NEWARK, N.J. -- If there is one team in the NHL that is not eager for the All-Star break this weekend, it is the Washington Capitals.
Washington continued its torrid pace with a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at the Prudential Center.
Washington has recorded at least one point in 15 of its past 16 games (13-1-2) and is a sizzling 20-3-3 since Dec. 5. The Capitals are also 9-0-1 in their past 10 games versus New Jersey, and 6-0-2 their past eight against Metropolitan Division opponents.
"Our team plays better when we're on a roll and we keep coming to the rink and working and playing," said Holtby, who will head to Los Angeles with Ovechkin to take part in the All-Star weekend. "We expect ourselves to play well every night; and I think that's why we've had success."
While the Capitals are at the top of their game, the Devils (20-21-9) are not. New Jersey, which wore throwback red-and-green uniforms for Retro Night, lost its second in a row and fell for the third time in four heading into the break.
"We're not where we want to be," Devils coach John Hynes said. "The conference is tight, and we have to play better hockey."
Though they played a spirited game Thursday, the Devils are now winless in their past six home contests (0-5-1) and are just 1-7-1 in their past nine at the Prudential Center dating to Dec. 27.
Costly turnovers and some spotty play by Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid were the undoing of New Jersey on Thursday as the opportunistic Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead, on goals by Ovechkin and Burakovsky, and a 4-2 advantage after two.
Both first-period goals came directly off giveaways by Devils defensemen in their own end of the ice. Kyle Quincey coughed the puck up to Ovechkin on the game-opening score at 6:14, and Jon Merrill's turnover in front of his own net set the stage for Burakovsky's goal at 18:28.
Ovechkin now has a team-leading 23 goals on the season, and 22 points (9-13-22) in his past 18 games. Burakovsky has five goals in his past seven games, 10 on the season.
The Devils showed some life to start the second period. They climbed back within a goal at 3:19 with newcomer Stefan Noesen scoring in his Devils debut, one day after being claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks. A few minutes later. Noesen made a gorgeous cross-ice feed on the rush to teammate Pavel Zacha, who was robbed by Holtby.
"I thought he made some good plays and he had some good chemistry with Pavel and (Jacob) Josefson," Hynes said of Noesen, who has three goals on the season. "When he has the puck on his stick, good things happen."
However, moments after Holtby stoned Zacha at 7:54, the Capitals scored two quick goals to secure a 4-1 lead. The first was scored by Lars Eller, who was left all alone atop the crease to bury a rebound at 8:29.
"It was a big goal at an important time of the game," said Eller, who has four goals in his past six games. "We knew that next goal was going to be huge. It was either going to be 2-2 or 3-1. From there, we did what we had to."
Kuznetsov was then credited with a power-play goal after the puck slid off his stick and somehow between Kinkaid's pads at 10:19.
"I missed the puck and just had some good luck," said Kuznetsov, who, after an extremely slow start this season, now has nine goals, including four in the past five games.
After giving up that goal, Kinkaid was removed from the game, having surrendered four goals on 17 shots, and replaced in goal by Cory Schneider.
Adam Henrique got one back for the Devils -- his 12th of the season -- with a power-play deflection 1:44 before the second intermission to make it 4-2. Kuznetsov's second of the night, into an empty net with 1:53 to play in regulation, closed out the scoring.
Thursday's game marked the seventh time in the last nine games that the Capitals scored five goals or more.
"We're all feeling it right now, riding the wave," Eller said.
Schneider stopped all 18 shots he faced.
-- New Jersey RW Stefan Noesen, who was claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Wednesday, scored two goals, including the first of his NHL career, in 12 games with the Ducks this season.
-- The Devils scratched C Sergey Kalinin, LW Luke Gazdic, and D Seth Helgeson.
-- Washington scratched D John Carlson (undisclosed injury) and RW T.J. Oshie, who returned home because of personal reasons.