Washington Capitals: T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin cool off New Jersey Devils

By Jim Cerny, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 14, 2017 at 9:09 AM
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NEWARK, N.J. -- T.J. Oshie scored twice and Alex Ovechkin added his league-leading ninth goal as the Washington Capitals handed the New Jersey Devils their first loss of the season with a 5-2 decision Friday night at the Prudential Center.

"It was an important win," said Oshie, who is off to the best start of his career with five goals in the season's first five games. "I think the mentality of going on the road and getting a win sticks with you awhile, especially early in the season."

Nicklas Backstrom scored a goal and set up three others for the Capitals (3-1-1), but for a while it appeared he may not even play in the game. Not wearing a helmet during warmups, Backstrom was struck by a puck and left the ice immediately. Backstrom originally was listed as a scratch, but instead was in the starting lineup despite the pregame miscue.

"I was hit by the puck and maybe it was a wake-up call, I don't know," said Backstrom.

The Devils (3-1-0) received goals from Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri in the loss. Palmieri's goal was the 100th of his NHL career.

"We were not a very difficult team to play against tonight, and in other games we were," said New Jersey coach John Hynes. "There are lots of lessons to take from this game."

Oshie opened the scoring 14:49 into the first period, burying a Backstrom feed after the Swedish center hounded Devils defenseman John Moore into a turnover in the offensive zone.

Ovechkin made it 2-0 at the 8:01 mark of the second when he snapped a power-play goal past Devils goaltender Cory Schneider from his office in the left circle. The Capitals superstar became only the fourth player in the NHL's expansion era (since 1967-68) to score nine goals in the first five games of a season, joining Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Patrick Marleau.

"I feel like he's always scoring, it's very impressive what he's able to do," Oshie said of Ovechkin.

Hall's first goal of the season, on the power play, brought the Devils within one at 16:28 of the second.

Jakub Vrana deflected a shot past Schneider at the other end just one minute before the second intermission to restore Washington's two-goal lead.

The Capitals squelched another New Jersey rally early in the third period. After Palmieri scored on a breakaway 53 seconds into the session, the Capitals scored on both ends of a double-minor, high-sticking penalty called against New Jersey's Pavel Zacha, extending their lead to 5-2 by the 7:02 mark of the period.

"We knew coming in this was going to be a challenge for us, playing a top-five team in the league," said Hynes. "You get exposed, just the hardness on the puck, the competitiveness of the game."

Oshie scored his second of the night and fifth of the season at 5:26 before Backstrom netted the Capitals' third power-play goal less than two minutes later.

"Obviously, the whole team was playing well tonight," said Backstrom. "We had better structure and played better defensively. When we play quick, it's hard for other teams."

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had a relatively easy night, stopping 21 of 23 shots. Schneider, who made 47 saves in Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, finished with 23 saves.

NOTES: Devils RW Drew Stafford (lower body) skated in the morning, but missed his third straight game. Coach John Hynes indicated that Stafford very well might play Saturday night against the New York Rangers. ... The Devils also scratched D Mirco Mueller and D Ben Lovejoy. ... D Dalton Prout made his season debut for the Devils. ... Capitals D Matt Niskanen (upper body) left the game in the second period and will be further evaluated on Saturday. ... Capitals RW Tom Wilson played his first game of the season after serving a four-game suspension, and got into a third-period fight with Devils C Blake Coleman. Earlier in the third, Coleman also fought Capitals LW Andre Burakovsky. ... D Taylor Chorney, LW Nathan Walker and C Tyler Graovac were scratched by the Capitals.

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