NHL-leading Capitals beat Knights for 6th consecutive win

WASHINGTON (AP) The bird is back, and the Capitals keep soaring.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his sixth goal of the season and unleashed his famous flapping bird celebration for the first time this season to help Washington beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 Saturday night in a meeting of the 2018 Stanley Cup finalists. The Capitals have won six in a row and 10 of 11 and are chugging along as the top team in the NHL.

''We're working together as a team,'' said Nicklas Backstrom, who scored twice. ''We're doing all the details right. We're trying to follow the system that the coaches want us to play. I feel like when you have confidence like we have - we've been winning a couple games in a row now - we're just trying to keep going here and get better every day. So far, so good.''

After being far more serious in his post-goal demeanor since returning from a three-game suspension for inappropriate conduct, Kuznetsov finally let loose after scoring 58 seconds in and added an assist in the third period on the goal that sealed the win. Why now?

''I don't know,'' Kuznetsov said. ''I think it stays inside.''

It's easy for Kuznetsov and the Capitals to feel good right now. They haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 14 and are on a roll thanks to a mix of scoring from their best players, special teams success and solid goaltending, and all three of those elements were on display against Vegas.

Tom Wilson beat Marc-Andre Fleury for his eighth of the season, Jonas Siegenthaler scored the first of his NHL career and Backstrom had a power-play goal in the third. Goaltender Braden Holtby made nine of his 30 saves on the penalty kill when the Golden Knights had some of their best chances.

''They got a good power play, obviously,'' Holtby said. ''I thought our guys did a good job. It was a good challenge. We battled through it.''

Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith scored for Vegas, which was again plagued by turnover troubles that contributed to a slow start this season. Giveaways contributed directly to the goals by Wilson and Siegenthaler.

''We had more turnovers than we had in the past few games and that really hurt us,'' coach Gerard Gallant said.

Fleury allowed four goals on 33 shots but made a spectacular save on T.J. Oshie on a 5-on-3 Capitals power play in the final minutes. The Golden Knights' point streak ended at five games.

''I feel like I wasn't good,'' Fleury said. ''I didn't make the key saves or I didn't change the game in a good way for us. I didn't make those key saves to keep the score close.''

A lot of that had to do with the Capitals, who never trailed and, perhaps most importantly, kept from blowing another third-period lead by turning up the pressure.

''We've let a lot of leads slip away this year,'' said John Carlson, who had two assists to pad his scoring lead among NHL defensemen win 28 points. ''Those are big moments. We always talk about exceeding or doing better than normal in those moments. I think we've done a good job, but we've got a lot of room to grow and get better. It's certainly something we focus on, so tonight was a good job.''

This was the third game between Vegas and Washington since the Capitals won the 2018 Final for their first title in franchise history. There were 24 players on the ice who participated in that series.

A lot of time has passed since then, but the intensity remains between the Golden Knights and Capitals.

''You know they give you a hard game no matter what,'' Holtby said. ''They play relentlessly, especially turning over pucks and make it hard for you to get out of your own end. I thought both teams were skating well all night, and it was a real even hockey game.''

NOTES: Siegenthaler's goal came in his 44th game and on the first anniversary of his NHL debut. ... Pacioretty scored for the third time in four games. ... With the primary assist on Backstrom's goal, Carlson passed Hall of Famer Scott Stevens for second on the franchise scoring list among defensemen. ... Capitals LW Carl Hagelin is day to day with an upper-body injury. He was replaced by C Nic Dowd, who returned from a three-game absence with a lower-body injury. ... World Cup winning U.S. Women's National Team soccer player Kelley O'Hara became the latest champion to chug a beer and receive a standing ovation at Capital One Arena. The World Series champion Nationals were honored for their title last week.

UP NEXT

Golden Knights: Wrap up their four-game Eastern Conference road trip Sunday at Detroit.

