden Holtby’s shutout streak at 102 minutes, 28 seconds.
Nyquist scored his eighth goal late in the third period.
Alex Ovechkin had three goals for the Capitals, pushing his NHL-leading total to 25, and Brett Connolly (power play), Travis Boyd and T.J. Oshie (power play) added Washington goals. Nicklas Backstrom had four assists.
Ovechkin banked a shot off Niklas Kronwall’s skate in the first period, giving Washington a 3-0 lead and giving an indication of what kind of night it was going to be for him, Washington, and the Wings.
“That was a tough one, going well wide and just the kind of night he was having,” said Larkin of Ovechkin’s first goal. “They were getting puck luck and we were fighting it.
“Just the way it went tonight.”
Bernier only stopped five of 15 shots before being pulled after Oshie’s goal made it 5-0 at 10:06 of the second period. Jimmy Howard relieved Bernier.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a 5-0 game where the goalie had as a little chance as he had on those five goals,” Blashill said. “He had no chance.”
The Wings fell back to 14-14-4 (32 points), having won twice in the last six games (2-3-1). Washington (18-9-3, 39 points) has won 10 of 12 games.
The Capitals have earned points in 10 consecutive points (8-0-2) against the Wings.
“Our game wasn’t as good as it needs to be,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “We have to make sure everybody is on board and doing their job, do your job and not someone else’s.
“We didn’t win enough puck battles, we weren’t above guys enough, gave them odd-man rushes. We have to make sure the details in our game are real good.”