Capitals: Look for a seventh consecutive victory when they host Arizona on Monday.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Copyright 2019 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

123T
LV9-6-3
1102
WAS13-2-3
2125
STARS OF THE GAME
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
W. Carrier LW00020/0009:391
C. Eakin C01-117/6413:200
D. Engelland D00020/0217:213
C. Glass RW00-112/3011:440
N. Holden D00-300/0017:061
W. Karlsson C00-104/6019:550
J. Marchessault LW01-220/1217:181
B. McNabb D00010/0019:253
J. Merrill D00-210/0416:080
T. Nosek C00-100/0209:410
M. Pacioretty LW10-160/0017:270
R. Reaves RW00010/0008:557
N. Roy C00012/4010:332
N. Schmidt D00-150/0020:440
R. Smith RW10-120/1018:510
P. Stastny C00-1314/11018:260
M. Stone RW00-120/1019:241
S. Theodore D00020/0022:040
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
N. Backstrom C20168/8019:221
T. Boyd RW01102/0010:050
J. Carlson D02140/0024:111
N. Dowd C00117/4012:092
L. Eller C00107/6015:162
R. Gudas D00100/0217:577
G. Hathaway RW00000/2209:222
N. Jensen D00100/0014:160
M. Kempny D00010/0019:040
E. Kuznetsov C11055/2019:081
B. Leipsic LW00120/0010:321
D. Orlov D01220/0019:202
T. Oshie RW01113/1219:512
A. Ovechkin LW00160/0021:211
J. Siegenthaler D10110/0015:211
C. Stephenson C00001/3010:250
J. Vrana LW02130/0015:362
T. Wilson RW10120/3217:322
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
M. Fleury (L)3342958:29
GOALIESSA
M. Fleury (L)33
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
B. Holtby (W)3223059:45
GOALIESSA
B. Holtby (W)32
19:14GOAL Nicklas Backstrom (Empty net shot), Assists: T.J. Oshie and John Carlson
LEGEND:GoalsShotsGoalsShots
Full Play By Play
GOALS
  • 3RD PERIOD
    • WAS
      19:14GOAL Nicklas Backstrom (Empty net shot), Assists: T.J. Oshie and John Carlson
    • WAS
      11:30(PP) GOAL Nicklas Backstrom (Wrist shot), Assists: John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov
  • 2ND PERIOD
    • LV
      17:27(PP) GOAL Reilly Smith (Slap shot), Assists: Jonathan Marchessault and Cody Eakin
    • WAS
      15:32GOAL Jonas Siegenthaler (Wrist shot), Assist: Travis Boyd
  • 1ST PERIOD
    • LV
      08:57GOAL Max Pacioretty (Wrist shot)
    • WAS
      05:53GOAL Tom Wilson (Wrist shot), Assist: Jakub Vrana
    • WAS
      58.0GOAL Evgeny Kuznetsov (Wrist shot), Assists: Dmitry Orlov and Jakub Vrana
PENALTIES
  • 3RD PERIOD
    • LV
      20:00Bench penalty , served by Jon Merrill
    • LV
      14:20Deryk Engelland penalty Slashing - 2 min.
    • LV
      13:17Jon Merrill penalty Hooking - 2 min.
    • LV
      12:00Cody Eakin penalty Roughing - 2 min.
    • WAS
      12:00Tom Wilson penalty Roughing - 2 min.
    • LV
      10:19Jon Merrill penalty Slashing - 2 min.
    • WAS
      05:45Bench penalty Too Many Men on the Ice - 2 min., served by Alex Ovechkin
  • 2ND PERIOD
    • WAS
      20:00T.J. Oshie penalty Roughing - 2 min.
    • WAS
      16:00Garnet Hathaway penalty Elbowing - 2 min.
    • LV
      12:27Tomas Nosek penalty Tripping - 2 min.
  • 1ST PERIOD
    • WAS
      19:57Radko Gudas penalty Interference - 2 min.
    • LV
      14:25Cody Eakin penalty Hooking - 2 min.
    • LV
      03:38Jonathan Marchessault penalty Hooking - 2 min.
TEAM STATS
LV
WAS
Shots on Goal3234
Goals in Power Play11
Faceoff Wins2933
Penalties75
Major Penalties00
Minor Penalties75
Misconducts00
TEAM STATS
LV
Shots on Goal32
Goals in Power Play1
Faceoff Wins29
Penalties7
Major Penalties0
Minor Penalties7
Misconducts0
123T
LV9-6-3
1102
WAS13-2-3
2125
STARS OF THE GAME
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
W. Carrier LW00020/0009:391
C. Eakin C01-117/6413:200
D. Engelland D00020/0217:213
C. Glass RW00-112/3011:440
N. Holden D00-300/0017:061
W. Karlsson C00-104/6019:550
J. Marchessault LW01-220/1217:181
B. McNabb D00010/0019:253
J. Merrill D00-210/0416:080
T. Nosek C00-100/0209:410
M. Pacioretty LW10-160/0017:270
R. Reaves RW00010/0008:557
N. Roy C00012/4010:332
N. Schmidt D00-150/0020:440
R. Smith RW10-120/1018:510
P. Stastny C00-1314/11018:260
M. Stone RW00-120/1019:241
S. Theodore D00020/0022:040
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
N. Backstrom C20168/8019:221
T. Boyd RW01102/0010:050
J. Carlson D02140/0024:111
N. Dowd C00117/4012:092
L. Eller C00107/6015:162
R. Gudas D00100/0217:577
G. Hathaway RW00000/2209:222
N. Jensen D00100/0014:160
M. Kempny D00010/0019:040
E. Kuznetsov C11055/2019:081
B. Leipsic LW00120/0010:321
D. Orlov D01220/0019:202
T. Oshie RW01113/1219:512
A. Ovechkin LW00160/0021:211
J. Siegenthaler D10110/0015:211
C. Stephenson C00001/3010:250
J. Vrana LW02130/0015:362
T. Wilson RW10120/3217:322
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
M. Fleury (L)3342958:29
GOALIESSA
M. Fleury (L)33
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
B. Holtby (W)3223059:45
GOALIESSA
B. Holtby (W)32
STARS OF THE GAME
123T
LV9-6-3
1102
WAS13-2-3
2125
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
W. Carrier LW00020/0009:391
C. Eakin C01-117/6413:200
D. Engelland D00020/0217:213
C. Glass RW00-112/3011:440
N. Holden D00-300/0017:061
W. Karlsson C00-104/6019:550
J. Marchessault LW01-220/1217:181
B. McNabb D00010/0019:253
J. Merrill D00-210/0416:080
T. Nosek C00-100/0209:410
M. Pacioretty LW10-160/0017:270
R. Reaves RW00010/0008:557
N. Roy C00012/4010:332
N. Schmidt D00-150/0020:440
R. Smith RW10-120/1018:510
P. Stastny C00-1314/11018:260
M. Stone RW00-120/1019:241
S. Theodore D00020/0022:040
Total2203229/3314-19
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
N. Backstrom C20168/8019:221
T. Boyd RW01102/0010:050
J. Carlson D02140/0024:111
N. Dowd C00117/4012:092
L. Eller C00107/6015:162
R. Gudas D00100/0217:577
G. Hathaway RW00000/2209:222
N. Jensen D00100/0014:160
M. Kempny D00010/0019:040
E. Kuznetsov C11055/2019:081
B. Leipsic LW00120/0010:321
D. Orlov D01220/0019:202
T. Oshie RW01113/1219:512
A. Ovechkin LW00160/0021:211
J. Siegenthaler D10110/0015:211
C. Stephenson C00001/3010:250
J. Vrana LW02130/0015:362
T. Wilson RW10120/3217:322
Total5803433/2910-27
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
M. Fleury (L)3342958:29
GOALIESSA
M. Fleury (L)33
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
B. Holtby (W)3223059:45
GOALIESSA
B. Holtby (W)32
GOALS
  • 3RD PERIOD
  • 2ND PERIOD
  • 1ST PERIOD
PENALTIES
  • 3RD PERIOD
  • 2ND PERIOD
  • 1ST PERIOD
  • 3RD PERIOD
  • 2ND PERIOD
  • 1ST PERIOD

123T
LV9-6-3
1102
WAS13-2-3
2125
All times are US/Eastern.